The Art of Jewelry Making: Traditional vs. Conceptual


Written by: Isabel Yun
LdM Jewelry Design student





The repetitive motions of the hammer clang in dissonance; their vibrations rippled against the metal surface…


The magical part of making jewelry with one’s own hands is in my opinion the interaction between the dexterity, the mind and the material and the serendipity of new discoveries in the process of making. As the launch of the Earring Project had made way in Jewelry Making, my classmates and I were encouraged by our Prof. Laura Polsinelli to be as creative as possible with our designs. After learning the basics of metal with the Ring Project and developing a catalogue of metal vocabulary, such as learning how to saw, solder (joining of two pieces with a metal alloy using heat), anneal (prevent cracking or splitting of worked metal; to become malleable), and pickle (to remove oxidation and impurities), we applied our knowledge to the Earring Project. It was exciting to venture off into our own individual and unique ideas!Photo 2_Isabel.1


As I held the silver metal against the bench pin and started making cuts with the jeweler’s saw, I felt privileged to have the opportunity to be a part of the traditional Florentine craftsmanship of jewelry making. The knowledge and skills taught in our class have been passed down through generations, and to have the opportunity to be creating art in this Renaissance city is truly a remarkable experience!


Prior to taking Jewelry Making at LdM, I had taken a conceptual based metal course at my home university. I had learned to appreciate the importance of the concept or idea, as opposed to the aesthetic and material presence and the “artist’s hand.” To be honest, due to the fact that I was looking to appreciate a more labor and craft intensive work of art, I was left hanging a bit “dry” emotionally in response to conceptual art. But while I initially felt this way, I learned that conceptual art actually allows me to broaden my understanding and appreciation for art: it is not always that “pretty picture” displayed on gallery walls, but I believe that art is a vehicle for communication to express one’s own perspective to the world.Photo 1_Andrea.1


While there seems to be a “great divide” between the traditional and conceptual approach, I believe they go hand-in-hand. And now that I’ve experienced both realms, I really feel I have a better understanding and perspective on creation, influencing my own creative ideas and projects. And putting these ideas to practice in my Jewelry Making class was just what I was looking for this semester abroad!


So here’s my advice to my fellow readers: Don’t ever be afraid of new experiences and opportunities, you might be surprised as to what may ignite your inner creativity!


Until next time,