So I’ve been lurking here for awhile and posting recently. Been
exposed to a lot of ideas and concepts and good, handy technical
stuff. And made some friends!
I’ve always made what I guess is termed traditional jewelry.
Expensive stones, precision mountings, tailored styles. But in
viewing some of the art jewelry that’s in the galleries and on your
websites I’m getting the urge to make some unconventional jewelry
styles. I’ve done a few over the years and they were quite satisfying
and financially rewarding. But I am concerned the market in this town
might be too conservative and small to make it pay on a regular
basis. People here want intrinsic value in addition to a pleasing
look. Frugal Yankees.
I’m wondering how to combine expensive materials with the art look
and sell it in a way that works for the client and me. This is for me
my livelihood, so the risk factor has to taken into consideration,
yet I want to break out little.
Input, anecdotes, observations, theories, ramblings would be
I am sure what I am about to say fits into one of those niches,
This has a lot to do with why people wear jewelry. There is a long
list of reasons, but two that have particular bearing are -
Conspicuous consumption of wealth- some people will spend big money
for a piece which is obviously expensive in order to advertise that
they are wealthy and therefore members of a specific social class.
Communication of an aesthetic- some people will wear jewelry to show
that they are individualists and have a refined or avante-garde
As to how these two groups interface, those who are interested in
conspicuous consumption are frequently conservative and want to be
associated with a conservative group. They may be turned off by
jewelry which flouts convention. By the same token, many who will
really appreciate a unique and out-of-the-mainstream design are
well-educated but not rich, and will admire but not buy an elaborate
creation in sapphires and 22k gold.
I think that you may be targeting those who simultaneously occupy
both groups, which could be a pretty small subset. Or maybe not,
depending on the demographics of your customers, your city and where
you market your goods. The question for you is, who both wants and
can afford art jewelry done in expensive materials and how can you
connect with them?
A good friend of mine is an artist and her style of design is very
freeform and rustic, bold, beautiful and daring, not structured. I
think of conservative as structured (i.e., traditional as you’ve
described your work). I, on the other hand, like the clean lines of a
more structured piece. For me the art deco style combines clean
lines, has a structured feel, with a lot of style and art in it (just
my personal preference). I think you can branch out in original
designs and still keep the traditional, clean feel, while
incorporating a more artistic quality. The originality of the piece
lends itself to the sense of it being more artistic.
Just my humble opinion.
I must have been mistaken…I thought you were in New York City or
near? I thought I wanted intrinsic value too…until I got wholesale
accounts and found out. I pulled up the Manak site this morning
because another poster suggested them as a source for diamond beads.
What beautiful things! Maybe you could meander around some shows like
Crafts Park Avenue (artrider.com) to see what’s out there (if you
don’t do this kind of thing already)…In the Boston area at holiday
time is Crafts at the Castle (google crafts castle Boston and it
should come up). If you already have an established client base for
your work, what would hurt in putting a few (to start) experimental
pieces in the mix?
You have the frugality thing pegged. I was riding my bike with the
kids one day a couple weeks ago and passed a woman with a matching
set…turquoise slide pendant and earrings. I felt obligated to make
nice (because she lives in the neighborhood) so I said “gee, I
admired your pendant the other day, it’s very pretty”. She said one
word, “Target”…I wanted to go home and hide under my bed for a
little while. Frugality. Women will pay 150 dollars for jeans and buy
a 15 rhinestone necklace to go with them.
I keep thinking, if I do my best work, all the time, something will
happen. Like, Robert Redford will suddenly call me on the phone and
say “I heard about you”. I let go somewhere along the way. i tried so
hard to figure what I am supposed to be. I struggled with what my
business card calls me…jewelry designer is what I settled on
despite the negative connotations. Too busy to bother so much anymore
with what people think…and now, guess what?, they are buying. I
may not be making 6 figures, but they’re seeking me out. I can’t
figure out what it is, so I just go with it. I don’t know what I will
be doing tomorrow.
That’s why I say, maybe you should meander. I really think meander
is the perfect word for what I mean. Just don’t think about anything
for a while and let go. Something will pop right into your head that
didn’t have room to fit before. You will get an idea…then just go
There was a documentary on Andy Warhol last night. He struggled for
years because he was a prolific illustrator for magazines and made
good money, but he wanted so desperately to be a “fine artist”. On
the surface, one looks at his career and thinks “boy, he was so
successful, that would be great” and then you find out he was
tremendously unhappy. I don’t know if Hanuman will let this part
thru, but…He was living on his own in NYC, struggling with his
sexuality. his favorite thing to do was sketch nudes of young men and
try to court Truman Capote. Mom shows up one day. Her plan is to live
with him and help him find a “nice girl”. Imagine his dismay.
Everyone struggles with who/what they want to be at one point or
another I guess.
Good Luck Neil, I hope I didn’t ramble too much.
Conspicuous consumption of wealth- some people will spend big
money Communication of an aesthetic- some people will wear jewelry
to show that they are individualists and have a refined or
avante-garde artistic sense.
I’m not going to jump into the deeper aspects of this thread. While
it’s impossible to disagree with the above two statements, I don’t
agree that those are the MAIN reasons people buy and wear jewelry,
exactly, though the second comes close. The #1 reason people buy
jewelry is sentiment - Wedding, school, mother’s rings, religious
events or associations, clubs, corporate, mourning - on and on and
on. The #2 reason, IMHO, is close to the above statement, but I don’t
think most people have ulterior motives. They buy jewelry because it
is a form of personal expression, no different from clothing. Few
women really buy a dress with their first thought being, “People are
going to be impressed with this!”. Sure, maybe it’s their 2nd
thought, but the first thought is, “I like that!” And, having tasted
the high end jewelry business, I can say that people who buy $250,000
necklaces are no different from you or me, they just have deeper
pockets. They are still thinking, not “Boy will they be impressed”,
but “I like that!” I forget the name, but one of Forbe’s richest 400
was said to be making $1 million/Hour the last couple of years. I
have no doubt that his wife/ladyfriend still wears costume earrings
on occasion, just because she likes them. The deepest theory of
jewelry, and all kinds of adornment, is the Peacock theory. People on
an instinctive level are trying to stand out in order to attract
mates, even if they don’t know it consciously.