The more widely affordable and accessible jewelry making tools, materials and knowledge became, the more we viewed jewelry as a form of artistic expression. The components of jewelry, gemstones and precious metals, are perceived as elements of artistic expression as well, more so than they are perceived as symbols of social status or wealth.
Today, manufacturing and the advances of technology, more specifically the availability of affordable, synthetic materials, have changed our appreciation for beauty. In a word, artistic expression itself confers beauty, even if some components are fake, proving that beauty truly is in the eye of the beholder.
For “old school” artisans, however, using real materials remains an integral part of fabrication. However, the availability of materials, whether real or synthetic, has increased focus on design and creativity. Likewise, as focus on social status diminishes, so do cultural influences and variety of styles increase.
Lastly, since the early 1900’s, seasons influence style as much, if not more in some cases, as materials and individual artistic whims. Assume this is a historical cycle, styles and practices may revert back to some form of previous expressions or focus over time. It is interesting to note that while technology has changed how we make and use jewelry, in many ways we still use ornamentation in similar ways as in ancient times. We simply adapt to new circumstances. For example, we decorate our cell phones with small gems. In the past, we had done the same thing with shields and other meaningful objects. In a sense, these are the same, for the cell phone and the shield are both related to our interactions with others.
To be continued…