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Let's talk about Contemporary Art Jewelry in the Chinese Market

Published: 07.03.2022
Author:
Chenni Sheng
Edited by:
Klimt02
Edited at:
Barcelona
Edited on:
2022
Exhibition "Metalism. Re-thinking narrativity in metal at the Royal College of Art" at B.R. Gallery in Beijing, 2021. .
Exhibition "Metalism. Re-thinking narrativity in metal at the Royal College of Art" at B.R. Gallery in Beijing, 2021.

© By the author. Read Klimt02.net Copyright.

Intro
Klimt02 is interested in discovering and showing our audiences the topic we have detected in the cultural environment, such as the subject of market, sales, and collecting of contemporary jewelry. The Chinese market of contemporary art including jewelry and craft is expanding and keeps developing in recent years. We would like to bring our readers to explore more about this young and vibrant market through this interview.

中文版 - Chinese version      View / hide description

In the jewelry world, it's common for people to wear more than one hat, for instance, one could be an artist, designer, at the same time teacher, curator, or writer... These enthusiastic "jewelry people" continually irrigate the field and explore the boundary with their expertise, cooperation, and persistence. They look forward to seeing sweet fruits from this beautiful flower of contemporary jewelry.

This time we invited 6 "jewelry people" from China who are active in recent years in the scene of contemporary jewelry domestically also globally to share their thoughts on this topic. They are Doctor Laura Leng - Executive Dean of AIVA Academy of International Visual Arts  in, Felicia Li - Artist, Curator, Founder of Vonmo Studio, Sally Li - Co-founder and Director of B.R. Gallery, Xiao Liang - gallerist of The Closer Gallery, Zhenghong Wang - Artist, Deputy dean and professor at the School of Handicraft Art, China Academy of Art and Ziqi Xing - Designer, Curator, Founder of RMS Studio.

They combine their specific experiences from different roles in the contemporary jewelry industry and bring us a comprehensive picture of the Chinese market with their comments. As we all know, it's never a smooth journey of dedicating to the market, not even to mention it's still a relatively new field for Chinese customers. However, besides the difficulty and challenges they met in the past years, they also talked about opportunities to catch up and their corresponding plans. We could see that the bright future is a shared aspiration of these six pioneering interviewees.

It is our consensus to promote contemporary art jewelry and expand the entire market. Some phenomena mentioned in this interview do not only happen in China but are also in the contemporary jewelry industry in general. We hope through this interview and our upcoming content to integrate the local experience into the whole to contribute different perspectives for professionals in this field.



What is the approach of Chinese customers to Contemporary jewelry? What do you think a client is looking for in contemporary jewelry work?

Laura Leng (AIVA School & Gallery, Shanghai)

For Chinese consumers, contemporary jewelry is still a very new topic. But in recent years, with the development of the local fashion industry and buyer market, as well as the promotion on social media, the public has been changed a lot about the idea of jewelry. More designer brands and fashion accessory brands started to come into the view of consumers. I believe with this great development, contemporary jewelry can be known by more Chinese consumers in the soon future. However, in the field of art jewelry, because of the lack of art galleries, the limitation of International resources and information channels, more attention and support should be paid to the related exhibitions, information resources, and media platforms. At the same time, it needs everyone's effort in the field of jewelry to promote contemporary art and jewelry and I believe it will develop faster.

Sally Li (B.R. Gallery, Beijing)
First of all, few galleries in China focus on contemporary jewelry, and artists’ contemporary jewelry works are not exposed widely in public. And the price is much higher than the common consumers’ expectation due to the high cost of producing. While the common consumers haven’t seen, understand, or accept contemporary jewelry, they often don’t accept the fact that the value of the traditional precious metal is not the essential part of contemporary jewelry. Actually, they should see the intention, the aesthetic through the artwork, or how it reflects the times. Common jewelry consumers are under influence of traditional jewelry and have a preference for gold, diamond, jade, and colored gem. Also the chase of luxury brand jewelry — sometimes some consumers confuse the concept of designer brand jewelry with contemporary jewelry.

