Who Wears Your Jewelry?…Do You?

November 17, 2010, 17:01 pm  Posted by Lark Jewelry & Beading

Who Wears Your Jewelry?

A photo in the latest Anthropologie catalog and a television interview with Diane Keaton on CBS Sunday Morning triggered this week’s two-part ramble about inspiring, making, wearing, and promoting jewelry.

Anthropologie, always bold in its art direction choices and styling, included a set of necklaces modeled on, of all things, a llama. I am a big fan of the animal kingdom (I happen to be one, myself) and there is nothing I like more than a good laugh, but from a purely practical perspective, will this cheeky photo translate into increased necklace sales?

Dianne Keaton looked stunning (as always) in a super chunky silver chain. If I made jewelry, Diane Keaton just might have to be my muse. This revelation got me thinking, do real jewelers (not hypothetical ones, like myself) have a muse? A concrete vision of the person they are creating for, body and soul?

Let’s consider the “llama question” first. I see a huge amount jewelery images, and I think a lot about how to photograph jewelery. As a curator and wearer, my preference is to see a piece being worn. (Exceptions would be photographs intended for instruction and site-specific or conceptual installations.) Such an image communicates more holistic information (for better or worse) than a jewelry “still life” ever will. Seeing relational qualities, such as scale, suppleness, stability, function, and presence, helps me connect to jewelry as a human, not a llama.

Some of my favorite “model” shots are not staged. Rather, they are candid moments of people wearing work that they are obviously passionate about, giving the jewelry life. Is this the desired end result of your making? If so, have you imagined who will be wearing your work? What do you know about this person or persons? How often do you think about her, if at all, during your designing and making process? How do you reach out to her? Where do you find her? At galleries and craft fairs? At the gym, the library, the grocery store, at parties, on Facebook? Which brings me to the last part of this meandering story, the soapbox part.

Do You Wear Your Jewelry?

As jewelers, you have a unique opportunity to continually promote your work by wearing it everywhere. (As a book maker, I am quite enviable of this position, and I imagine that other makers, from potters to painters to roofers to dentists, would love to be in your shoes.) So, why do so few jewelers actually take advantage of this golden opportunity? I’d estimate that only 10 to 15% of the makers I’ve met wear their own jewelry on a daily basis (except at craft fairs, conferences, and the like). What gives? Jewelry is a great conversation starter. Most people feel very comfortable commenting on what you’re wearing, and who knows where a new connection will lead? (Share stories of your most successful  jewelry encounters in the comment box.)

Above: Julia Barello

Granted, I probably wouldn’t run into Diane Keaton at Whole Foods, but there are plenty of other muse-types out there ready to buy your work. They just need to see it. Seeing your jewelry on you does wonders to help people visualize it on themselves or someone they know. It’s a simple soapbox message, really. More like a chant. “Wear Your Work. Wear Your Work. Wear Your Work.” I leave you today with some lovely images of makers wearing their own work. Won’t you do the same?

Above, left to right
First row: Tatiana Pages, Philip Sajet, Nora Rochel, Jennifer Kahn
Second row: Aud Charlotte Ho Sook Sinding, Jen Townsend, Michael Zobel, Jillian Moore
Third Row: Thomas Mann, Brenda Schweder, Jamie Cloud Eakin, Mari Ishikawa


10 Responses

    Brenda Schweder says:

    You are the muse, Ms. Marthe! Always the promoter, soapbox-er or not!

    My most recent (albeit not-quite-successful-yet) story happened a week or two ago. My friend Helen and I were taking in all that SOFA Chicago had to offer when I glanced at two women oggling me as if I were the jewelry I had been oggling all day. We both laughed at their boldness and (with new permission) they excitedly complemented me on my outfit and jewelry asking me if I was one of the SOFA artists (I said, “not yet!”) and if they could have my card, URL, and contact information! (This is where I wished I had worn my inventory-stocked trench coat from which to sell on-the-spot!) Hey! There’s a new blog topic for you–translating “hot” interest into sales!

    Jenkahnjewelry says:

    Wow, what a great blog entry. I’m thrilled to be among such esteemed company as the jewelry artists here, Dianne Keaton… and a llama! (It is an Anthropologie llama after all.) I wear my work all the time. It is a great conversation starter and I always have my little moo cards on hand to give out if/when the conversation gets that far. I’ve even sold earrings right out of my ears and rings off of my hands! I make jewelry for me, who do I know better, after all? And if I wouldn’t wear it, I couldn’t expect that others would. I do have different pieces for different looks, from big and bold “out on the town” wear to more subtle and demure “every day” wear. Thanks for including me Marthe!

    Cynthia Deis says:

    This is such a valid point, especially for beginning designers. I often hear someone tell me about their jewelry and spend the conversation searching neckline, collar, earlobe, wrist, etc. to see nothing or (worse!) diamond studs and a watch!
    And yeah, what’s up with the llama?

    Cara says:

    More articles like this please! I try to wear my work every chance I can. I work in a really great Restraunt and have to wear all black. It is a great back drop (if you will) for my work. I have many customers that purchase my jewelry that eat at the restraunt as well. I am so supported by the owners as most of us on staff are artists but I am the only one who can wear my work. One night I sold the earrings off my ears to customers who were out for a birthday dinner.

    TesoriTrovati says:

    I wear my work every chance I get, but also work of artists that I admire and support. Today I am wearing a special necklace and earring set made for me by my good friend Heather Powers of Humblebeads fame. It is special that she made it just for me with her beads (that I also love to work with). Thank you for getting me to think. And I do think that I won’t be modeling on llamas anytime soon. I don’t think I want to wear what llamas wear.

    Enjoy the day!

    Kerin Rose says:

    oh this post made me smile, Marthe!…just so happens, Diane Keaton is one of my big “imaginary muses”…I have photos of her in jewelry ( her aesthetic is amazing!) in my studio!…

    As for wearing my own work, I do that daily, and like others here mentioned, have sold pieces off my body, and more importantly, given out more cards than I could count because of it….to further that end, I also try to be sure that the sales representatives of galleries that carry my work are able to obtain a piece at an extremely affordable cost….yet another level of real-time exposure that really helps!

    Jeri says:

    I know you are right Marthe, but there are two reasons I don’t often wear my jewelry. First, it is a conversation starter of sorts, and when I’m “off duty” (like at Whole Foods) I’m happy to avoid conversation! Second, I love the work of other artists, and frequently wear my friends’ work (but see sentence one for the same issue). For me it is always the issue of how artist and salesperson are not always synonyms! Given your discussion here, I think I will just mentally insist on a 4 day a week rule – MY jewelry, 4 days a week!!

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