Boasting a rich history, contemporary jewellery dates back over 50 years. However, the discipline is still relatively unknown, making it tricky to position, date, or define. The obscure nature of the style makes it vulnerable to trends in cultural politics and education. So what actually is contemporary jewellery? When and where did it originate, how has it developed over time, and what’s in store for the future? As well as exploring contemporary jewellery as an object, we’re also looking into it as a practice. What can be used to describe how an artist works with the style? In this article, we explore these questions in more detail.
The first area we’re looking into is contemporary jewellery as an object. The jewellery style is often described as a mixture of jewellery and art. Many people explain it as a glorified version of high-street jewellery, and a poor relative of modern art. Unlike high-street pieces, contemporary jewellery is not manufactured purely for wearing; instead, it’s an art form used to express individual talent, influences, and contemporary culture.
Like any other form of art categorised as ‘contemporary’, the practice of contemporary jewellery is hard to define. Unlike most art and design movements in history, it cannot be categorised based on the materials used or its appearance. Each piece of contemporary jewellery is unique in appearance and can be made from a range of materials.
So, how do we define contemporary jewellery as an art form? Instead of categorising it by appearance or the materials used, it can be described as a specific approach to making jewellery. Unlike high-street jewellers, contemporary jewellers consider more than just the appearance of the final outcome. A range of other concerns also informs the development of the jewellery, including materiality and social context. The final product is the result of many aspects coming together including suitable materials, relative themes, and aesthetic considerations. These factors all contribute to the wide variety seen in contemporary jewellery.
Materiality is an important part of contemporary jewellery. Today, jewellers are no longer confined to using precious metals and gemstones; instead, they are encouraged to use other materials. Unique materials can be used to reflect the wider concerns of the jeweller, rather than just taking the aesthetic appeal into account.
This flexible approach reflects a trend that has been seen in all types of contemporary art. Contemporary artists, designers, actors, and jewellers are no longer confined to a certain medium; instead, they can use any material that appeals to them or reflects their views.
While contemporary jewellery can be crafted from many materials, jewellers often use precious metals and stones. This creates a modern variant of classic models of jewellery. Unlike classic jewellery, contemporary pieces are made with the choices of the current times. This gives the jewellery an identity that stands between the popular high-street jewellery and artistically crafted traditional pieces.
To craft contemporary jewellery, you’ll need both professional training and extensive knowledge on the subject. The contemporary style celebrates the artistry of the past in the modern ways of the present.
Modern jewellery, on the other hand, is a jewellery design movement that specialises in high personalisation. While the roles of jewellery designers and goldsmiths cannot be ignored completely, modern jewellers use unconventional metals and materials that go against the concepts of traditional jewellery. One of the major segments of modern jewellery is fashion jewellery, which can be found in almost every high-street store. In the next few years, tech jewellery is forecasted to become another popular variant of modern jewellery, too.
While contemporary and modern jewellery are both similar, they have key differences that can be used to distinguish one from the other. Modern jewellery comes in a variety of shapes and sizes and can be defined as any jewellery made in the present. While precious stones and metals can be used, modern jewellery is often made from unique materials to give traditional looking jewellery a modern twist. The main focus of modern jewellery is its aesthetic appeal. The end product will be created based upon its appearance. Contemporary jewellery, on the other hand, takes multiple aspects into account during the creative process. The jeweller will not only consider its aesthetic appeal but also materiality and social context. While the end product needs to be wearable, beauty is not the main focus of contemporary jewellery.
The best type of jewellery is down to personal preference. Generally, contemporary jewellery is more expensive than other styles. This is because the creative process is much longer than that of modern jewellery. If you enjoy meaningful jewellery with an interesting backstory, contemporary jewellery may be perfect for you.
Contemporary jewellery is loved by people of all sorts, and it’s not hard to see why! Each piece of contemporary jewellery has a rich backstory and has been crafted with love and care. Many people describe the style as a mixture of jewellery and art. Instead of its appearance, the main focus of contemporary jewellery is the social values behind the piece. The creative process of contemporary jewellery is another thing that makes it unique. Each piece is crafted by a professionally trained jeweller with extensive knowledge of personalised jewellery. Throughout the making process, they will consider the current social values and incorporate these into the jewellery. One of the most common ways to do this is through the use of materials; for instance, artisans may use ethically sourced, eco-friendly materials. Whether or not you wear contemporary jewellery is up to you, but if you’re looking for a unique accessory with an interesting background, contemporary pieces will not disappoint!