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