Is Jewellery Art?

FOR many, jewellery is a decorative adornment that sits firmly under the accessories mantle, for others it is categorically a work of art. Last night, luxury Italian jeweller Bulgari, attempted to answer the question ‘Is jewellery art?’ with the help from esteemed jewellery historian and curator of Bulgari’s archive collection, Amanda Triossi, and Vogue’s jewellery editor, Carol Woolton, at the V&A Museum in London.


Starting off by reminding the audience that the great artists of the 15th and 16th centuries all trained in fine jewellery, Triossi compared the importance of jewellery to that of a revered oil painting. Although, she explained, that over time this training requirement ceased to exist, she argued it shouldn’t diminish how jewellery is thought of.


Woolton concurred that educating people to the intricate world of stones and gems was key to how jewellery is perceived, urging the audience to look past “the diamond ring” and see the wealth of alternative jewels currently being created: “There’s a potent significance with something that has come from the earth,” she explained. “There’s so many possibilities – jewels can be a mosaic, a cameo… and the appeal doesn’t fade,” Triossi agreed.


The duo looked to Bulgari itself to provide examples, showing how a gold chain necklace that was crafted in 1974 using coins from the 4th century BC was not only a work of art, but in fact acted as a precursor to the Postmodernist movement.


So, what did they agree defines jewellery as art? “It’s a mixture of things,” Triossi explained. “Quality of design, composition, cut, fine gem stones, amazing workmanship – all these ingredients together make something exceptional – it’s this that defines a work of art. But only time will tell – not every painting is a Rembrandt after all.”


“Jewellery needs to take a page out of the art world’s book,” Woolton added. “The jewellery world is hidden and rarefied, it needs to be open so people can see and be drawn in and appreciate the stories behind the pieces themselves.”


When better to start than now? See a selection of Bulgari’s most dazzling pieces, in its signature multi-hued colour palette here.

Scarlett Kilcooley-O’Halloran

Photo – Vogue Magazine

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