Utpal Borpujari

April 27, 2009

Research Jewellery : Art is the name of the game

By Utpal Borpujari


Designing jewellery is an art form, but there is a fine line that separates “designing” jewellery and pure “artistry” in jewellery making. That is the apparent premise which led to the concept of “research” or “art” or “author” jewellery, creations that sometimes are far removed from the traditional concept of jewellery and lie more in the realm of pure art, though done using some very expensive metals and jewels. But the uniqueness of Research or Art Jewellery lies in the fact that the traditional idea of preciousness when one talks of jewellery is something that is pushed to be the background – what is more important is vision that the artist has.


Now, for the first time ever, the Research Jewellery concept has been brought to India, exposing the country to this form of fine art that no doubt involves expensive raw material but is made priceless by the artistic vision involving the creations more than anything else. On display at the Italian Embassy Cultural Centre in New Delhi, the 2009 edition of the show “Lucca Preziosa”, titled “Cutting the Mirror” is the result of the collaboration between Lucca (Florence, Italy)-based Le Arti Orafe, a pioneering institute in the field of Research Jewellery, and Bangalore-based jewellery house Ganjam Nagappa & Son. The very fact that the show has chosen India as its first venture outside Europe – its earlier editions since its inception in 2005 were held in Lucca and Barcelona (Spain), apart from a selective presentation in Munich (Germany) – is a pointer to the importance practitioners of this art form are attaching to India, where jewellery designing since ages have been more of an art form, with many exquisite traditional forms traditionally being practised in different parts of the country.


Those practising Artistic or Research Jewellery deny the traditional idea of preciousness. As Gio Carbone, Le Arte Orafe director and founder of Lucca Preziosa puts it, “The choice of materials does not have any limitations but is subordinate only to the creative intention of the artist. We are no longer dealing with simple accessories complementing clothing, but recognizable signs of a definite personality and of its creative universe, when we are dealing with Research Jewellery.” Those behind the concept say that “Neuer Schmuc”, as the Germans call it, or “New Jewellery”, as English critics have termed it, is an expression of a “Weltanschaung” (an outlook on life), as a painting, a sculpture or architecture can be, but differs from these in that “it must be worn, and, therefore, establish much more intimate contact with the person who chooses it and identifies with the poetry they are wearing”. The exhibition, which premiered at the Inhorgenta Fair, Munich in February, and will culminate in Lucca, in May, has on display creations by artists like Graziano Visintin, Robert Baines, Georg W. Dobler, Annelies Planteijdt, Karl Fritsch,Svenja John, David Bielander, Lisa Walker, Sally Marsland, and Sebastian Buescher.


The show’s curator, Maria Cristina Bergesio, explains, “

Research jewellery is an aspect that belongs to contemporary art. The artist explores new possibilities through jewellery, as others would use in painting, photography, ceramic, etc. We are dealing with jewels that are realised through an artistic process using forms, materials and messages that come out of research done by the individual artist. Of course these are jewels that can be worn, but they appeal to a different sensibility in relation to traditional or couture jewellery. Jewellery is a real wide field, connected with a many aspects – economy, society, culture, fashion, beauty, tradition and art.  In Research Jewellery, the main focus is the personal expression of the artist through the jewel.


The main centres of Research Jewellery practice in Europe have been connected with various schools – the Fachhochschule für Gestaltung in Pforzheim; the Akademie der Bildenden Künste in Munich; the St Martins School of Art, the Central School of Arts and Crafts and the Royal College of Art in London; the Academie Gerrit Rietveld in Amsterdam; the Escola Massana in Barcelona; the Istituto Pietro Selvatico in Padova and Le Arti Orafe in Firenze. Outside Europe, the key institutes are Hiko Mizuno College in Tokyo; Bezalel Academy, Jerusalem; and of course Le Arti Orafe in Firenze.


According to Carbone, it is very difficult to quantify the size of the market for Research Jewellery or what percentage it occupies in the overall jewellery market. “It is very difficult to say this. The global jewellery market is very large. In comparison research jewellery has a very limited market, most of what is made by private collectors and public museum. This is essentially a form of art and not measured by its commercial consequence. Of course, we have to recognise that in contemporary art translates to a big business as well in the art world, but not comparable with the market of commercial jewellery products. Art in general is not directly related with the volume of business, but with the innovation that it expresses,” he explains.


