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Monday, November 10, 2008

Art Jewelry

Art jewelry is created with a variety of materials not just precious metals and gems. Art jewelry should be compared to expressions of art in other media such as glass, wood, plastics and clay. Art jewelry however has not yet created such a large following and is a relatively small niche, where jewelry is mostly bought by collectors and museums.

Though many consider art jewelry still part of crafts as opposed to real "Arts" (with its appropriate art critics) things are changing considerably, in particular in Germany. In the 1960s and 1970s the German Government and the commercial jewelry industry decided to foster and heavily support modern jewelry designers, and thus creating a new marketplace. They focused in particular on combined contemporary design with their goldsmithing tradition and jewelry making. At present art jewelry is no longer a niche market and many designers are sold in regular jewelry stores.

An example of current trends in art jewelry is the use of modern synthetic materials such as polypropylene, nylon and acrylic. Art jewelers have developed techniques for using these materials to dramatic effect. One example of this is award winning jeweler; Anoush Waddington, a designer working in the UK and selling internationally. Further notable makers and artists include swiss born Pierre Degen, Caroline Broadhead, Naomi Filmer, Otto Kuenzli and Florian Ladstaetter .

Fashion labels such as Bless, Martin Margiela, Comme des Garcons, etc have had a strong reference and input in the field of contemporary jewelry. The American art jewelry scene has not gone through such a phase yet, but the number of collectors, and museums that exhibit (exclusive) art jewelry is growing constantly. The Smithsonian museum, Houston Natural History Museum, Carnegie regularly showcase pieces of contemporary (American) jewelry designers.

Some famous artists who created art jewelry in the past were Calder, Picasso, Man Ray, Meret Oppenheim, Dali and Nevelson. Some of which represented at Sculpture to Wear Gallery in New York City which closed in 1977. Artwear Gallery owned by Robert Lee Morris continued in this endeavor to showcase jewelry as an art form. A collection of art jewelry can be found at the Schmuckmuseum in Pforzheim Germany.

Handmade Jewelry

Handmade jewelry is jewelry which has been assembled and formed by hand rather than through the use of machines. According to the guidelines of the FTC, in order to be stamped or called "handmade" the work must be made solely by hand power or hand guidance. In essence, this means that jewelry may be made using drills, lathes, , but it must be guided by human hand. This precludes the use of punch presses and CNC machinery&casting to name a few processes that would not qualify as "handmade". Beyond that caveat it can be anything made out of anything that would be considered jewelry. The American Gem Trade Association Spectrum awards, the Gem Center Idar Oberstein, and the De Beers Awards include awards specifically for handmade jewelry.

Although there is much mass produced jewelry in the world, there are many people who prefer to have work that is hand-crafted by a real artisan, and the arena of hand made jewelry and other items will likely remain healthy because of that fact. Much jewelry that is marked or sold as "hand made" often is not truly so, though it may be essentially so.