Announcing “Contemporary Jewelry in Perspective”

September 10, 2013, 11:38 am  Posted by Lark

Have you ever wondered about contemporary jewelry? What is it? How did it come into existence? How did it evolve across the globe? What ideas does it explore now? What directions might it take in the future? Turn to Contemporary Jewelry in Perspective to examine these issues and to admire hundreds of photos of striking jewelry made anywhere from 1900 to just last year.


A must-read for jewelers, collectors, teachers and students, the book is divided into three sections. Part 1 scrutinizes the places you might encounter contemporary jewelry—on the page, perhaps, or at the jeweler’s bench, or displayed in various environments, or worn on the body.

Numerous short essays in this section delve deep. There are different types of pages, for example. The contents of a printed book is almost certainly determined by an authority of some sort, and the reader receives the information in a linear order determined by the author and the graphic designer; the web page, on the other hand, can be a more democratic forum that the user navigates in a non-linear fashion; and then there’s the magazine—how is its page different from one in a book? Display, meanwhile, can be as varied as the museum plinth, the glass-topped horizontal showcase of the jewelry shop, or a shelf. Is the jewelry presented as an anthropological artifact, or as an art object? The body is a living display for jewelry; are there places on it we might consider “wrong” for wearing jewelry? How about jewelry as performance? And that’s just the tip of the iceberg! The photos in this section showcase groundbreaking work!


Artists have been making contemporary jewelry for some 70 years. Part 2 relates this history in various parts of the globe, and discusses how differences in culture, society, and an area’s own history can impact the character of contemporary jewelry. It starts with a section on early twentieth-century art jewelry, then separate chapters cover Europe, North America, Latin America, Australasia, East Asia and Southern Africa to the present.

Top row: Belt Buckle by an unidentified artist, ca. 1900 (from the chapter Early Twentieth-Century Art Jewelry); Hydrospacial Ring by Gyula Kosice, 1960 (Latin America); Pendant by Tanya Ashken, late 1960s (Australasia); Fern Pendants by Owen Mapp, 1970s (Australasia). Bottom row: Man and His Pet Bee by Robert W. Ebendorf, 1968 (North America); Bib (protection factor 3.7) by Margaret West, 1982 (Australasia); The Rain Drops VII--Brooch by Kim Jung-hoo, 2009 (East Asia); Tyre Rings by Chris de Beer, 2003 (Southern Africa)


The essays in Part 3 introduce some broad contemporary issues for jewelers, as evidenced by their titles:

  • The Jewel Game: Gems, Fascination and the Neuroscience of Visual Attention
  • The Cultural Meanings of Jewelry
  • The Accessorized Ape
  • Body Modification from Punks to Body Hackers: About Piercings and Tattoos in Postmodern Societies
  • A Touchy Affair: On Contemporary and Commercial Jewelry
  • Now and Then: Thinking about the Contemporary in Art and Jewelry
  • Jewelry in the Expanded Field: Between Applied Social Art and Critical Design
  • Thinking Process: On Contemporary Jewelry and the Relational Turn
  • The Political Challenge to Contemporary Jewelry
  • DIY in Theory and Practice


 Contemporary Jewelry in Perspective was edited by Damian Skinner and produced in association with Art Jewelry Forum, a non-profit organization that advocates for  contemporary art jewelry through education, discourse, appreciation and support for the field. The contributing writers are Helen Carnac, Liesbeth den Besten, Chang Dong-kwang, Julie Ewington, Elizabeth Fischer, Mònica Gaspar, Elyse Zorn Karlin, Kelly Hays L’Ecuyer, Benjamin Lignel, Philippe Liotard, Kevin Murray, Marcia Pointon, Suzanne Ramljak, Sarah Rhodes, Valeria Vallarta Siemelink, Damian Skinner, Barbara Smith, Barbara Maria Stafford, and Namita Wiggers.


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