Contemporary Jewelry In Perspective

An AJF funded project!

A synopsis based on excerpts from the introduction by Damian Skinner

CJIP%20%20Bookcover%20120%20px_1 What is contemporary jewelry?Why does it look so different from the jewelry found in the local shopping center or in the pages of glossy magazines? Can it be defined or explained?

What are the kinds of objects and practices that are named by the term contemporary jewelry? How have these objects and practices developed in different countries around the world? What are some of the challenges and opportunities that contemporary jewelry has to face up to in the present moment?

Contemporary Jewelry in Perspective is a resource for the curious and the passionate. It not so much answers the questions above as it reveals and describes a field with a rich history and demonstrates that contemporary jewelry can be thought about in a dynamic way.

The contemporary jewelry field has been deeply shaped by the values and history of the studio craft movement in which individuality and artistic expression are the priority for both the maker and the wearer/owner. Contemporary jewelers follow the model of the art world—distributing their work through galleries with artist statements and catalogs— rather than the track of mainstream commercial jewelry production. These conditions limit widespread public knowledge, understanding, and acceptance of the field.

Contemporary Jewelry in Perspective is divided into three sections. The first “The Spaces of Contemporary Jewelry” offers ways to think about what makes contemporary jewelry a distinctive kind of visual art practice. It does so by exploring seven spaces in which contemporary jewelry circulates—page, bench, plinth, drawer, street, body, and world—and how the meanings and possibilities of contemporary jewelry change as objects and practices move from one situation to another.

The second section “The History of Contemporary Jewelry” provides an introduction to contemporary jewelry as an international practice that has now existed for the better part of 70 years. There are many challenges in properly accounting for contemporary jewelry in different parts of the world, and these essays are a contribution to developing a truly global history.

“Contemporary Thinking for Contemporary Jewelry,” the third and final section, offers a series of perspectives about the issues currently impacting the way contemporary jewelry is made, circulated, and discussed. Much has changed in the way we think about the contemporary jewelry field, and new developments in related fields can inspire different ways to think about contemporary jewelry and its possibilities.


  • Binding: PB, 9 x 11 inches
  • Pages: 264
  • Number of photographs: More than 350


  • Contemporary Jewelry in Perspective
    • Editor: Damian Skinner
  • Part I: The Spaces of Contemporary Jewelry
    • Contributors: Monica Gaspar, Benjamin Lignel, Kevin Murray, Damian Skinner,
    • Namita Wiggers
  • Part II: The History of Contemporary Jewelry
    • Art Jewelry: An international Perspective
      • Elyse Zorn Karlin
    • North America
      • Kelly L’Ecuyer
    • Latin America
      • Valeria Siemelink
    • Europe
      • Liesbeth den Besten
    • Southern Africa
      • Sarah Rhodes
    • Asia
      • Chang Dong-kwang
    • Australasia
      • Damian Skinner
  • Part III: Contemporary Issues in Contemporary Jewelry
    • DIY Jewelry: In Theory and In Practice
      • Barbara Smith
    • The Jewel Game: Gems and Neuro-science
      • Barbara Stafford
    • The Accessorized Ape
      • Elizabeth Fischer
    • Relatively Speaking
      • Helen Carnac
    • The Contemporary in Art and Jewelry
      • Julie Ewington
    • The Political Challenge to Contemporary Jewelry
      • Kevin Murray
    • The Cultural Meanings of Jewelry
      • Marcia Pointon
    • Jewelry in the Expanded Field
      • Monica Gaspar
    • Body Modification
      • Philippe Liotard
    • Contemporary and Commercial Jewelry
      • Suzanne Ramjlak
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