Handcrafted jewellery is a testament to the skill, creativity, and passion of artisans who bring their visions to life. It’s more than just an accessory; it’s a wearable work of art. The process of creating handmade jewellery involves a convergence of creativity and skill.
Artists like Dali, Picasso, Man Ray, and Louise Bourgeois have even ventured into the realm of jewellery, showcasing their artistry in this medium.
In a world saturated with mass-produced items, handmade jewellery stands out for its uniqueness, attention to detail, and the story behind each piece. Each piece of handcrafted jewellery carries with it the touch of the artisan’s hand, making it a truly special possession.
So, the next time you wear a piece of handcrafted jewellery, remember that you’re not just wearing an accessory. You’re wearing a piece of art, a story, and a testament to an artisan’s skill and creativity.
History of handcrafted jewellery
The history of handcrafted jewellery is as fascinating as the pieces themselves. It dates back to the dawn of time, with the earliest records of handmade jewellery being made by Neanderthals in Europe. Perforated beads made of sea shells and small stones have been found in a cave called Cueva de los Aviones in Spain, and these have been dated as far back as 115,000 years ago.
Jewellery has been a universal form of adornment since prehistoric times. It was made from shells, stone, and bones, and was likely worn as a protection from the dangers of life or as a mark of status or rank. With the discovery of how to work metals, the art of jewellery making took a significant leap forward. Over time, metalworking techniques became more sophisticated and decoration more intricate.
Gold, a rare and highly valued material, was often buried with the dead to accompany its owner into the afterlife. Much archaeological jewellery comes from tombs and hoards. Sometimes, as with the gold collars from Celtic Ireland which have been found folded in half, it appears people may have followed a ritual for the disposal of jewellery.
Throughout history, jewellery has been used as a status symbol and a way to show wealth and power. Early Native American tribes crafted beautiful handmade jewellery from beads, feathers, and bones.
Today, handcrafted jewellery continues to be a cherished art form, with artisans around the world creating stunning pieces from a variety of materials. Whether it’s a simple beaded necklace or an intricate gold filigree brooch, each piece of handcrafted jewellery carries with it a piece of history and the touch of the artisan’s hand.
Different types of handcrafted jewellery
Handcrafted jewellery comes in a variety of types, each with its own unique techniques and materials. Here are some of the different types of handcrafted jewellery:
- Wire Wrapped Jewellery: This type of jewellery is easy to spot as it uses a lot of wire. Most jewellers use wire wrapping to create pendants or charms.
- Beaded Jewellery: Beaded jewellery involves stringing together beads in a specific pattern to create a piece of jewellery.
- Fabricated Jewellery: This involves manipulating metal to create a piece of jewellery. It can include techniques such as soldering, sawing, forging, and riveting.
- Hand Stamped/Engraved Jewellery: This involves stamping or engraving designs or words onto a piece of metal.
- Enameled Jewellery: This involves fusing powdered glass to a substrate by firing, usually between 750 and 850 °C (1,380 and 1,560 °F). The powder melts, flows, and then hardens to a smooth, durable vitreous coating on metal, or on glass or ceramics.
- Polymer Clay Jewellery: This involves creating jewellery pieces from polymer clay, a type of harden able modeling clay.
- Terracotta Jewellery: This involves creating jewellery pieces from terracotta, a type of earthenware, a clay-based unglazed or glazed ceramic.
Each type of handcrafted jewellery has its own unique charm and beauty. Whether you’re a fan of the intricate designs of wire wrapped jewellery or the vibrant colors of beaded jewelry, there’s a type of handcrafted jewellery out there for everyone.
Materials used in handcrafted jewellery
Handcrafted jewellery can be made from a variety of materials. Here are some commonly used ones:
- Silver: Silver is a precious metal and is often used in jewellery making. It is soft, malleable, and highly reflective. However, due to its softness, it can scratch and bend under repetitive daily wear.
- Gold: Gold is a bright reddish-yellow precious metal. Pure gold is soft and is rarely used in its pure form for jewellery. It is usually alloyed with other metals to produce a harder material.
- Platinum: Platinum is another metal used in jewellery making.
- Ceramics: High-precision ceramics mixed with preciousmetal alloy powder are used in jewellery. The composition of the precious metal alloy powder determines its colour.
- Artificial crystals: Artificial crystals, like Swarovski, are commonly used in jewellery.
- Other Metals: In addition to gold, silver, and platinum, designers often choose titanium, copper, aluminium, and other non-precious metals for jewellery design.
- Wood: Wooden material is gentle and moving. Its unique warmth and texture give designers more possibilities for inspiration.
- Unique materials: These include PVC, acrylic, silk, biological materials (food materials, bacteria, etc.), and building materials.
- Threads, wires, findings, beads, and charms: These are also essential supplies required for creating jewellery.
- Glass, clay, and leather: These materials are also used in jewellery making.
Each material has its own unique properties and can contribute to the overall design and aesthetic of the piece. The choice of material can greatly influence the style, durability, and cost of the jewellery.
Supporting artisans and their craftsmanship
Supporting artisans and their craftsmanship is crucial for several reasons:
- Preservation of Traditional Skills: Artisans hold the key to preserving traditional craftsmanship. These skills, passed down through generations, encompass a wealth of knowledge and techniques that would otherwise be lost.
- Ethical Production: Artisans often work on a small scale, sourcing materials locally and employing sustainable production methods.
- Quality and Durability: Artisan-made products are known for their superior quality and durability.
- Promoting Cultural Diversity: Artisans’ creations often reflect local traditions, aesthetics, and stories.
- Empowering Artisans and their Communities: When you purchase artisan-made products, you directly support the livelihoods of talented individuals and their communities.
Here are some practical ways to support local artisans:
- Buy locally crafted products: One of the most direct ways to support local artisans is to buy their work.
- Attend local artisan fairs and exhibitions: This is another great way to support local artisans.
- Promote local artisans on social media: Sharing their work online can help them reach a wider audience.
- Commission work from local artisans: This not only supports the artisan financially, but also results in a unique piece of art or craft.
- Take classes or workshops offered by artisans: This can help to keep traditional crafting techniques alive.
Where to buy handcrafted jewellery
Here are some places in Sussex where you can buy handcrafted jewellery:
Montague Gallery Worthing: Montague Gallery prides itself in the quality and variety of affordable work for sale in all genres to include paintings, prints, photography, linocuts, wood and metal, textiles, stained and fused glass, screen-prints, ceramics, and jewellery.
Shoreham Art Gallery: Shoreham Art Gallery showcases a variety of artworks by 24 artists, ranging from paintings, ceramics, sculptures, mosaics, jewellery, textiles and more.
Remember to check their opening hours before you visit. Enjoy your jewellery shopping!
Conclusion: Celebrating the beauty and creativity of handcrafted jewellery
Handcrafted jewellery is more than just a fashion accessory. It is a form of art that expresses the personality, style and vision of the maker and the wearer. Handcrafted jewellery can showcase a variety of materials, techniques and designs, from traditional to contemporary, from simple to intricate, from elegant to quirky.
Handcrafted jewellery can also tell a story, convey a message or evoke an emotion. By choosing handcrafted jewellery, we are supporting the creativity and craftsmanship of independent artists, as well as celebrating our own individuality and diversity. Handcrafted jewellery is a beautiful way to adorn ourselves and connect with others.
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