 
  • Common jewelry consumers are under influence of traditional jewelry and have a preference for gold, diamond, jade, and colored gem. Also the chase of luxury brand jewelry — sometimes some consumers confuse the concept of designer brand jewelry with contemporary jewelry.


Ziqi Xing (Ruddy Metal Studio, Beijing)
Domestic consumers approach contemporary jewelry through school academic exhibitions, domestic and foreign online media, or private art galleries which hold events like exhibitions, fairs, sales, sharing, and workshops. Those who choose to contact and buy contemporary jewelry, I personally divide them into contemporary jewelry artists or students, art-related majors or practitioners, art lovers, and collectors. Different groups of people have different cognitions and expectations. However, whether contemporary jewelry is the profession they are familiar with, or is collected like another art form, it has been in the emerging stage of development in China in recent years. I see that many people are looking forward to learning more about the process of thinking behind the work and establishing a kind of communication and connection.

Xiao Liang (The Closer Gallery, Beijing)
I think the customers in China don't have many opportunities to get a lot of exposure to real "contemporary jewelry". So, the group of people who closely follow contemporary jewelry and willing to purchase jewelry works normally has a certain artistic cultural background with high acceptance and a good understanding of new things. They would treat jewelry work as artwork rather than traditional jewelry. In terms of their expectation, everyone has different ideas. However, a sense of beauty, wearability, and value in the art is essential for a jewelry work to be appreciated by customers.

Felicia Li (Vonmo Studio, Beijing)
In the past, I didn't think that many consumers in China could have access to contemporary jewelry, for the following reasons:
First, there are not many contemporary jewelry exhibitions, and most of them are held on campus by universities; the quality of these exhibitions varies widely, and each is more like a hodgepodge. The visitors are mostly students, industry insiders, and people from other the design or art field. Due to the low quality of some exhibitions' planning and the limited numbers of exhibitions, the public couldn't tell what contemporary jewelry is, what good contemporary jewelry is, and even give a wide berth simply because it is "contemporary art". The public could not really fulfill their needs from the exhibitions (such factors as not being able to understand the works, and the psychology that "contemporary" must be very expensive), and naturally, they will not become consumers and wear the jewelry works, so, contemporary jewelry has basically been "digested" only by people from this industry so far.

Second, contemporary jewelry galleries and contemporary jewelry studios in society are hard to survive. The earliest examples include Ubi Gallery, and several galleries and studios in 798 ArtDist Beijing, which were later closed one after another. As far as I know, there are only two contemporary jewelry galleries and a very few contemporary jewelry studios in Beijing at present, but they have so much difficulty in running that they have to be sustained with government projects or other businesses. As a result, the exhibition space is too limited to form a viable market, and as far as we can see, there are only sporadic sales, and self-entertainment within the industry.

Third, there are actually no artists who make a living from contemporary jewelry. Most of the people who create contemporary jewelry are students in school or students who are going to study abroad; the artists who still maintain contemporary jewelry creating after graduation are mostly teachers in universities, while those who stay in the society and run a studio with producing contemporary jewelry works at high frequency are very rare (well, perhaps there are many out there I don't know of).

So, a few years ago, I always thought "since there is no soil for artists in China, how could consumers be cultivated?" However, since last year I have found that many online platforms focusing on design and art have begun to explore the commercial value of contemporary jewelry. Maybe it is because a large number of graduation shows majoring in contemporary jewelry have attracted attention, and a large number of contemporary jewelry works have stepped into the public eye through online publicity. My studio has also received many cooperation invitations from not a few media and platforms, which is a good start. And I find it interesting that they happen to choose the same direction to try — "wearable art". China is now in an era of network traffic, and when these large-traffic platforms start to pay attention to contemporary jewelry, it proves that contemporary jewelry has a market in China. So they are attempting to do projects with artists or personal studios.

 
  • My studio has also received many cooperation invitations from not a few media and platforms [...] I find it interesting that they happen to choose the same direction to try — "wearable art". China is now in an era of network traffic, and when these large-traffic platforms start to pay attention to contemporary jewelry, it proves that contemporary jewelry has a market in China.


