I chose handmade jewelry and specifically art jewelry as the topic for my first blog for two reasons: first off, although a while back I thought I had a pretty good idea of what “handmade jewelry” meant, I now know that there is great distinction between what various artisans create and call handmade. And second, until a few years ago, I was not aware myself of the concept of “art jewelry.” So let me elaborate!
What is considered to be a handmade piece of jewelry?
Once in a while, I spend time researching what is new in the jewelry world, what are the latest trends, and what new designs my favorite jewelers have created recently. In doing so, it became apparent pretty quickly that handmade ranges from those hand-assembled pieces using ready-made components to those for which the artists started by melting their own metal alloys to make sheets and draw wire and even cut their own stones from rough minerals. You see my point here? I am not contesting that all those pieces are indeed handmade jewelry, but based on the amount of work and skill incorporated in each piece, there is quite the range here to contend with.
What is art jewelry?
Art jewelry is considered to have truly emerged with modernist jewelry in the United States in the 1940s. However, its rudiments can be found in the arts and crafts movement of the late nineteenth century that was a reaction to Victorian taste exemplified by machine-manufactured heavy and ornate jewelry.
Ultimately, most art jewelry is handmade jewelry in its purest form of unique wearable art. It is a manifestation of the artist’s esthetic sensibilities and stands out from the traditional jewelry by the creative employ of mostly non-conventional materials (i.e. glass, concrete, wood). While the value of fine jewelry is derived from the intrinsic value of the traditional materials used (i.e. gold, platinum, silver, precious gemstones), the value of jewelry as art stems from its relation to art and design, the esthetics, style, and reputation of the artist weighing in much more than that of the materials used. Art jewelry is the result of an intimate artistic journey of exploration into new media sometimes resulting in the establishment of new crafting techniques.
Which kind of jewelry is right for you?
Wearing jewelry in one form or another has been something that humans, both male and females, have done for millennia. But whereas in the past it used to be a symbol of one’s wealth, today it is a symbol of one’s individuality. In our consumer-oriented society, handmade jewelry is available from the affordable mass-produced to art - the singularly unique creation never to be exactly reproduced. To the extreme end of the spectrum stand those handmade pieces created exclusively for the discriminating owner, drops of wearable art and a true expression of the individuality of the owner as seen through the lens of the artist craftsman.
All around the world, unique and creative jewelry scenes are flourishing and as jewelry designers develop their own artistic expressions, their work is being featured in art galleries, coveted by collectors, and even featured in museums.
Who am I and what is my brand, zMoxy, all about?
In short, I am a formally trained environmental engineer who worked in consulting for over 20 years. I have strong roots in Romanian culture and claim European sensibilities. In 2010, while visiting a friend in the Netherlands with my husband, she suggested we go see the Sieraad International Jewelry Art Fair, in Amsterdam.
That rainy November morning, when we loaded our bikes on the train and headed to my beloved city of Amsterdam, I had no idea the impact that show was going to have on my life! Booth after booth, I wandered through the exhibition, falling in love with handmade jewelry all over again. I was immersed in the new world of art jewelry and I was in awe! Unbeknownst to me, the seed of jewelry design was planted that day and finally reached maturity in 2013, when I finally took my first class in silversmithing in Albuquerque, New Mexico, and started my jewelry firm, zMoxy in earnest. In the summer of 2016, after a few more classes and countless hours of experimentation on my own, I quit working full time in my engineering career and making jewelry and silversmithing became my sole focus. To see examples on my jewelry, you can visit my website, zMoxy and peruse the page featuring my body of work or see what I am featuring in my store at the moment.
Why write this blog?
Well, I am known to have opinions about everything! So I decided to write about my experiences in the world of jewelry design and share with you my knowledge, successes, challenges, techniques I employ or create, little known facts about precious and semiprecious stones, and tips about how to care for and clean your jewelry. Last but not least, I’ll write about how my travels influence me as a jewelry designer and maker. All in all – everything and anything I find interesting and related to handmade jewelry in general. And guess what? This November, I will be returning for the first time since 2010 to the Sieraad art show in Amsterdam with my friend – and I cannot wait to share with you on this blog my impressions from this trip.
If you love handmade jewelry as much as I do and to find out more about my tries and tribulations on this journey of discovery, please sign up for my blog and share with those friends you think may also be interested. Lastly, I would love to hear what you think about my musings – any and all questions and comments are welcome. Or simply stop by to say hello!
Cristina Radu is known to have opinions about everything! In this blog, she shares her experiences in the world of jewelry design, her knowledge, successes, challenges, techniques she employs or creates, little known facts about precious and semiprecious stones, and tips about how to care for and clean your jewelry. Last but not least, she will write about how her travels influence her as a jewelry designer and maker.