Despite being one of the oldest and most universal forms of artistic expression, at the intersection of ornament and sculpture, the connotations of jewelry as too feminine, too precious, too ornamental or too primitive often impede its recognition as an art form. Not only last week was I discussing with a movie producer the idea that jewelry should be more recognized as an art form, at the same level one would value paintings, photography or sculptures. He defended the idea that jewelry was merely an “art applique” (or “applied art”), whereas the other mediums of art such as painting or classical music were more complete and therefore superior in their artistic value. The applied arts are the application of design and decoration to everyday objects to make them aesthetically pleasing. The term is applied in distinction to the fine arts which aims to produce objects which are beautiful or provide intellectual stimulation.
Following this rational, jewelry would, by essence, be defined naturally as a fine art, because a jewel is not only an object of everyday life. It is created for the purpose of stimulating our senses, crystallizing for eternity a meaning (symbolic, emotional or financial). It travels through time and space to connect aesthetes, generation after generation, through the universal language of beauty. It is possessed and used by the few who can afford it, and it retains through time an emotional value which can only be protected by those who have been initiated to it. This reveals underlying subversive and performative powers: the forces that jewelry embodies and invokes above and beyond its visible form.
Ring and Stand : Victoire de Castellane - 2014
"My jewels are propositions, speaking about concept and form as opposed to objective value. They become sculpture."
A jewel is therefore not necessarily created to be worn, it is collected and admired first of all. We visit Museums and exhibitions to see antique jewelry as an art form. The visitors of the Place Vendome who come to admire the outside window displays appreciate jewelry as much as they would admire paintings at the Louvre. Anonymous craftsmen and paruriers have been inventing jewelry for millennia. Avant-garde artists and contemporary designers challenge the conventions of the medium and, by constantly reinventing it, push its boundaries even further. They are all heroes of an art form which connects to our lives more intimately than any other fine art. But then again, only the few initiated would understand. There is a quality in keeping that secret precious. A jewel is, after all, merely a silent beauty touching our heart.
Fabricated ring and stand: Angela Bubash - 2016
"I am intentionally subverting the jewel (garnet) and placing what I feel is just as precious and important on top (flowers). The flowers are under glass referencing reliquaries."