Zhenghong Wang (China Academy of Art, Hangzhou)
In my opinion, art jewelry in China emerged from the beginning of this century, and it has been 15-16 years since then. But the influence of contemporary art jewelry is still limited to circles in this field.

Contemporary art jewelry sometimes attracts customers through exhibitions, inviting them to participate and see. For this kind of seeing, the first step is dialogue. The second is thinking - thinking about what contemporary art jewelry is. However, sometimes the public still looks at it with vacant eyes as they don't understand it. The first is the material, and the second is why the jewelry is made. They can't fully accept it because they usually think that many of the materials in contemporary jewelry are cheap, or that some pieces are not so wearable. So in my opinion, there is still a gap between contemporary art jewelry and the market.

In the first decade of this century, customers still knew nothing about contemporary art jewelry. In recent years, due to the continuous "bombing" of exhibitions organized by various art academies, some members of the public have begun to understand what contemporary art jewelry is. In galleries, schools, or public art galleries, they encountered art jewelry, learned about art jewelry, and later looked forward to art jewelry, and some even studied art jewelry.




Maybe you have a series of actions to reach the customers. What is special about your actions and the biggest difficulties when entering the jewelry market?

Xiao Liang (The Closer Gallery, Beijing)

The Closer Gallery is currently a comprehensive space for exhibitions and sales, integrating a professional contemporary jewelry gallery and a design shop, so we have relatively direct contact with consumers. Just like the meaning of "The Closer", I hope to find a way to make contemporary jewelry closer to the public, and closer to life. This is why we chose the location of the gallery in Beijing Hutong, a historical and humanistic community.

At the beginning of the establishment of the gallery, speaking of difficulties we met, I would say the limitations of the media communication channels. In the entire art industry, jewelry art has only received relatively limited attention, and there are only a handful of channels that can "voice". So at the beginning of our business, we also established a public account from the media to release newsletters and introduce exhibitions. It has gradually accumulated followers which let as many people as possible can hear our voices. Fortunately, at almost the same time, domestic jewelry-related self-media appeared one after another: New Jewelry World, Everything About Jewelry, UcIc Art Jewelry, Donghe Cooperative, The Third Voice | Notes on Jewellery and Culture, and so on. The content creators behind these self-media channels can be found all over the country and even all over the world. It is they who let more and more professional and academic content about contemporary jewelry be disseminated on a larger scale so that our group could receive more attention from the public. We should thank each of them who have been working in this field.

 
  • At the beginning of the establishment of the gallery, speaking of difficulties we met, I would say the limitations of the media communication channels. In the entire art industry, jewelry art has only received relatively limited attention, and there are only a handful of channels that can "voice".


The Closer Gallery, Beijing


 
Laura Leng (AIVA School & Gallery, Shanghai)
I am also a collector of contemporary jewelry. My working environment gives me the honor to meet many great contemporary jewelry artists who are also friends of mine. They teach the subject of jewelry in some renowned art academies in the UK and USA. Their works are brilliant with touching concepts, new materials, or techniques. These are the things that move me. And our school also has its service of contemporary jewelry gallery - AIVA gallery, which represents great artists and our outstanding graduates' work. We always welcome them. At the same time, we hope to provide a platform to sell and promote.

The biggest challenge when entering the market is promotion. There are very limited methods of promotion - basically, the website and WeChat official account are the main tools. To run other social media channels costs a big amount of energy and money. We have been working hard to keep a regular schedule for art-sharing activities and exhibitions in order to maintain our online followers and to make new friends. Fortunately, there are many such art-sharing or art fairs in Shanghai and they are very popular among the youth.
 
