Layers of Value

As I enter my first module, each week my classmates and I will be introduced to a new topic, this week it was ‘value’. Coming from the auction world this was a topic in one context I understood. I was eager to learn more…and we journeyed through status, love, memory, art, tools of worship, protection, monetary, functionality, skilled making, intrinsic, sentimental, historic, conceptual, aesthetic and fashion to name a few.

Working from a historical background, its seems natural to me to be drawn towards work which circles sentimentality and provenance.  Lin Cheung’s assay ‘Wear, wearing, worn: The Transitions of Jewels to Jewellery’  published in New Directions in Jewellery II by Damian Skinner, discusses many of the topics I have been approaching in my own work.

‘All jewellery also has the endless capacity to hold personal, unique meaning for the wearer, eventually defining the piece beyond its initial design and conception. By wearing, owning and interacting with jewellery, we breathe new life into it. We activate it and set it on a life-long journey to collect and absorb its surroundings.’

On reading this I look down to my own hand where I wear my grandmothers wedding band alongside my husband’s great grandmothers wedding band. These unremarkable plain gold rings haven’t left my fingers in years, their history now entwined with mine. Replacing them wouldn’t be possible and I realise how much they mean to me.

Cheung goes onto discuss ‘jewellery-to-be’, a fascinating concept that jewellery is incomplete, just a jewel, until we attach meaning or in the example of Rolf Sach’s Strip Bracelet, 1995, where it requires physical intervention to transform the perfect silver sheet into a piece of jewellery.

Within my own research I had started to look at Victorian silverware and jewellery boxes, I was always excited before opening a new box, what history did it house, whose story will it tell, or as Cheung describes Maria Militsi’s work ‘the alluring emotional space found inside vintage jewellery boxes’.

Running in parallel to my understanding from the auction world, albeit intrinsic, provenance, maker and condition, but in essence it is the layering of values that will add depth to my own work and I know this will be a key factor I will need to develop in my own craft.

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