“I’ve heard of affairs
That are strictly platonic,
But diamonds are a girl’s best friend”
Words by Julen Styne from Gentlemen Prefer Blondes (1953)
The following review arrives rather late we must note, as this book’s first edition was published already back in March 2012. But as it often happens with many jewellery related publications – sooner or later falling into obscurity – we would like here to revive its importance as both a great source of design inspiration and information on the actual jewellery scene.
Showcasing an array of less known designers and brands – as opposed to the famous fashion houses featured on our latest book review – Girl’s Best Friends is “a survey of new works within the world of contemporary studio jewellery“, discipline here understood “as a certain approach to the craft, a practice that unites skilled craftsmanship with individual vision” (preface, p.3). But while the term studio jewellery came to define those aesthetic endeavours that are to remain more experimental than commercial and more exclusive than mass market, studio jewellery can be fashion or costume as well as fine jewellery, all depending on the materials used.
Being a discipline in the intersections between art, fashion and design, studio jewellery has its origins in the British Arts and Crafts movement and its focus on a return to craftsmanship, strongly reacting to the industrial revolution started in the 19th Century. One figure highly influential was René Lalique, Art Nouveau’s prominent jeweller, whose approach to the production and overall composition of the designs obeyed more his creative vision than the intrinsic value of the materials themselves – quite against the trend among his fellow jewellers at the time. Consistent with their historical background, and despite Marilyn Monroe singing “Diamonds! Diamonds! I don’t mean rhinestones!“, the majority of the pieces featured in this book originate from small to medium sized studios and are made mostly out of non precious, natural and synthetic materials.
Divided in five categories, A Girl’s Best Friends approached creatively the daunting task of grouping all the different styles of jewellery proposed, opting to come up with five “playful muses” from the arts, fashion and music world. In the first category, Liz stands for ElizabethTaylor and here we have an ongoing dialogue with the glamourous aspects of jewellery also in regard to concept, materials and preciousness. A category broad enough to include some of the multi-layered narratives of Ted Noten as his Lady K Bag Nr. 4. Audrey is Audrey Hepburn. Fashion icon par excellence, in a category by itself pretty self-explanatory: Minimal. Objects of reduced or absent embelishment are presented here with examples following from Saskia Diez and Marion Vidal, the latter strongly inspired from architectural structures. Lady G is for Lady Gaga, and here more than the extravaganza of the show, the concept plays a key role. Pia Aleborg for instance, bring us designs using materials from everyday life such as electric chords and forgotten socks. Ivy is the daughter of Gromar from the gothic series Arcania and in this section the book explores the various facets of a dark jewellery aesthetic. Enfants Perdus gothic designs pair with Aoi Kotsuhiroi’s objects that draw inspiration from the japanese bondage art Kinbaku. Category number 5 is named Cindy after Cindy Sherman. Pop colours, pastiche statements such as in Denise Julia Reytan’s necklaces or the playfulness and subverted identities of Kim Buck’s pieces.
98 jewellery artists and brands, featuring styles from glamorous to minimalistic, forms from geometric to organic, and materials from gold and silver to plastics and feathers constitute the whole of this fantastic book. A recommended reading for those who wish to be updated on the latest happening in the vibrant field of contemporary studio jewellery.
Page spreads kindly provided by Die Gestalten Verlag.
Ted Noten – Icepick Bag | Lady K Bag NR. 4.
Evert Nijland – Necklace Rococo (Out Of The Naturae Series).
Saskia Diez – Black Lace Cape.
Marion Vidal – Piccolo Balla Necklace | Bonbon Necklace | Norud Papillon Necklace | Lady Triangoli Necklace.
Pia Aleborg – ApartFrom Necklace series.
Enfants Perdus – Great Heron Skull, Heavy Fueraria and Elegat Fueraria Rings | Orchidaceae Crystal Pendant | Orchidacea Cross Necklace and Heavy White Orchidacea Curb Bracelet.
Aoi Kotsuhiroi – Floating Shadows | Day Dream | Endless | Naked Solitude Body Objects.
Denise Julia Reytan – Living Memory Necklace series.
Kim Buck – Solitaire Ring | Gold Heart Pendant | Gold Bracelet.
Die Gestalten Verlag, (Berlin, March 2012)
A Girl’s Best Friends – Creative Jewelry Design
Edited by Robert Klanten, Sven Ehmann
Text and Preface by Alisa Anh Kotmair
256 pages, full colour, Hardcover
17 x 24 cm
€29.90 | £27.50 | $48