Felicia Li (Vonmo Studio, Beijing)
As a matter of fact, I have tried all directions I can think of since I started running my studio: the very popular jewelry experience course during 2014-2016 (like a passing fad); later, I held some professional courses, and there were not a few customers for this course, but only by recruiting high-quality students could we give full play to the value of this major, so it was very unstable; from 2017 to 2019, I cooperated with The Palace Museum on some products and art jewelry, but due to the limitation of the famous IP, it was almost impossible to even recover the cost or achieve a good publicity effect; also, I participated in several large exhibitions (like China International Jewelry Exhibition in Beijing and in Shanghai, where there are often high-consumption groups); the sales in Shanghai were not bad and I received a lot of feedback; some consumers told me frankly that "Your works are very good, but I won't buy them", and it can be seen that the public still have doubts about the consumption of contemporary jewelry (because it does not conform to the Chinese people’s traditional view, they have no confidence in its value estimation and value preservation, and there are such problems as being inconvenient to wear in daily life); I intermittently participated in some fairs as a vendor, for example, the Woodstock (I think it is the most popular fair in Beijing, and I will try some fairs in Shanghai in the future), sometimes it sold well, but sometimes not a single piece was sold in a day.

The domestic and foreign markets are so different that I have to try the various ways one by one, including working with various platforms and institutions. I have always been patient with and confident in the Chinese market, and only in this way can I face all kinds of difficulties.

Sally Li(B.R. Gallery, Beijing)
Through contemporary jewelry exhibitions we hold, there are art lovers and random audiences visiting the gallery. They prefer wearable jewelry for daily life, not over the top but showing their special taste. Those works created by artists themselves independently from the process of design to production normally are too expensive to accept for most consumers. Because it’s a new experience for them, and they only associate it with the value of the original material and the market price of similar jewelry. People who understand the intention of creating behind the work and its artistic expression would accept the price. They will continue buying more works from different artists, however, there are still very few of these kinds of consumers.
 
Ziqi Xing (Ruddy Metal Studio, Beijing)
I connected with consumers through workshops, sharing activities, and cross-border art exhibitions involving local and international artists. Besides the exhibition, the workshop is my preferred platform to connect, it is more intimate, allows potential collectors an opportunity to understand the creative process behind each artwork, and makes a connection with the artist. For example, I invited Korean artist Seulki Lee to conduct a studio workshop to showcase her “Smile” series when she was in Beijing for an exhibition. A similar workshop was organized for collectors to experience Canadian artist Aurélie Guillaume’s art when she was our studio’s residency artist.  

I have organized interactive exhibitions showcasing not just contemporary jewelry but other art forms to broaden the appeal and break down people’s pre-established understanding of what jewelry should be. This act of deconstruction I believe is the soul of contemporary jewelry. The exhibition Experiment last year was a great example of what I am trying to achieve, and it was selected by Klimt02 as one of the 40 Recommended Exhibition in 2020.

Contemporary jewelry does not lack appreciators. But, how to break the correlation between the material used and perceived monetary value and reaching a wider audience outside of the “art circle” are topics I often think about.


Opening day of exhibition Experiment, co-curated by Ruddy Metal Studio and TOBACK, 2020.


Zhenghong Wang (China Academy of Art, Hangzhou)
Some of our products are sold through the school as a brand. But as a teacher in the college, after all, I only have 8 hours of working time a day. If all the hours are spent for the school, there will be very little time for the brand. So it is not that we cannot make it, but that the investment is not enough. For example, when I haven’t started to build up the major for the school, I did a good job with JNBY. But once I started to build and manage the major, I was confused about the allocation of time, and it’s indeed impossible to take care of the two.

Paths and experience are accumulated slowly. The tastes of the overall consumers in the Chinese market need to be classified, because China has a population of 1.4 billion, and there is a big gap in aesthetics. Different regions, different ethnic groups, different cultures, different economic levels, and different educational backgrounds… people have different aesthetic preferences. The cognition and interest of fashion are also different, which determines their requirements for products at the same time. Now in China, most of the good brands can be bought at low prices on Taobao, but they are all copies or imitations without copyright. Yesterday, I saw a product that is completely a miniature version of a large sculpture, such as a miniature version of Anish Kapoor's sculpture, which is on sale for 38 yuan.

