Perhaps we shouldn't be looking down our noses at costume jewelry
quite as much?
Thank you Brian!
Though actually I don’t tend to think of Costume in the context of
jewelry much at all.
I link Costume to Vintage, such as my grandmother’s Miriam Haskells:
faux and still somewhat gaudy, but sufficiently aged to have acquired
their own special charm (plus grandma did nice faux ;-). If I were to
apply Costume to something new, I suppose it’s cheap, cheesy
mass-produced items, which for some odd reason my brain seems to
forget exist at all except perhaps at Halloween–and even then I’m
not sure I’d think of it as Jewelry really vs. something disposable.
Sorry if that definition causes pain to some readers, but please
consider the first part of what I said: I really don’t think of the
term at all today, so whatever you’re creating, I extremely doubt
I’d associate Costume with it even if you are.
And Lynn, thank you also for your comment, since I too am bored by
many pieces at the Fine Jewelry end of the spectrum. If a jeweler’s
display (including an “artist’s” at a juried fair) looks like it’s
filled with items that could have been stamped out by a
factory–nothing offered beyond how big the rocks are, high carat the
gold is, or mirror perfect the finish–I blink and walk past.
Furniture is made from a hunk of tree and varnish, but whether it’s
sold for $50 from IKEA or $5000 from
is partly a matter of the materials but largely a matter of the
artist’s design and execution. And a hand blown margarita glass from
Crate and Barrel is colored melted sand–fundamentally no different
from anything which comes out of http://www.pilchuck.com/ but I don’t
think we’d ever confuse the two.
So as much as I admire someone the work of like Janet Alix
http://www.alixandcompany.com/ and could only dream of being in her
league whenever I wear my ring, I don’t get why our industry seems to
have such materials bigotry simply because some raw ingredients are
radically more expensive than others?
I’ve seen far too many wrapped silver + semi-precious pieces, enamel
items, chainmail, forged sterling, or completely unique creations
which completely blow away a classic Fine hunk of yellow gold with
some big rocks. And the former, when well executed with quality
materials, can often carry off a higher price tag than an
unimaginative Fine, despite their “lesser” materials. As any
marketer will tell you, differentiation has value–whether it’s
purely on the piece at a juried fair or style + image for Tiffany
Silver ;-). When I work in copper on a production piece, it’s a style
choice because the pricing is frequently a wash with silver by the
time I include extra labor for patina and sealant. And while I
wouldn’t call the silicone European 4 in 1 pieces I’ve woven art,
they are as high quality as anything else I create and it’d be
irksome if someone dismissed them as cheap plastic without even a
glance. Yet many talented artists don’t understand the value of their
skills vs. materials, and it pains me every time I see one of them
grossly under-price a beautifully made piece at a fair or on Etsy–it
not only hurts themselves, but also downgrades our industry as a
Maybe it’s just that since High School I’ve purchased and thought of
jewelry as wearable art, not a mass market commodity, so in my mind
every piece needs to be taken on its individual merits. No different
from assessing two paintings–have to actually look at them rather
than just compare specs for height/ width/ age/ brush detail/ medium/
frame type, or you may miss that one’s a gallery portrait and the
other an Elvis velvet