Removing the barriers between art and jewelry, intercepting the point at which jewelry transcends the concept of fashion accessory to become a piece of art, defining the meaning of equality in creativity. We spoke with Melanie Grant, author, curator and journalist for The Economist.


Lalique was a glass artist and one of the forerunners of Art Nouveau jewelry. Dalì, in addition to his pictorial masterpieces, minted coins and transferred his surrealist soul into jewelry, contributing to defining a fundamental moment in the history of contemporary jewelry. Klimt’s father was a goldsmith and firmly believed in equality of creativity among all artists. If there are no limits or conventions when it comes to artists in the art world, why is it still so difficult to define someone who only creates jewelry as an artist? How many and what are the critical issues that need to be addressed so that we can finally talk about equality of creativity in jewelry? We asked Melanie Grant, author of the book “Coveted: Art and Innovation in High Jewelry”.

The question that is often asked, namely, when is a piece of jewelry synonymous with art, involves three factors that constitute real barriers in the path that a piece of jewelry must follow in order to reach the Olympus of Fine Arts artists: the intrinsic value of the materials; the idea of preciousness; the perception of what can be defined as precious. Let’s start from the beginning. Since the time of Ancient Egypt, gold jewelry has always  been associated with the idea of currency, the value of which is determined by the material used. Therefore, the first real obstacle that an item of jewelry encounters stems from the fact that it is always valued according to the amount of gold and the stones it contains. An approach that debases its very essence, especially when compared to the way we view a painting: has anyone ever asked how much the canvases and paints cost before appreciating its artistic value?

Then there is the tangible problem of hierarchies: an all-round artist is someone who paints or creates sculptures, while it is difficult to think of someone who designs and makes a unique piece of jewelry as such. Lastly, the third barrier is absence of meaning because many pieces of jewelry are designed to be a product that focuses on quantity and merely have a decorative function, made to embellish. The concept of equality of creativity must start from an analysis of these three factors, from the assumption that all artists are equal and that diversity lies only in the type of art you have chosen to follow. You are an artist if you produce something with artistic integrity, even if you only create jewelry.


This article appeared on 29th March 2022.

Written by Federica Frosini.




get in touch