Therefore, the biggest difficulty in the market is not that we are unwilling to challenge. The biggest problem is that the entire jewelry market in China is still relatively chaotic. No restrictions on copyright and plagiarism - they are the biggest obstacle. People have not built up yet their awareness of brands, especially design copyrights, and designers have no reliable channels for rights protection, so they are intimidated in the process of creation, and it is difficult to form high-quality and top-selling products with local cultural aesthetics.

 
  • The biggest problem is that the entire jewelry market in China is still relatively chaotic. No restrictions on copyright and plagiarism - they are the biggest obstacle.



How do you define and position contemporary jewelry in the market of China?

Zhenghong Wang (China Academy of Art, Hangzhou)

I think now the contemporary jewelry in the Chinese market, for instance, the recent international jewelry exhibition organized by Gems & Jewelry Trade Association of China, the circulating products are mainly made out of gems and gold. Jewelry works in silver or combined with more materials are still circulating in a small group of people. The market of jewelry in China is still based on material, and gold forms its backbone. Jewelry’s artistic attributes leading to people’s minds are still dominated by the financial attributes leading to people’s wallets, so there is still a big gap between it and the traditional art market.

Ziqi Xing (Ruddy Metal Studio, Beijing)
I have been part of the so-called Chinese contemporary jewelry scene for nearly 6 years and I think it's still under a “barbaric” development, hence difficult to define or position it. Because there are various intermediate stages, not yet definitive, all of which are actually very interesting including ourselves. We are all experimenting now. 

Xiao Liang (The Closer Gallery, Beijing)
To give a case in point, the entire space at The Closer Gallery is used to present works during the period of each exhibition, which is in the state of a pure "art gallery". Whereas during the non-exhibition period, we will display jewelry works from various designer brands and from jewelry artists together to present a richer look. Jewelry design products and art jewelry works are different but also share things in common. A good design product itself usually is artistic or contemporary, while those artworks liked by the customers also have commercial value. I think they are not separated but exchange good points with each other. When I introduce to the audience, I usually mention very clearly if that jewelry is a product from a designer brand or it's an artist's work. Customers with interest are willing to know the difference between them, thus I could find possibilities to guide them to know "contemporary jewelry". At the same time, we started on purpose inviting artists from non-jewelry majors to participate in our exhibition projects, to strike their creativity on "jewelry" - normally it sparks extra hard-won and unexpected "possibility".

 
  • Jewelry design products and art jewelry works are different but also share things in common. A good design product itself usually is artistic or contemporary, while those artworks liked by the customers also have commercial value. I think they are not separated but exchange good points with each other.


Regarding the "definition" of contemporary jewelry, there is already various conclusion from Chinese or abroad scholars, educators, art critics, and artists, therefore it's well-documented in theory. But as an insider of this field, I often received confusion from contemporary jewelry creators - it seems that "contemporary jewelry" is not identified as contemporary art, either not identified as jewel or jewelry by professionals working in each field. How can contemporary jewelry identify itself? However, if the so-called "defination" means to decide by marking a circle, I think being "uncertain" is much more precious than being "certain".

In fact, some jewelry artists I know, their abilities could let them not be confined to a certain artistic category or cultural identity. Jewelry as a special medium enables them to show the breadth and height of thinking in a small space. They continue to explore and expand the boundaries of jewelry in the changes of the times which may be the more important meaning of the word "contemporary"
 
 

What would you highlight about contemporary jewelry consumption in the market of China compared to other countries? 

Ziqi Xing (Ruddy Metal Studio, Beijing)

Curiosity and desire to understand are the main driving forces of consumption, but consumption driven by the appreciation of artistic interpretation is still cautious. Works by international artists are still more attractive, maybe due to their fascination with foreign cultures.

Xiao Liang (The Closer Gallery, Beijing)
I think wearability and the value of the material is still very important factor affecting jewelry consumption, maybe not only in the Chinese market. Regarding most of my (Chinese or overseas) clients who purchase the jewelry work, the purpose is not only to collect it, but also to wear it. On this basis, if the price of the work reaches a certain level, then the value of the material becomes another factor considered by consumers, and people hope that the work can "preserve the value". Therefore, on the contrary, if a piece of work is neither wearable nor made from precious materials, but its price is relatively high, then the possibility of selling usually will be below.

