[Too, too, too often I encounter untitled pieces in my daily work. To alleviate my frustration at this, I'm reposting this Lark Jewelry & Beading blog classic written by our former editor Marthe Le Van in late 2010. Please join Lark Jewelry & Beading on Facebook, and learn more about Marthe on her website. ~ Ray]

“Titles do not give a just idea of things; were it otherwise, the work would be superfluous.” Gustave Courbet

“To name something is to value it. Names and labels allow us to organize our loves, our loyalties, and our world. I’ve committed so much time to bringing these images forth, it would be irresponsible of me to not Christen them and provide them another means for communicating their essence.” Jeffrey T. Baker

Gene Gnida, Abacus Bracelet

Kathleen Carricaburu, Daphne and Apollo

The number of jewelers who title their work is growing, but there are still many holdouts. In an attempt to wrangle the Untitled masses into the fold, I present the following practical and emotional rationales:

Titles convey that an item is one-of-a-kind.
Titles help you distinguish one piece from another.
Titles clarify what piece you are talking about.
Titles can assert the function of a form.
Titles can describe a process.
Titles can highlight a material.
Titles can establish a context.
Titles can set a mood.
Titles can communicate a vision.
Titles can create yet another level of meaning.
Titles can bring resolution to your process.
Titles make it easier to organize and track your inventory.
Titles show up in search engines.
Titles can trigger new projects and directions.
Titles are good exercise for your brain.
Titles are messages you can send to your viewers.
Titles create a more active viewing experience.
Titles are one of the first things a viewer looks at.
Titles are cause for further contemplation.
Titles open the door to meaning.
Titles help viewers, who may not know where to begin, relate to your art.
Titles make viewers linger longer.
Titles make artists more approachable.
Titles tell your story and give a little insight into your world.
Titles make you look smarter.
Titles reinforce your professionalism.
Titles show that you care about your work.
Titles make your jewelry seem complete.
Titles capture the attention of buyers.
Titles help people remember the particular piece of jewelry they are attracted to.
Titles rarely alienate your viewers.
Titles increase the perceived significance of a piece of jewelry.
Titles strengthen people’s attachment to their jewelry.
Titles speak for you when you can’t.
Titles enlighten jurors.
Titles are convenient for analyzing, reviewing, and addressing jewelry.
Titles facilitate more (and more accurate) discussions about your work.
Titles make it easier for writers to write about your jewelry.
Titles look great in books and catalogs.
Titles don’t have to say everything, but they should say something.
Titles are not permanent.
Titles can be changed.

Rebecca Hannon, Victorian Flower Earrings

Mary Hallam Pearse, One Pearl Many Pleasures

All four jewelry images above appear in 500 Silver Jewelry Designs. Many thanks to Gene Gnida, Kathleen Carricaburu, Rebecca Hannon, and Mary Hallam Pearse for allowing me to use their images (and titles!) to enhance this blog. Please visit their websites to learn more about them and see more examples of their jewelry.

  • HCC

    Well thought out and well presented. Kudos & kisses

  • TesoriTrovati

    Thank you for this! This list is so inspiring. I have always been a firm believer in titling your work. It gives a sense of purpose and artfulness to them. Rather than saying “Pearl and crystal earrings” (blech) it is so much more intriging to say “Days of Wine & Roses” earrings. So thank you for this. It is everything that I have tried to impart to others about why it is necessary.
    Enjoy the day!

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  • http://www.askharriete.typepad.com Harriete Estel Berman

    Marthe has addresses an important issue for an artist’s success with the amazing skills of a writer. In my professional opinion expressed on ASK Harriete “Untitled is the worst title of all” http://tinyurl.com/27osnx7 .

    Looking at the photos above also reminds me that titles can also help with your ” IMAGE FILE NAMES as a code for managing photographs of your work.”

    Follow Marthe advice and always give you work titles.

  • http://twitter.com/Margie_Deeb Margie Deeb

    Great list!

  • http://www.facebook.com/d.l.culverstudio Daniel Culver

    Now I know I wouldn’t like to use titles.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Kim-Themillersdaughter/1135031054 Kim Themillersdaughter

    I like whimsical names for coastal-inspired beadwork…especially if you include found objects. It’s not the Kimberly diamond. Oh look, is that a title, or is that Kimberly’s diamond?

  • Shan Garretson

    I sometimes go from liking something to buying something just because of the title– my favorite things to look at for inspiration in life— OPI nail polish color names, and old film titles…I can just go to AMC or TCM and browse the film titles all night.
    Best of luck, I found you from Rook No. 17- for a giveway.