What is Contemporary Jewelry in This Era?

Article  /  CriticalThinking   Essays   Research
Published: 11.10.2023
Sogand Nobahar
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Sophie van Dooren. Ring #4. 18K gold galvanized silver 925, cactus skeleton..
Sophie van Dooren. Ring #4. 18K gold galvanized silver 925, cactus skeleton.

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In the worlds of art and fashion, a unique fusion emerges —one that transcends the ordinary. Here, imagination, fresh concepts, and individual style converge to create wearable art. This captures the essence of contemporary jewelry—an exceptional form of adornment that defies convention. In this article, I want to share with you what I've learned during my journey in this world over the last decade, tracing its origins and understanding its evolving significance in our ever-changing world. I'll be also sharing insights from experts in this field, shedding light on the world of contemporary jewelry, where creativity knows no limits, and each piece has its own tale to share.

Understanding Contemporary Jewelry
Contemporary jewelry, often regarded as a form of wearable art, is a type of jewelry crafted by artists who are actively creating in our present time. It's akin to defining art itself—a canvas for self-expression, experimentation, and pushing the boundaries of traditional jewelry norms.
Boyang Teng. Brooch, Indivisible, 2021. Clay, resin, acrylic, glass beads, plastic fiber, LED light, battery, plastic, Argentum silver. 16 x 6.5 x 5 cm.

Toktam NourKeyhani, a contemporary art and jewelry critic and founder of TLikeTwinkle, beautifully describes contemporary jewelry as the dynamic fusion of art and jewelry, stepping beyond the confines of its comfort zone. It is an art form that breaks traditional codes, fearlessly venturing into bold artistic explorations. These creations are not merely ornamental; they are spatial and conceptual masterpieces.

The Contemporary Jewelry Revolution
Contemporary jewelry exists at the intersection of artistic expression and personal adornment. Just as contemporary art reflects the diverse cultures and ideas of our time, contemporary jewelry mirrors the spirit of our era. It is far from the traditional jewelry you may encounter daily. Instead, it's an exploration of new shapes, textures, and materials.
Paulo Ribeiro, the Director of Contemporania High Craftsmanship Fair in Barcelona, provides us with profound insights into the transformative journey of contemporary jewelry. He reflects on the transition of jewelry from commercial pieces to conceptual works of art, marking a true revolution in the field.
Ribeiro's perspective highlights that this metamorphosis was not without its challenges. It demanded substantial investments in promotion, communication, and education. However, these efforts have paid off immensely, breathing life into a once-niche market. A new generation of art jewelry collectors has emerged, drawn to the uniqueness and creativity that contemporary jewelry offers.

Olga van Doorn. Earpiece, Berries on Small Branches & Headpiece, Atalanta.
Photographer: Pia Mayerhofer, Model with earpiece: Rowan van Sen, Model with headpiece: Pamela Brown

The contemporary jewelry revolution is a testament to the artists' resilience and determination to redefine the boundaries of their craft. It signifies a departure from the traditional and a willingness to embrace the avant-garde. Contemporary jewelry serves as a medium through which artists express their thoughts, emotions, and reflections on the world around them. This revolution in jewelry-making challenges preconceived notions and celebrates the marriage of artistry and adornment.
As Ribeiro appropriately states, The difficulties on the way just gave more energy to the field. The challenges encountered along this transformative journey only fueled the passion of artists and collectors alike. They understood that contemporary jewelry is not just about adornment; it's a way to communicate, to express, and to connect with a broader artistic narrative.
The contemporary jewelry revolution is an ongoing journey. It signifies the continuous evolution of an art form that pushes boundaries, sparks conversations, and tells unique stories through wearable art. It reminds us that in the world of contemporary jewelry, the only limit is the boundless creativity of the artists who shape it.

Eunseok Han. Necklace from recycled can, silver and turquise, 2023.

The Conceptual Component
One of the defining features of contemporary jewelry is its strong conceptual component. Artists in this field aim to convey profound ideas, sparking reflection and discussion. Each piece becomes a story, a metaphor, or an encrypted message that goes beyond its physical form. It's not just an accessory; it's an extension of the wearer.
Laura Forte. Ring Capsule 2, 2023. 3D printed alumide. 4 x 2.9 x 1.7 cm

Laura Forte, Transversal Identity explains that contemporary jewelry, in this era of cultural and artistic evolution, embodies a multiplicity of meanings. It reflects the complexity of our society and the individuality of perspectives. It's an ever-evolving art form that embraces diversity and innovation, carrying profound meanings that connect people through creativity.

Pushing Boundaries with Every Piece
As I explore the world of contemporary jewelry, I see it as a place where artists fearlessly stretch the limits with each new creation. To me, contemporary jewelry is like an exciting journey into the world of shapes, textures, and materials. It is where skilled craftsmanship meets modern innovation in a dance that breaks all the usual rules.

Nobahar Design Milano. Ephemeral Tangle brooch x VONMO gallery, 2023.

Contemporary jewelry artists, in my view, are brave thinkers. They're not afraid to question what jewelry should look like and love to experiment. With each piece they make, they don't just express themselves; they start conversations. They mix different shapes, textures, and materials in ways that fire up the imagination and go beyond expectations. It's not just jewelry; it's an artistic statement, a symbol of daring, a wearable art that convey messages and evoke emotions.
A Medium of Communication
In the words of Eliana Negroni, the curator of Archivio Negroni and Chair of AGC Italian Association for Contemporary Jewelry, contemporary jewelry is not merely a form of adornment; it is a powerful medium of communication. It transcends the realm of fashion and ornamentation, serving as a conduit for dialogue and connection with the world around us.
Tetyana Kalyuzhna. Ring Bud, 2021. Silver, black coral, Swarovski crystals, white flock. 2.5 x 2 x 5.5 cm

How can we define all that? Besides the fact we chose to wear an object that can contain one or more of these features, as bespoke by the author (the designer and/or maker), this "act" is like a daily manifesto*: it invites people we meet to establish a relationship with us. It goes beyond just a look or the beginning of a conversation; it's an act of communication in itself.
As Negroni notes, it often begins with a simple glance from an admirer, curious about the intriguing piece adorning its wearer. This initial exchange can evolve into a conversation that transcends the superficial and delves into the deeper layers of art, culture, and individuality.
Each piece of contemporary jewelry, as Negroni suggests, carries with it a narrative—a narrative that encapsulates the artist's creativity, the wearer's identity, and the observer's curiosity. It becomes a symbolic bridge between the three, fostering a sense of community and shared appreciation for the art form.
In essence, contemporary jewelry is a silent language, a visual expression that invites others to join in the conversation. It is not confined to the realm of aesthetics; it is a medium through which we communicate our values, our beliefs, and our artistic sensibilities. As we wear contemporary jewelry, we not only adorn ourselves but also invite the world to engage with our unique story, making it a remarkable medium of connection and communication.

* “manifesto quotidiano” [daily manifesto]: We ought this expression from the unforgettable GianCarlo Montebello (Milano, 1941-2020)


Roussey 3D. Life is a Flower, 2023.

In conclusion, I think we can say contemporary jewelry is a vibrant and ever-evolving art form that transcends traditional boundaries. It merges creativity, innovation, and personal expression, inviting wearers and admirers to engage in meaningful conversations. With each piece, contemporary jewelry artists challenge norms, push boundaries, and tell unique stories through wearable art. It is a medium of communication, a reflection of our era's cultural and artistic evolution, and a testament to the diversity and complexity of humanity. So, the next time you wear a piece of contemporary jewelry, remember that you are not just adorning yourself; you are carrying a piece of art, a message, and a connection with the world.


About the author

Sogand Nobahar is a dynamic Multidisciplinary Designer and Creative Director known for her love of vibrant colors and contemporary aesthetics. Throughout her career, she has taken on various roles, including design, photography, and creative project direction, finding great joy and fulfillment in every aspect of her work. Sogand actively engages in a wide range of projects, addressing the needs of both traditional Web2 platforms and the exciting world of Web3. Her dedication lies in helping artists and small businesses express their unique personalities through aesthetics that genuinely reflect their vision.
In addition to her creative work, Sogand has also explored her entrepreneurial side. In 2017, she launched her own contemporary jewelry brand, crafting colorful and bold pieces. Furthermore, in 2022, she ventured into the realm of digital fashion and jewelry, co-founding a startup that consistently seeks new opportunities and pushes boundaries while committing to paving the way for contemporary style and design in the Web3 era. Currently, her focus includes AR development for jewelry pieces.
In her writings, Sogand openly shares her experiences and challenges as both a designer and business owner. She believes in transparency and supporting other creatives by discussing her struggles, fostering mutual support in their creative journeys. Additionally, she enjoys sharing her research and insights on design and utilizing digital tools to effectively market products, drawing from the valuable lessons she has learned throughout her entrepreneurial endeavors.
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