The Evolution of Modern Jewelery Making

Jewellery is a universal form of personal decoration that dates back to prehistoric times. It is said t o have originally been worn for protection or as a mark of status. One of the most important developments in the history of jewellery is the evolution of metalworking practices, which became more complex to allow for more intricate designs.

Gold was (and still is) one of the most valued metals – so cherished that it was often buried with its owner after death. Find out more about the history of gold here Nowadays, jewellery tends to be worn to represent religion, symbolise love and commitment or simply for ornamental fashion purposes. This article will concentrate on ornamental jewellery.

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 Technology and use of materials

Although still popular materials, technology has allowed us toevolve past the use of just gold, silver or platinum in jewellery making. In the 1920s, new technology allowed machines to cut and polish gemstones and create sharp lines and edges, generating more complicated gemstone cuts – and in the 1930s injection-plastic moulding techniques were developed which meant glass jewellery became more affordable. In later decades, lost wax casting was introduced which made it possible to mass produce pieces of jewellery.

Contemporary technology now means that almost anymedium can be used to fabricate jewellery. This allows for more elaborate designs as creative jewellers evolve the trade to keep abreast of fashion trends. The result is eclectic fashion accessories and fascinating styles.

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Tatty Devine, for example, burst onto the mainstream accessories scene in 2012. Producing handmade acrylic jewellery, the brand started in London's Portobello and Spitalfields marketmaking jewellery from found objects like guitar plectrums. Its designs are about expressing personality in a fun way, and the items are certainly unique with the most popular piece being their personalised perspex name necklacesThere are now two permanent Tatty Devine stores in London, a concession in the Oxford Street branch of Selfridges, numerous pop-up shops and over 300 stockists worldwide. They were even recently awarded MBEs for services to the fashion industry.
 

 Photo from Liverpool Design Festival

Photo from Liverpool Design Festival

We’ll also see creative uses of materials and unusual designs in this month’s London Fashion Week, where the world’s best fashion and accessories designers come together to present new collections of work – including the weird, wacky and wonderful.

Holly Fulton, winner of the Swarovski Emerging Talent Award for Accessories at the 2009 British Fashion Awards,combines unusual matters in her jewellery. Last season, for example, her accessories used burnt black petrified wood withagate attached to jewel encrusted tops. There’s much respect for her in both the jewellery and fashion markets, so much so that even home appliance manufacturer LG is capturing her designs on a new washing machine (find out more here).

2014 and beyond

So where is the future of jewellery design headed? Well further advancements in technology mean that 3D printing is now feasible. The technology, called laser sintering, is made possible by  companies such as German-based manufacturer EOS, and is already being employed by trade supplier Cookson Precious Metals.

 

This amazing video shows how a 3D printer works

 

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The method means more personalised jewellery will soon be available on the high street as complex designs can be can be created more quickly, and can be more easily altered.

Moreover, a report from industry insiders suggests that 2014 jewellery trends will be focused on the unusual and surreal and will also take Asian and African influences. It looks like we have an exciting year ahead and we can’t wait to see what jewellery designers conjure up.