Carbone is excited about bringing the exhibition to India, though he admits that his acquaintance with the contemporary art movement of India is “very basic”. “Contemporary jewellery could offer a big contribution to the art movement. Because of the importance of traditional jewellery in India, to explore and experiment in the field of jewellery, to find new ways of creation, to use un-conventional materials, could offer to the traditional jewellery new vitality and impulse. This is one of the motives of the art: to generate innovation through provocation. If we look at some creation of jewellery artists from the 1960s and 1970s, at that time considered as ‘revolutionaries’, we retrieve shapes, materials and technical solutions that are now used in commercial jewellery,” he says.


Quite naturally, Research Jewellery is very expensive, but Carbone says the outlook about it has to be artistic. “We must to leave aside the cost of material as in traditional jewellery, such as gold, platinum, stones that justify the high prices. In Research Jewellery this aspect is totally secondary. The prices may seem high, but we are buying not precious material but design. What we pay is ‘immaterial’, it is conceptual. To use an example, when we buy a painting, we do not pay for the value of the material, that in general is not significant: we pay the name of the artist, the beauty of the subject, the suggestions that the painting offers to us,” he says.



Carbone’s institute has not had any contact till now with contemporary jewellery artists from India, except its association with Ganjam, which was also a partner for the 2006 edition, where it had presented a range of traditional Indian jewellery from its “Body Decoration” collection. “We had few contact with designers, but designers and artists are completely opposite figures,” he says, adding, “I hope in the near future to have the opportunity to meet jewellery artists in India and maybe invite them to take part to international events.”


Carbone hopes that after the first-every foray, there will be more such exhibitions in India – “hopefully one a year, showing many different aspect of this art. In my opinion art galleries, jewellery companies, trade fairs, museum and public institution are the natural location for these kind of art. Also the organisation of an international symposium is one of our future objectives,” he says. In fact, he says the main aim of the exhibition is not building any clientele but creating awareness about the concept as an aspect of contemporary art movement and encourage some reflection on jewellery in general.

(Published in Deccan Herald, www.deccanherald.com, www.deccanheraldepaper.com, 19-04-2009)





  1. […] Original post by utpalb21 […]

    Pingback by Research Jewellery : Art is the name of the game — April 27, 2009 @ 3:54 pm | Reply

  2. […] Continued here: Research Jewellery : Art is the name of the game « Utpal Borpujari […]

    Pingback by Research Jewellery : Art is the name of the game « Utpal Borpujari | Art Institutes International | The Art Institute — April 27, 2009 @ 6:01 pm | Reply

  3. […] utpalb21 put an intriguing blog post on Research Jewellery : Art is the name of the game « Utpal BorpujariHere’s a quick excerptNow, for the first time ever, the Research Jewellery concept has been brought to India, exposing the country to this form of fine art that no doubt involves expensive raw material but is made priceless by the artistic vision involving … […]

    Pingback by Topics about Indian-art | Research Jewellery : Art is the name of the game « Utpal Borpujari — May 1, 2009 @ 11:46 am | Reply

    • Dear Utpal,

      I head the Ganjam PR account and just wanted to let you know that the article was greatly liked by Ganjam as well as Le Arti Orafe. They appretiated the fine understanding of the subject and well as its treatment.



      Comment by Lakshmi Datta Arun — May 27, 2009 @ 2:42 pm | Reply

  4. Mr.Borpujari
    I’m writing you from Argentina. I manage de site “Joyeros Argentinos”, a site dedicated to contemporary jewellery in Argentina. I found your article very interesting, and we translated it to spanish. We published the spanish version in our website, with the corresponding credits. I hope it’s ok for you.
    Best regards
    Laura Giusti

    Comment by lauragiusti — June 25, 2009 @ 12:02 am | Reply

    • Dear Laura Giusti,

      Thanks a lot of the gesture.

      Utpal Borpujari

      Comment by utpalb21 — June 30, 2009 @ 2:42 pm | Reply

RSS feed for comments on this post. TrackBack URI

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

Blog at WordPress.com.

%d bloggers like this: