So You Want To Be A Jewelry Designer… WHAT IS JEWELRY, Really?

Warren Feld
25 min readApr 18, 2020

Abstract: We create and wear jewelry because we do not want to feel alone. But “not wanting to feel alone” can mean different things to different people. The jewelry artist must have insight here. The artist needs to understand what jewelry really is in order to make the kinds of successful choices about forms, materials, design elements, inspirations, techniques, arrangements, public presentations and exhibitions and the like. There are different frameworks from which the artist might draw such understanding, including the sensation of jewelry as OBJECT, CONTENT, INTENT or DIALECTIC. All these lenses share one thing in common — communication. Although jewelry can be described in the absence of communicative interaction, the artist can never begin to truly understand what jewelry really is without some knowledge about its creation and without somehow referencing the artist, the wearer, the viewer and the context.

WHAT IS JEWELRY, Really?

Simply put, we create and wear jewelry because we do not want to feel alone.

But “not wanting to feel alone” can mean different things to different people. The jewelry designer, in order to make the best choices and the most strategic choices throughout the process of designing a piece of jewelry, requires some detail and clarity here. What does it mean to say that we create and wear jewelry so we do not want to feel alone?

We might want to reaffirm that we are similar (or different) than someone else or some other group or culture. We might want to signal some connection (or disconnection or mal-connection) with a higher power or mystical source or sense of well-being or with some idea, concept or meaning. We might want to express an intent or feeling or emotion.

We might want to differentiate what it means to be yourself relative to something else, whether animate or inanimate, functional or artistic, part of a dialectic conversation with self or other. We might want to signal or differentiate status, intelligence, awareness, and resolution. We might want to separate ourselves from that which is sacred and that which is profane.

Whatever the situation, jewelry becomes something more than simple decoration or adornment. It becomes more than an object which is worn merely because this is something that we do. It becomes more than a functional object used to hold things together. It is communicative. It is connective. It is…

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Warren Feld

Beading and jewelry making have been wonderful adventures, from custom work, production work, and teaching. *Design is about the ability to make smart choices.