But for contemporary jewelry work, wearability and materials can no longer be the criteria for judging its artistic value. We hope that people can realize the difference between contemporary jewelry and traditional jewelry in the judgment of "value". Even if people are still unwilling to pay for the artistic value of contemporary jewelry, it has its meaning and necessity to exist. So there are many times even if we can predict in advance that some excellent contemporary jewelry works are actually difficult to sell, we still leave a very important schedule and spend more energy to actively exhibit them and show their charm and value. For this purpose, perhaps for the contemporary jewelry market, it is more imperative for the contemporary jewelry market to do "no-sell" exhibitions than "big-sell" exhibitions.

 
  • If the price of the work reaches a certain level, then the value of the material becomes another factor considered by consumers, and people hope that the work can "preserve the value".

 
Zhenghong Wang (China Academy of Art, Hangzhou)
There are currently several new brands that are thriving and I can see Pop art from them. They are the result of thinking about art and the present Chinese market under the background of a college education. Many artists and designers are seeking a path that could be considered as a bridge connecting the academic and commercial world. They are looking for a plan, and show the brand with character.  For example, now many works from the new generation could be assembled freely which reflect Pop art and the trend of youth.
 
Felicia Li (Vonmo Studio, Beijing)
Whether artists, studios, or galleries, we should not take a lofty stance because of such labels as “contemporary art” and “artists”. Seriously, how many people in China really deserve to be called "contemporary jewelry artists"? I think we may blush at hearing this question. So, come down off our high horse. Now as we are in this position, let's deeply reflect on the development of contemporary jewelry in China. If we want to live up to our consumers, we should refine my work a little bit more, gear the content and form of each exhibition more to the audience, disseminate the truly useful and valuable specialized knowledge to students and consumers, and so on. Actually, most of the time it's not that the consumers don't understand, don't respect or don't listen to us, it's that there's a problem with what we deliver and how we deliver it. As disseminators and promoters, our responsibility and mission should be to make more consumers truly feel the charm of contemporary jewelry, and lead this profession to advance and develop, instead of being compromised by reality again and again.

 
  • If we want to live up to our consumers, we should refine our work a little bit more, gear the content and form of each exhibition more to the audience, disseminate the truly useful and valuable specialized knowledge to students and consumers, and so on.
 


China has a long history of traditional culture, at the same time China is in an era of fast consumption. How do you think this could influence contemporary jewelry consumption?
 
Sally Li (B.R Gallery, Beijing)

It’s very hard to erase the influence of traditional jewelry on common consumers, especially for those who are not interested in contemporary art. But for young people who love art and are willing to try new things, the concept of contemporary jewelry could be accepted gradually. If more and more contemporary jewelry artists could show their unique and charming artwork at an affordable price, and the galleries show them to the public by holding exhibitions and workshops, it could be a virtuous circle in the future which give more chances to promote it in China.
 
Zhenghong Wang (China Academy of Art, Hangzhou)
Our jewelry department in China Academy of Art, since its launch in 2018, has always been devoting itself to the study of Chinese traditional cultures, especially the study based on oriental visual cultures. Our course system, postgraduate project, and graduation field research do not cling to ‘fashionable cities’. Instead, we return to Northwest China and talk with the history to explore in that context. In the first five years, there are many cases of plagiarism among artists, especially in the field of jewelry, but now more projects are based on the study of Chinese traditional culture. Also, since the new era of Xi, the value of local culture are emphasized and it can be seen an all-time increase of the cultural confidence of people. And people are willing to pay more effort and money into those products with the value of local culture. In this context, the side of supply to research and development in the college perfectly matches the side of need outside. “Academic style” and “fast fashion” are no longer a pair of irreconcilable concepts and it’s possible that art jewelry is both local and fashionable, both elite and public, both high-end and popularized.

 
Exhibition Chinese Mythology in Beijing, 2020.


Exhibition Intimate Relationship in Beijing, 2021. Photo by: Banye Lin 林半野.
 

