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  • Negi Arabani

Art, Design, and the Birth of American Modernist Studio Jewelry

The Beginning

Art jewelry, as the name suggests, is jewelry created by artists often in a studio setting. This unique artform allows artists to showcase different materials, textures, colors, and shapes through bold sculptural pieces that evoke emotion the same way a painting does. Most pieces are crafted with noble materials like wood glass, or clay instead of the traditional gemstones or fine metals found in most jewelry today.

Many people believe that jewelry as art began as early as the late nineteenth century, prior to the modernist jewelry movement of the 1940s.

This influx or art jewelry during this time was a counter-reaction to the Victorian styles, which were heavy, ornate, and often not a reflection of the changing times.

According to Elyse Zorn Karlin, "For most jewelers, art jewelry was a personal artistic quest as well as a search for a new national identity. Based on a combination of historical references, reactions to regional and world events, newly available materials and other factors, art jewelry reflected a country's identity while at the same time being part of a larger international movement of design reform."*

Art jewelry began to pick up steam during the late 19th century, being offered at mainstream retailers like Tiffany & Co.

(Tiffany & Co. Date: 1854–70)

Current Trends in Art Jewelry

In 2020, art jewelry is still very much alive. In fact, Vogue recently detailed its list of top jewelry trends for the Spring of 2020 and it’s chock full of art jewelry. With responsible fashion as the main talking point of the Spring 2020 season, many designers took advantage of earth-friendly materials like shells, stones, and wood to make stand-out 3D accessories that are just as stunning as they are sustainable. Prada, for example, utilized shells, stones, and ropes to make their enviable runway pieces (see below).

Other designers, like Area, Gypsy Sport, and Kenzo went for an even bigger and bolder look in the form of full-body jewelry.

Inspiring Designer

At Negiarabani, we are always inspired by other designers who are pushing the envelope of fashion and art, like Cheryl Eve Acosta.

Cheryl Eve Acosta is a modern art jewelry designer originally from Peurto Rico. Her creations are motivated by an immense appreciation for nature and the wonders of the ocean. Many of her designs embody the beauty of coral, water, shells, and oysters with materials including silver, gold, copper, enamel, and fabric.

One of Cheryl’s favorite pieces is called “Healing.” This piece is a coral-like white collar edged with metal that, when worn around the neck, reaches as high as the ears for added drama (see photo above).

According to Cheryl, “Jewelry and fashion can function as a material reflection of society. With the use of fabric and metal, I challenge the traditional concepts of wearability and the connections between apparel, jewelry, and skin.”

We love her work. If you want to see more from Cheryl, you can view her art jewelry pieces here:



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