Jewelry as Art Part II about art in jewelry.
Last week we talked about art and beauty. This week, I'd like to focus in on the world of jewelry as part of the art world.
Once upon a time, jewelry had a lot of mystique. In really old days it was often imbued with magical powers. By the 19th century, those who made jewelry were true masters of the diverse aspects of jewelry making - from design through metalwork to chasing, engraving, enameling and gem-setting. Jewelers took great pride in their work. It was not uncommon for a jeweler to give priority to producing something fabulous above making a lot of money. Machines changed all of that, and jewelry-making became one more means of getting rich. Not always, but all too often. As a result, we usually look at the old masters when we talk about fine jewelry, but there certainly are some great names out there still producing wonderful quality merchandise.
I think we have forgotten that this is art. A jewel, like a painting or sculpture started off as a concept in the artist's mind. He concretised his idea by putting pen to paper and creating a design. From there, it was skilled craftsmanship that put the design into 3 dimentional form. Not by a machine. Not anyone could do it. Some did it better than others. Some produced better designs than others. Some used better materials than others. Just look at designs and work of artists such as Rene Lalique or Louis Comfort Tiffany! The mind boggles. Yes, others made lovely pieces, but men like these were true artists.
There have been a few jewelers of the 20th century who tried to reintroduce the 'novel' idea that jewelry is art. During the 1960's, especially in England, there were a number of jewelers who manipulated the border between these fields, making art that could be worn and jewelry that they called art.
It is jolly well about time that we remember what went into making some of these pieces. We must recognise the qualities of what we see and give it full recognition. It's time to remember that great jewelry is a form of art.
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