Mike Holmes is the owner of Velvet da Vinci, an art jewelry gallery based in San Francisco.
The New Jewelry doesn’t look so new 20 years on, but this book by Peter Dormer and Ralph Turner remains a good source for serious discussion of what makes art jewelry different from other kinds of jewelry. First published in 1985, it was revised in 1994.
In three sections the book describes the major themes of contemporary work. 'Abstract Jewelry' begins with Hermann Jünger and David Watkins, but includes many lesser-known artists (at least today not so well known) that created very exciting work. The 'Figurative' section includes early work by Bruce Metcalf and Manfred Bischoff. The final section of the book deals with 'Jewelry as Theater.' Experimental pieces like Pierre Degen’s Large loop seem from a more revolutionary time, but Otto Künzli’s 1980s jewelry show how he anticipated many of the ideas that continue to inspire jewelers today.
It is interesting to note that although many jewelers featured in The New Jewelry are still producing work, many others are not. The more radical aspects of the New Jewelry movement petered out long ago, while other forms evolved into the varied field we know today.
The British authors include a number of American artists in the book but the focus is primarily European. The New Jewelry remains valid because of the perceptive and critical writing of the authors. There are biographies of the featured makers and a short section on the important role of galleries and museums in the field. Although out of print, the book can easily be found online at Amazon and Powell’s.