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One of the biggest art jewelry pop-ups in the world, MAD About Jewelry is back at the Museum of Art and Design in New York, showcasing jewels by 50 artists from 20 countries in the 23rd annual benefit and sale. Collectors who visit the Museum this week, April 25-29, will be able to meet the artists and see the innovative work in person.
“This year’s show represents a truly global perspective on jewelry artistry,” says Bryna Pomp, director of MAD About Jewelry. “MAD About Jewelry is the only opportunity in America for the public to see and purchase this breadth and level of contemporary jewelry, and to actually meet the makers of the work.” This year’s edition looks to be especially innovative, featuring work made from interesting new materials ranging from eggshell (Miki Asai, Japan) to niobium (Marina Sheetikoff, Brazil), a rare metal. “It’s always about the unusual, the unexpected, the never-before-seen,” says Pomp.
Sustainability is a focus for several artists, including Yumi Kato from Japan, who works with recycled kimonos, and Deirdre Maine from France, who melts down wine bottles to create freeform, undulating jewels. For others, the zeitgeist is all about gender fluidity, with Yoojung Kim (South Korea), and Akvile Su (Scotland) to name just two of the designers creating jewelry designed to be worn by all. New this year, are a bespoke gemstones sandal experience, by Italian designer Emanuela Caruso, who works with traditional materials, and the launch of a mentorship program to support artists’ career development.
At the opening night benefit on Tuesday, the MAD About Jewelry 2023 award recipients were honored for their ‘career long histories of championing extraordinary artistry in jewelry’: jewelry and accessories designer Alexis Bittar; Senior Vice President of Fashion and Store Presentation at Bergdorf Goodman, Londa Fargo, and Sam Broekema, editor-in-chief of Only Natural Diamonds, the digital-first editorial platform from the Natural Diamonds Council.
Pomp shares the highlights of a unique show, of impressive breadth.
What were you looking for when you made your selection for the show?
I have five essential criteria that I must see in the work of each jewelry artist I select: originality; excellence in design; meticulous craftsmanship; a mastery of the materials being utilized, and wearability.
What would you say characterizes the work of the featured designers?
Each of these fifty makers has absolutely excelled in creating a very focused, distinctive body of work that is completely identifiable as their signature work.
Which is the most unusual piece in the exhibition?
It’s impossible to identify one particular, single piece that is “unusual” because the individual, “unusual” personality of the work of every one of these 50 artists captured my attention and admiration.
Do you have any particular personal favorites?
No, I absolutely love and admire the work of each and every one of the 50 2023 makers.
Are you noticing any trends in terms of materials?
I do not usually think in terms of trends in contemporary jewelry because it is such an individual aesthetic and form of art.
Complementing the portion of jewelry in metals such as gold, silver, brass, aluminum, titanium, and niobium are collections in many alternative materials including leather, glass, wood, 3D printed nylon, porcelain, textiles, recycled and repurposed materials.
How do you see the future for sustainable jewelry design?
I see sustainability as an important consideration among contemporary jewelry makers. It appears to me that most of the artists who show their work at MAD About Jewelry are very committed to using recycled precious metals in their work. Additionally, within the breadth of work at this year’s show, are numerous examples of responsibly repurposing many different materials, mostly natural ones. The maker not using natural materials is successfully keeping many single-use plastic bags out of landfills and oceans.
Some of the makers repurposing and recycling materials include:
Miki Asai: Eggshells
Sara Barbanti; Steven KP: Maija Vitola-Zitmane: Salvaged, Recycled Wood
Deborah Beck: recycled plastic bags
Ann Cox: Recycled glass
Jiska Hartog & Michiel Henneman: Repurposed, recycled walnut shells
Yumi Kato: Recycled Japanese silk kimonos
Deirdre Maine: Recycled French Burgundy wine bottles
Diego Saraiva: Recycled, repurposed paper currency and postage stamps
Zoe Sherwood: Recycled fishing nets
Naoko Yoshizawa: Handmade paper
MAD About Jewelry is on at the Museum of Art and Design in New York , April 25-29. More information at org.