Felicia Li (Vonmo Studio, Beijing)
Contemporary jewelry, which combines traditional Chinese culture and reflections on the current social situation, is our thing and can appeal to Chinese consumers and make them empathize. This is also the development direction of my studio. For example, the exhibition Chinese Mythology I planned in 2020 attracted a lot of Chinese audiences, and the recent exhibition Intimate Relationship is to get out of our small coterie and push contemporary jewelry to a larger platform and market. I have prepared a series of promotion schemes, as well as plans to sell the artists' exhibits. I feel hopeless when I only interact with people in my own coterie, and I want to step out of it and be seen by a wider range of people.

Xiao Liang (The Closer Gallery, Beijing)
In my opinion, contemporary jewelry has nothing to do with “fast consumption”, theoretically speaking it’s not a fast-moving consumer product. In fact, I’ve never met any customer who bought contemporary jewelry on impulse. And I’m more willing to consider my action of dealing with “contemporary jewelry consumption” is to “return it to its rightful owner”. Each jewelry work is waiting for someone suitable to wear it and bring it home. It’s a two-way choice between a piece of jewelry and a person. The right person/jewelry could be met at a right time and the right location.

I would say, the behavior of purchasing and collecting contemporary jewelry is like Chinese people buying “jade” which is quite cautious.  There is a process of looking for it and meeting it, people hope ultimately they could meet that piece of jade that belongs to them. The same goes for contemporary jewelry. All this seems to have nothing to do with “fast”, sorry that I may not answer the question but this is what I want to say.

 
  • I would say, the behavior of purchasing and collecting contemporary jewelry is like Chinese people buying “jade” which is quite cautious.  There is a process of looking for it and meeting it, people hope ultimately they could meet that piece of jade that belongs to them.



Collector Fei Teng wearing Ankie Lee's work. Necklace: Fifty-six, 56. Photo by The Closer Gallery for the exhibition Portrait, 2020.


Laura Leng (AIVA School & Gallery, Shanghai)
One thing I am concerned about is that all creations or products, instead of digging into the valuable artistic connotation, become fast-fashion which is only about eye-catching and traffic-catching. And this is the biggest problem we face for our long-standing historical culture, isn't it?

Ziqi Xing (Ruddy Metal Studio, Beijing)
Under rapid economic development and international integration, the Chinese traditional culture itself is in uncharted waters. The Chinese customers are experiencing huge changes in consumption patterns, and confusion of consumption concepts. Consumers are willing to accept new things and ideas, and learn how to critique and appreciate, their concept is between deconstruction and reconstruction. This is the perfect stage for the growth of contemporary jewelry in China. The era of fast consumption has also impacted consumers' recognition of value. Atsushi Miura of Japan once put forward a view that goods are self-projection, so I think consumers who have clearer value recognition and self-recognition will precipitate in the era of fast consumption. Consumers who pay attention to these concepts and clearly appreciate the relationship between consumables and self-identity will be consumers of contemporary jewelry.

 
  • The Chinese customers are experiencing huge changes in consumption patterns, and confusion of consumption concepts. Consumers are willing to accept new things and ideas, and learn how to critique and appreciate, their concept is between deconstruction and reconstruction.



How do you see the development of Contemporary Jewelry and its market in China? What is the biggest advantage do you think China market has nowadays?

Larua Leng (AIVA School & Gallery, Shanghai)

The development of the Chinese market has great potential. The people attach great importance to culture and have a strong curiosity which is not hard to feel from our travel enthusiasm — Chinese consumers are happy to find out and experience the unknown. Therefore, although contemporary jewelry is relatively new to the Chinese market, I believe it will be quite easy to be accepted by the public. Of course, it depends on the development prospects of Chinese art itself, so it still needs time and everyone's efforts. I hope that some public art galleries or museums will give more support to jewelry which is the best way to promote it to the public. I think young people, as a very important part of the market, are our great advantage. Whether in terms of the capacity or concept of consumption, young people are the core of the market.

 
  • Although contemporary jewelry is relatively new to the Chinese market, I believe it will be quite easy to be accepted by the public. Of course, it depends on the development prospects of Chinese art itself, so it still needs time and everyone's efforts.

