I recently came across an interesting article about young contemporary jewelry on DesignBoom. The article, Poor Jewelry Design, focuses on avant garde jewelers who are more concerned with creating objects that communicate issues of value, history, status, or material connotations than following dictums established by previous jewelers. Although I have a problem with the title of the article, the article is a good summary of current investigations in the field. For me, the use of the word ‘poor’ to articulate the work is a tad belittling. Considering the value of the content associated with the work, allowing the material value to dictate the worth is a reiteration on a stale concept of value.
The text from the article is posted below, enjoy! Be sure to follow the link to the article to see more examples of contemporary jewelry.
the struggle of precious with non-precious materials is typical of recent years and has prepared a new way for ‘young contemporary jewelry’. neither preciousness nor eternal preservation seems to be important to this new breed of arty accessories – with its value lying in its communicative potential. within the young international jewelry scene, the new arrangement of everyday materials is a sovereign one and provides pieces with a lively expression. in the middle of the 20th century, a large part of society consisted of middle class people, conservative in their taste and whose ideals were very strong and
deeply-rooted, a society little inclined to change its lifestyle or its symbols. jewelry was often viewed as an emblematic gesture, a sound investment that could be passed down through generations.
there was, however, another part of society ready for renovation. industry and fashion have changed the approach to jewelry by removing its symbolic and ancestral value. in a society, where great importance is given to superficiality, jewelry has been deprived of any cultural value thus limiting its understanding and consequently its distribution. in this context, the pioneers of the contemporary scene, albeit with some difficulty, had a fertile ground to work on.
does it represent what it did in the recent past? when economy is stagnant, it is obvious that contemporary jewelry is faced with a very difficult challenge. it seems to be a restricted matter, among a rather small group of people and moves in a limited market, for many reasons including the fact that it does not shift a large sums of money. however, it seems the role of jewelry nowadays is not determined by whether the field is restricted, but whether the designers will be able to maintain and develop this specific sector.
often people do not understand why something so minimal and simple, made from materials such as used material, silicone, plastic, glass, and paper should be so ‘expensive’. for most people, ‘contemporary’ and ‘the use of poor materials’ is equivalent to economic.
so what makes some things valuable and others not? these contemporary accessories are made of innovation and artistic research. a piece of jewelry is not merely a decorative ornament; it usually has a meaning, which might be a celebration of something, or a loss, it might be very personal,
but these meanings can also be universal, recognizable in today’s society. the rigorous monumentality of ‘poor jewelry’ comes alive when it is worn, when the tactile pleasure of the alternative materials comes into play. in the research of innovative materials, the here featured artists’ work is characterized by an empirical approach – solutions are found by direct experimentation.
Images: Hild Dedecker, organic ring; Constanze Schreiber, ornament and crime necklace; Rai Lie, thin ring; and Gesine Hackenberg, necklaces.