Original jewelry or mass production?


For a small business to grow, you need to find new markets to sell your jewelry. As a result, we travel to shows everywhere to showcase and personally hand stamp letter impressions onto sterling silver. On the spot, we create unique personal pieces and charm combinations on bracelets and necklaces. At these shows, Suetables often has lineups. Customers love that they can get one-of-a-kind charm combinations of words and names to reflect their life and/or loved ones.

To get into these shows, there is sometimes discussion about what is art and what is mass production in jewelry. Some say that it is not art unless the jewelry designer makes each piece alone from beginning to end. If someone else makes any aspect of the piece some say that is mass production. The result of this for Suetables is that we don’t always get into every show.

I am a big proponent of giving artistic direction to those who are more skilled than I am. I design each piece of jewelry. But the pendants and charms that we (me and 20 reps) assemble and stamp to spec for customers are made by expert silversmiths in Taxco, Mexico – world renown for quality sterling silver.

Whether or not I mould each piece myself should have no bearing on the artistry of the piece. How many pieces produced from the exact same mould does influence its uniqueness to some degree but that should not be mistaken with artistry.

Art in any form, including jewelry design, is entirely about the creative process. If each piece is unique and original, then why is it not art? I often see at jewelry designers and artists at shows that Suetables does not get into. They make stunning combinations with beads. Do they create, mould and and cut each bead? No, these beads are garnered from various corners of the world and the jewelry designer works them into striking combinations…just like Suetables.

Does that make the artists’ piece, mass produced? Does that take away from the craft or artistry? I would argue that it does not.

As all forms of art are increasingly made and created with the help of others – including various digital mediums from “other people” –  I think we need to open our mind to the wide variety of what makes up artistry.