 
Felicia Li (Vonmo Studio, Beijing)
The biggest advantage of the Chinese market is the powerful Internet and the rise of We-Media (self-media), as well as a large number of hidden, untapped customer groups (there is indeed a large number of people can be led). The current market is weakening brands while highlighting individuals. In the era of We-Media, which is recognized with personal influence, domestic big names such as Bilibili, RED, and Tik Tok win consumers by individually gaining followers, and there is no need for traditional means of publicity. So, contemporary jewelry is not a matter of "niche and no market", but a matter of whether we are doing it well or not, and once we do it well, there will naturally be market and applause. Therefore, in this year's exhibition, I utilized domestic We-Media (including KOL, etc.), and let’s see if the effect is good or not; anyway, it will meanwhile prove the quality of my exhibition.
 
Zhenghong Wang (China Academy of Art, Hangzhou)
For our upcoming triennial jewelry exhibition - Golden Years, the reason why I will exhibit it at a renowned art gallery in Shanghai, it's because I hope to show contemporary jewelry to build up a bridge in Shanghai which is a core of China, and even of the world. The vision is to connect the craftsmanship of artists with the public’s yearning for a beautiful life, not only for people in China, but also people all over the world; invite great jewelry artists and designers to get together, communicate and explore, and create a beautiful jewelry world worth looking forward to in the future.

 

About the Interviewee



Laura Leng, Doctor of Arts Education at Birmingham City University/Executive Dean of AIVA Academy of International Visual Arts. Since entering the education industry in 1999, Dr. Leng has nearly 20 years of experience in international cooperation projects, and is one of the earliest practitioners of international education projects in China. As early as 2000, she established cooperation projects with overseas universities, and cooperated with Shanghai Jiao Tong University and Shanghai International Studies University to offer undergraduate and master courses to help students complete the connection and transition in China, before going abroad to study. In 2005, Birmingham College of Art and Design successfully introduced the China Preparatory Program, which has been in operation for 13 years. It is also one of the earliest international art preparatory programs in China, and has won awards from overseas partner institutions for many years.


Felicia Li
is a contemporary art jewelry designer and curator. She is the committee member of Gems and Jewelry Trade Association of China. In 2016, she formally established the Vonmo studio and keeps exploring the innovation direction to integrate contemporary art jewelry design and traditional Chinese crafts.





Sally Li
, Co-founder and Director of B.R. Gallery (Beijing & Heqing in China) since 2019 till now. Director of Sheffield Hallam University in China Since 2004 till now. Member of Metal Art Committee of China Arts and Crafts Association Since 2021.















Xiao Liang
, graduated from Central Academy of Fine Arts in jewelry major in 2015. She found The Closer Gallery in 2017.















Zhenghong Wang,
Deputy dean and professor at the School of Handicraft Art, China Academy of Art, Doctor of public art research, and master tutor. The leader of the national first class professional “Handicrafts and Arts”, the core figure of contemporary art jewelry, a specially appointed expert of “Qianjiang Talent Program” in Zhejiang, traditional Pioneer in the research on revitalization of arts and crafts; chief executive and curator of the “Body Alchemy” and “21 Grams” Contemporary International Jewelry and Metal Art Triennial; Degree evaluation expert of the Ministry of Education; Long-term engaged in the creation and teaching research of public art and arts and crafts.



Ziqi Xing, Born in Beijing, currently living and working in Beijing as designer and curator.
Graduated from George Brown College in Canada. After graduate became partner and craft teacher of Atelier contemporary jewelry studio. In the same year, established own studio RMS (ruddy metal studio), which is organization member of klimt02 and member of Society of North American Goldsmiths.












 

About the author

Chenni Sheng, Klimt02 website content and social media manager since 2020, currently works and lives in Hangzhou, China.

She was trained in silversmith during her BA course in Fashion Accessory Design at Zhejiang Sci-Tech University, China. After graduating in 2017, she continued to study jewelry design and achieve MFA degree at Manchester School of Art in the UK.





 
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