The Art of Jewelry in America

The Art of Jewelry in America

Throughout the world, body ornamentation is an ancient and time-honored art form. Yet in the United States, jewelry as art has only recently come into its own.


Such art is not the series of gold tennis bracelets lined up in a glass case at the mall. Nor is it the design of a single artist whose staff puts it into mass production. These are handcrafted, one-of-a-kind works conceived e executed by the artist with all the technical elements and aesthetics that carry it across the line into the realm of fine art.

“The distinction between mass-produced jewelry and art jewelry is not just in the quantity but the design,” said jewelry artist Gretchen Kubacky of Los Angeles. “I’ve seen some stunningly high-quality designs in a department store that wouldn’t be considered fine art, and I’ve seen $5,000 diamond earrings that have no design quality to them. Art is in the eye of the beholder.” All kinds of jewelry such as  wholesale costume jewelry,fashion jewelry wholesale,wholesale jewelry,jewelry supply,pearl jewelry,body jewelry

Kubacky identifies her own work as “ethnicized contemporary” jewelry drawn from historical images, as well as craft and folk art. She uses sterling silver, high-quality stones and pearls, but she likes to mix them up, putting hand-made stones from India with cultured pearls–the fine and the not-so-fine–to create a more hand-made appearance.

“Jewelry-as-art depends on function and intimacy,” wrote Carolyn Morris Bach, who exhibits her bone-and-precious metal jewelry at high-end expositions and in select fine art galleries across the country. “Every piece of jewelry that leaves the studio is entirely hand-fabricated by me. While I strive for perfection in my design and craftsmanship, I am not overly concerned that every form requires perfectly rounded edges or that every element be an exact replication of its counterpart. If this is art, it should be individual and unique and preserve for the viewer deliberate traces of the decisions for fabrication; the passage of the hands through materials.”


Herein lies the realm of distinction between commercial jewelry and jewelry as fine art. Part of the departure lies in the purpose or intention behind the piece, whether it was made to be sold in quantity at a profit and ultimately worn, or if it was created for the sake of art–art that was hand crafted, using unconventional materials or traditional materials in unconventional ways. The closer the artist remains to the creative process, the closer the jewelry is to fine art.