Today there is a resurgence in handcrafted art jewelry–artist made jewelry that is created by hand instead of mechanically produced by machine.
Made to ‘Perfection’
Mass-produced jewelry often looks more uniform and sometimes lacks the variation that speaks of the hand and eye of the individual artist. Machine made jewelry is produced using pattern and perfect repetition with the focus primarily on profitability. Even though mass-produced jewelry may appear as handmade, that does not mean it was actually handcrafted. Even though mass-produced jewelry of common styles is sometimes less expensive, because less expensive to make, it is not always so. Mass-produced jewelry rarely has special meaning or a history attached to it–it does not have a story or a bit of the maker’s life embedded into it.
While machine made jewelry is produced from patterns and consistent repetition, the charm of handmade art jewelry is its variation from similar, but not identically same pieces. Art jewelry shows the creativity, concentration, time, skill and dedication required of the artist to create his/her original. Artists and designers making art jewelry use old metal smith skills, simple tools and a variety of age-old techniques to create new, intriguing forms and shapes. In addition to the craftsmanship involved, art jewelry often speaks or refers to the individuality and personal meaning of the artist as well as their cultural identity and personal themes.
Love and Passion
Handmade jewelry offers the pleasure of unique, often rare designs that are not identical and are created with great love and passion. Art jewelry designers often use natural, high quality materials such as precious metals, precious and natural gemstones, antique components and organic elements such as coral, leather, wood, bone, amber and pearls. They go to great lengths to design unusual, unexpected combinations of shapes, forms, colors and combinations of materials.
Many art jewelers today, have a ‘branded’ look to their work. The brand may be recognized by the specific collection of materials used, by a highly developed approach to design or to an interesting or unusual technique. Each artist attaches their name to the work and is proud of the reputation they have. For jewelry artists, the creation of new jewelry is a passionate aspect of their life. They enjoy every minute of their work, whether working as the designer or the fabricator or the seller sharing their story with others.
An Art Form
Jewelry is an art form. Painters and sculptors embed their artwork with great strength of feeling that comes through their design process and the finished work. In the same way, art jewelry often reflects the personal touch and style and expresses the individuality and interests of the artist creating it. Many jewelry artists have training in art and design, although others are self-taught.
These artists commonly speak about the fascination they have always had in working with their hands. They talk about linking their soul, mind and body together in the process of conceiving a new idea and then creating something new and exciting. Jewelry artists often say that they play with the materials in an imaginary space and then see the materials evolve and transform into components which become in turn, a new form of jewelry. Artists also talk about the silent conversations they have with themselves as new ideas begin to flow and come together for the new piece. They are dedicated to their artistic way of life.
Handmade jewelry is not usually available in large quantities. The attention to craftsmanship and detail is a hallmark of high quality art jewelry. Wearing beautiful handmade jewelry is such a pleasure that it is worth discovering it through galleries or art shows. Sharing and explaining to others the history and information about the jewelry or the story of the artist creator, is a great joy. It is satisfying to wear jewelry that a person has personally and lovingly created with the use of their eyes and hands.
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