Connotations and contributions of the maker: The value of jewels

Article  /  CriticalThinking   Debates   LluisComin
Published: 26.06.2018
Lluis Comín Lluis Comín
Lluís Comín Vilajosana
Edited by:
Edited at:
Edited on:
Lluís Comín Vilajosana. Brooch: Barcino 1, 2017. Silver, gold, steel, jasper of Montjuic.. 6 x 4.5 x 2 cm. From series: Barcino. Lluís Comín Vilajosana
Brooch: Barcino 1, 2017
Silver, gold, steel, jasper of Montjuic.
6 x 4.5 x 2 cm
From series: Barcino
© By the author. Read Copyright.

I would like to define what a jewel is to me; it is an object, usually made with precious materials and which has an ornamental and symbolic relationship with the human body.
We often tend to confuse value and price. The price of a gem is the amount of money that costs (and it serves as an exchange instrument). Value is the connotation and contribution that the creator makes, as well as the meaning and symbolism that the bearer grants to the piece. It is very important to differentiate these two concepts, especially when we talk about something which costs quite a large sum of money; what interests me, is precisely to analyze the non-monetary part of the jewel
There are many possible creative approaches when we face the creation of a jewel.
It may be a request with certain priorities set by the client, whether conceptual or conditioned by the assembly of some element. On these occasions we have to contribute with our technique and sensitivity to the service of the client's interest. When we want to make a piece to be serialized, our approach can be conditioned by technical questions derived from the own serialization and we will surely also have in mind commercial conditions ... we could say that our contribution has a lot to do with industrial design.
We can contribute with more personal value when facing a piece with total freedom, both of concept and material; it is here when each jeweler can fully display their artistic personality.
Little has to do, when you have a magnificent precious stone and what you want is simply (or not so simply) highlight its uniqueness, with when you want to express in one piece the fragility of human existence, for example.
What I want to say with all this is that the contribution to the value that we can make as creators is to know how to filter with our sensitivity and trade the various assumptions with which we find ourselves. From my point of view, these contributions have to reflect in some way the times we live in.
Let's look at the values of the jewel from the bearer´s point of view. Let's imagine a prehistoric hunter- gatherer, imagine that he has just hunted a bear and imagine also that as a ritual act grabs a bear's nail and after making a hole with great effort, he hangs it on his neck.
I do not think that the first jewels had an important ornamental value, but they did have an almost religious meaning;
When this hunter had many nails hanging around his neck it no longer had a ritual value but also and probably more important, a social importance of power and prestige. It meant he was a great hunter and that he could surely provide for a large family.
The nail necklace turned into something similar to the medals for the military. Somehow there are jewels that serve to explain who you are socially or how you want others to see you. If we look at this nail necklace today, we realize that the meanings they had when they were made have been lost and no longer have the same ones.
Another example could be that of a couple who, when deciding to get married, have their wedding rings made. They naturally have a price and symbolic value (love, fidelity, etc.)
Years later and after a happy life in common, one of them dies and the other decides to carry the ring hanging from a chain around the neck. What value does this ring have now? It is another thing; in fact it has even changed its functionality (from ring to pendant) as well as its symbolic value… We cannot talk about the price either ... it does not have it anymore because it has become a symbol.
There is a factor that I consider important and singular in a jewel; when in contact with the body, it somehow captures the essence of the person wearing it, and its aesthetic / artistic value may even become secondary.
One of the problems that traditional jewels have, when trying to analyse them socially, is that the price of the materials is very high and this in many cases causes them to give them an aesthetic and artistic value difficult to separate from the price. In contemporary jewel, all this is much more clear, normally the price of materials is usually low, so their values (symbolic, aesthetic, artistic, etc.) are clearly highlighted.
Imagine now that we take a piece of wood and put a very elaborate gold brooch closure on the back. Gold, which is what has a high value, cannot be seen, we only use it for its technical quality, in contrast wood acquires great aesthetic importance.
There is here, from the traditional point of view, a transgression of values: wood gains prominence while gold has only a technical significance. I have tried to expose some immaterial values of the jewel. If we study and analyze the jewel in all its nuances, we can better understand the evolution of society and delve into the essence of behavior.
It is for all this that we must be aware, when we make a gem, of the importance that can have and it is undoubtedly a good reflection of our society.

About the author

Lluís Comín Vilajosana, was born in Barcelona in 1958. He learns a trade and the art in the jewellery workshop of his father. Degree in gemmology with the specialty in diamonds by the University of Barcelona, by the Gemmological Association of Great Britain and in jewelry by the Massana School.
Lluís Comín Vilajosana. Brooch: Barcino 5, 2017. Silver, gold, bronze, steel, jasper of Montjuic. 9 x 6 x 1 cm. From series: Barcino. Lluís Comín Vilajosana
Brooch: Barcino 5, 2017
Silver, gold, bronze, steel, jasper of Montjuic
9 x 6 x 1 cm
From series: Barcino
© By the author. Read Copyright.
Lluís Comín Vilajosana. Brooch: Barcino 7, 2017. Silver, gold, bronze, steel, jasper of Montjuic.. 9.5 x 5 x 3.5 cm. From series: Barcino. Lluís Comín Vilajosana
Brooch: Barcino 7, 2017
Silver, gold, bronze, steel, jasper of Montjuic.
9.5 x 5 x 3.5 cm
From series: Barcino
© By the author. Read Copyright.