In a nut shell I'll cover what this niche of art jewelry is and what you're paying for.
Like traditional jewelry you are paying for the precious materials themselves. But unlike large stores and chains of shops there is no economy of scale with art jewelry.
The retail model takes advantage of mass production by machines and/or jewellers in large warehouses or factories. This process sometimes involves many jewellers who will do one portion of the making process only. Therefore making the whole system quicker.
Art jewellers tend to work alone in a studio, though this is not always the case. They are more likely to do all or many parts of the work themselves. And each piece is done individually.
This too can change from artist to artist and can effect price. Some people might not cast themselves or plate or even set the stones. Or they may employ a few in-house studio jewellers. Feel free to ask about the process. I don't imagine anyone would mind discussing this.
However (I wouldn't) I don't think they'd show you their proprietary process, should they have one. This is where an artist has developed their own look which may have taken years to hone and contain a few secret tricks to achieve.
I work in a studio as an independent artist. I design and make all facets of the work with no outsourcing or assistance. Though I don't do the lapidary work i.e. cut the gemstones (yet).
One key difference. Mass production is designed for commerce where art jewelry is designed for individual people.
Some art jewelry isn't even wearable really. My work largely is (some rings get pretty big but always comfortable and wearable).
Another thing that can effect the price is how well established the artist is. If they have a following, won a few awards, exhibited etc then they may be able to charge higher prices. A savvy collector will know which new or unknown artists to buy from before they gain a profile.
Ethics come into play also. Some people are unconcerned where as others will pay more for their materials, labour etc. Ensuring everyone gets a living wage in the supply chain and that safe practices are followed. I am one of the latter people. It's difficult to track but getting easier all the time.
Art jewelry generally has a story. It's creative expression and design. It does not consider the tastes of the many, it is for an individual.
Here are some terms that may be helpful when searching for the artist or genre for you ...
1. avant-garde - radically different from mainstream ideas
2. modernist - reflects the spirit of the times in which it was made
3. studio - artist studio over a craft workshop
4. new - assumes a stance towards the past
5. contemporary - present in the here and now
6. traditional - an heirloom nature to pass down the generations
When you choose art jewelry you are buying from an artist, you want a piece of that artists vision. As opposed to buying from a brand, where you want to part of that group.
The most important quality in a piece of art jewelry is the artists expression. They may choose to work on one collection at a time or their work may be more evolutionary. In each case the pieces available will be limited. There may be only one in existence. This exclusively will also effect price.
At the end of the day though art is worth what you are prepared to pay for it. Do you love it? Does it speak to you? These are the important questions.
The desired outcome for my work is to inspire self-acceptance by promoting the idea that imperfection is beautiful. I want to motive people to embrace themselves and see that their unique bumps and cracks (visible or otherwise) are part of their story and make them who they are.
The world needs each and every one of us to know and be ourselves.
If you found that interesting would you like to receive a FREE book about art jewelry?
I've had quite a bit of interest so far so I'm working on it now. To get your copy when it's done simply send me your name and email using the form below. I'll add you to the list.
Included will be a variety of artists and lots of photographs!
Until then we'll stay in touch plus I'll send you a generous discount code to use on this site. It's all good!
Nice to meet you. I really hope you choose to continue your exploration into the art jewelry world with me.