The term “modern jewelry” defines trendy yet timeless pieces of fine jewelry that can also extend to functional objects inspired by the new market in gadget accessories such as smartphone cases, functional pendants, chains and cord wrappers that could be described as jewelry.
The emergence of fashion into the fine jewelry market has been a particularly difficult balance for established as well as emerging jewelry designers to strike in order to target the younger, wealthy consumers. It has been ages since jewelry collections were created that focused on items that would become family heirlooms. Even in the fine jewelry realm ear crawlers, palm cuffs and septum rings are touted as must-haves challenging designers to constantly create jewelry that can be considered modern enough to feel new, but still valuable and timeless.
The History of Jewelry
Jewelry making as an art form emerged in ancient times dating back to the Stone Age. As an art form ancient jewelry emerged throughout all cultures representing symbolism, art and protection. Until the modern age, jewelry was made out of gemstones and other valuable materials. After the Second World War new processes were invented such as harvesting pearls on a large industrial scale; or using new metal processes that marked the era of today’s jewelry. One such process is the cutting of crystal glass which replaced the use of precious gemstones by companies such as Swarovski. Electronic devices inspired the creation of all types of accessories in colors and forms that increasingly became a personal form of expression. Oxidization processes, visible flaws and seemingly rough edges all fall into the modern industrial category of jewelry making.
Art and Concept Jewelry
The use of jewelry has also changed dramatically – consumers are seeking pieces that are fashionable in keeping with current trends, yet also fully fashioned from precious gems and metals. Pearls for example are not fashioned like the traditional necklace inherited from a grandmother and only worn on special occasions, but something that is starting to be seen on holidays, done with industrial finishes and popping up as trendy ear cuffs.
Whilst newer designers have been quick to experiment and introduce creative types of inventive jewelry each season, renowned jewelers such as Cartier are more cautious introducing pieces that still feel classic enough to include in the jewelry drawers of the clientele they have services for multiple generations. Examples in the latest Paris Nouvelle Vogue collection by Cartier are bolder with oversized lattice cuffs and multi-stranded tasseled and beaded gold necklaces that are wound around the neck. These pieces exude delicate youthfulness with pops of colorful enamel and a light sprinkling of fine gems which is far from stale.
Modern fashion jewelry patently defined by the fashion industry where accessories are used to complete specific styles and outfits. Modern jewelers have also been focusing on men’s jewelry in an attempt to acquire the modern male as a new customer segment in the jewelry market. Fashion jewelry for men includes quality watches, bracelets, neck chains, wrist bands, ear cuffs, rings and pendants.
A side form of jewelry that is worth mentioning is body modification which reaches back to the beautification of the body by African tribes. Well known forms include tattoos, surface piercing, nose and ear piercing and even under-skin implants. Modern designers have taken advantage of these cult-like trends by creating interesting and eye catching designs to satisfy this segment of the modern jewelry market.