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Revisiting what is fine jewelry


There was thread on Orchid a some weeks ago about what canbe called
"fine jewelry". The current MJSA Journal, (March 2013) has a brief
article under Industry Trends on page 16. It discusses the trend to
new alloys etc to replace expensive metals" here is a quote:

“The lines have blurred as to what constitutes fine jewelry.
We’ve found in our research that many consumers consider any
piece thatincorporates some precious element, such as the
combination of brass and diamonds, to be fine jewelry.”


Elegant Insects Jewelry

There was thread on Orchid a some weeks ago about what canbe
called "fine jewelry". The current MJSA Journal, (March 2013) has a
brief article under Industry Trends on page 16. 

There is a saying - “If one drinks from dirty well, one should not be
surprised by stomach ache”. Industry publication serve only one
purpose, to promote the industry.

More often than not, it has nothing to do with reality.

Fine jewellery is not easy to define, but so what. Is it easy to
define fine food, fine wine, fine anything ? What is fine for some,
is crude to others.

It is more difficult to satisfy an expert, than neophyte. So we can
say that definition of the “fine” is connected with knowledge of a

Let’s use food to investigate the subject of the “fine”.

In USA market, less than 2% of all the beef is prime.

So compared to “select” grade prime is fine. However, compared to top
grades of Kobe beef it is barely acceptable.

Does every steak prepared with top grade of Kobe beef is “fine food”
? The answer is no. It has to be prepared with skill and knowledge.

Steak prepared from regular prime by knowledgable chef can be finer
than top grade Kobe beef prepared by average cook.

Let’s say we have expertly prepared steak from top grade Kobe beef.

Is that enough to call it fine food ? The answer is again no. If it
served on paper plate, or even porcelain but cold plate, it will not
be the right temperature and expert would not like it. So on top of
fine ingredients and skills, fine presentation is required.

Let’s say we have that. It is still not enough. Such steak, even
when served on proper plate of the right temperature, but if the
dinning table sits on top of heap of garbage, it is not fine food.
The premises where food is served is as important as food itself. Are
we done ? Not yet ! Gourmet would require such steak to accompanied
by fine wine.

That opens up another array of requirements and so on…

Jewellery is far more nuanced than steak, so the set of requirement
for truly fine jewellery can be almost infinite. Once we understand
that, we realize the futility of trying to define it.

Leonid Surpin


knowledge of the subject? WHAT e? ? one person said Fine jewellery
is that with a precious element- be it a stone or metal, However,
some semi-precious stones suffice too. Alexandrite is a semi-precious
gem together with the use of a precious metal constitutes fine
jewellery. partially due to price tag! No one is going to buy a piece
wrapped with copper on an alexandrite and imagine it will look nice
enough to be fine or art jewelry. So then it is also about design and
fabrication demonstrated together with a precious element (be it
mineral or metal. Most.Art jewellery is fine jewellery. A novice and
experienced jeweller should be able to agree that the terminology is
not as important as recognition of "fine or art jewellery as it is
fairly clear cut-.For instance, a novice and experienced metalsmith
will both agree wire wrapping is in no way fine jewlery-gold filled
is not fine jewellery regardless of the design or craftsmanship- I
have seen decent and poor examples of wire wrapping- none of it would
fit the class of insurable pieces, even if you stuck a 5,000 dollar
diamond crystal in it, or used pure gold, silver or Pt flat wire to
wrap it with. Perception dictates value to the buyer. Reality should
be the gauge with sellers, but often their ego’s cloud perception (by
others) of what their work or craft is worth ! Industry publications?
What-some contain have useful to some jewelers in
addition to being a good gauge of trends, which should be useful to
anyone making a livelihood as an independent as being unaware of the
current retail trends makes one less than competitive. sort of like
flying blind - expect to crash. Leonid, why the concern? you are
retired. you closed your studio and no longer make a living at it.
provided you did at one time. .What good is an industry publication
to someone divorced from the industry, save to participate injecting
an opinion into jewellery making forums wherein you believe yours is
the only opinion that has credence though you are not active in
learning anything new, using any new processes nor tools nor making
anything new and/or modern? It is simple to define and recognize fine
foods, fine wines and fine furniture, fine couture, fine patisserie,
fine chocolate and even fine woodworking!! Perception of which must
to be based in reality. if one is acting in/ on idiosyncratic values
or perception there can be no consensus with the majority- of which
comprises the masses with the money to participate in the buying and
selling of luxury items, whatever their context or category…,Luxury
isn’t a philosophy! Reality is absolutely necessary as a basis for
determining the mid-point on any continuum, particularly as it
relates to the real world of retail and luxury goods!! Paying luxury
taxes perhaps defining whether jewellery meets the criteria !!!- it
is the basis of being able to discern the difference between valuable
and not, fine and lesser. Steak is not a good comparisson to jewlery
in any case! Some appreciate kobe beef, some realise it is just a
variety of cow and the name doesn’t make it a “fine food”- and by the
way no one in their right mind would even reference a foodstuff
served on a paper plate without specifying the grade of paper in the
plate- it’s like splitting an atom! I have had extremely fine filet
of boeuf wellington encroute aux escargot en bordelaise on a handmade
very heavy plate at a charity benefit garden party. it was indeed
fine food served on paper, but that paper was pressed from silk
fibres and mulberry pulp and had to be at least 180 lb.

stock. Indeed clearly fine- so your example doesn’t work. you
presumed everyone envisions a flimsy 2 lb. bleached white paper plate
with gadrooned edge one would see at a cookout and requiring a stack
of, say, 3 to give it any tensegrity. I on the other hand recalled
the finest paper plate I have ever eaten off of at the tune of an
even where it was 150.00 a head for admission and the chef’s were
into a “green” thing. The paper was impervious to liquids, had a
moire like sheen to it and benefited a Tibetan orphanage through its
sales. Reality and perception;.Anyone present would have realised the
luxury goods on the plate were the finest escoffier like quality, and
value intrinsic in the product. Same with jewelery Perception and
frame of reference makes it easy to spot fine jewelry when one sees
it- the price tag is only one indicator- I have seen modern art that
looks like my dog could have done the work- It had a price tag in the
25000 range and sat in a gallery for 25 years, because the dead
painter made an impression in the art world , and is sought after by
those that collect that genre of modern art- I personally wouldn’t
pay 25 bucks for the work, but it is in the category of fine art. I
recognize that aficionados place that value on it. I have a friend
that makes enamelled earrings and gets $3500.00 a pair- the work is
in high karat gold, very fine workmanship, completely handmade and is
considered art jewellery and fine jewellery concurrently- I think
1500 is more reasonable given the weight of the gold, and time it
takes to make the pieces. but there you have it. I recognize the
skill it takes, the materials used and the perception of the jeweller
by the masses and the juries the person’s work appears in- Not every
pro that comes to Orchid could make 2 identical enough pieces of
cloisonn=e and command that price, still the buying public perceives
the value of the work as an investment, it is insurable for more than
the cost (as the replacement would be higher than the initial outlay
as it would have to be commissioned), and the work sells for that
price point in the galleries in which it is shown. all implying
luxury. all reality based businesses. all consumed by people
demanding the finest quality goods they can afford, and realising
the value will only rise in time. No two ways about it. Kobe beef
however, is available in every grocery store in this city- people on
food stamps desiring lean Japanese beef can buy it. doesn’t imply
value- just availability. what’s the point there. not an indicator of
a luxury item! If you can’t recognize"fine" anything, nor the
fineness in you haven’t an eye for marketing!!!..rer