Some notable artists have a penchant for jewelry making in addition to their pursuit of masterpiece paintings and sculptures. Here's a glimpse at just two modern artists who also created fascinating jewelry.
Alexander Calder (1898-1976) was an American sculptor remembered for his introduction of mobile sculptures—sculptures that moved in response to touch or air currents. Calder’s work is generally categorized as surrealist or abstract. He also created wire figures and monumental sculptures, painted aircrafts and cars, and crafted jewelry!
Over the course of his career, Calder created over 2,000 pieces of jewelry. Many were gifts to his loved ones. Using brass, steel, ceramic, wood, and glass, Calder took inspiration from Africa, among other foreign locales, to create original and beautiful pieces.
Peggy Guggenheim, famous heiress and art collector, was one of the notable wearers of Calder’s jewelry. At the 1942 opening of her New York Gallery (The Art of This Century), she wore one earring by Calder and another by Yves Tanguy to symbolize her allegiance to both surreal and abstract art.
Alexander Calder Bracelet, circa 1930. Brass, silver, and still wire.
Georgia O'Keeffe, Teeny Duchamp (wife of Marcel Duchamp) Jeanne Rucar (wife of the filmmaker Luis Buñuel), and Bella Rosenfeld (wife of painter Marc Chagall) are other figures who enjoyed the gift of Calder’s jewelry.
Alexander Calder Earrings, circa 1940. Silver wire.
Fun fact: Calder first dabbled in jewelry at the age of eight. With copper wire he found in the street, he created jewelry for his sister’s dolls.
Pablo Picasso (1881-1973) is undoubtedly a household name, and most of us know him for his cubist and surrealist paintings. But like Calder, Picasso was multi-talented and interested in a variety of media.
In the 1950s and 60s, Pablo collaborated with Jeweler François Hugo to create pieces in high-karat gold.
Le Grand Faune brooch of 23k gold, 20/20 edition François Hugo after Pablo Picasso, 1973.
Perhaps more interesting than Picasso's collaboration with Hugo is the recently-discovered, one-of-kind jewelry he made in the 1930s and 40s. In 1998, it was discovered that Picasso decorated a collection of brooches, rings, and amulets for his lover Dora Maar (their relationship lasted from 1936-1945).
The pieces were found in Maar’s apartment following her death and were later auctioned to bidders from across the globe. Jewelry expert Marc Blondeau recounts the discovery of the jewelry: “The jewelry was all over the place, under beds, in old shoeboxes. She kept it very zealously as a memento to Picasso.” This amazing find was news to even experts in modernist jewelry.
Ink and color pencil drawing by Picasso set in frame-shaped pendant for Dora Maar, circa 1936-1939.
Stone amulets by Picasso for Dora Maar, circa 1936-1939.
Fun fact: A zest for jewelry appears to run in the Picasso family. Paloma Picasso, Pablo’s daughter, has designed jewelry for Tiffany’s.
The fact that world-renowned modern artists have dabbled in jewelry just goes to show that jewelry, more than serve as mere trinkets, can truly be wearable art. What do you think?
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Photos: Wikimedia Commons, aleCalder Foundation, Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation, The Jewelry Loupe
Are you a fan of treasure but not keen on going hunting for it yourself? Do you love ancient coins but don’t believe they should be hidden away only to be viewed once in a blue moon? Jewelry made from ancient coins presents a way to indulge your love for history, treasure, and the exotic—and the best part is that you can select pieces from several independent vendors who do the jewelry making for you. The following are just a few online retailers specializing in ancient coin jewelry.
Lost Galleon El Cazador Shipwreck
For over 20 years, Lost Galleon has specialized in rare, high-grade pieces from Ancient Greece and the Roman Empire. Authentic coins are custom framed and crafted into a variety of pieces—from money clips to rings to necklaces. You can also shop by country of origin or shipwrecks (like Spanish shipwrecks). The cool thing about Lost Galleon is that the company actually dives for the coins themselves!
Ancient Creations Portrait of Christ Pendant (Byzantine)
Ancient Creations sources rare coins from auction houses like Sotheby’s and Christies, but all custom designs and mounting are done in-house. Ancient Creations’ jewelry features coins from ancient Greek, Roman, Spanish, Portuguese, Persian, European/Medieval, Asian, and Byzantine collections. The site also provides a detailed historical account of the development and usage of coins across ancient nation-states. History buffs, don’t miss Ancient Creations’ glossary of terms!
Erez Ancient Coin Jewelry Silver Drachma Bracelet (Greek)
Erez Ancient Coin Jewelry sources coins for jewelry mostly from Israel and the Middle East. Each product description includes brief historical context for the coin featured in the jewelry piece. If you have your own coin that you’d like set in a piece of jewelry, Erez welcomes custom orders. All pieces and designs are handmade in the United States.
Ferbers Unique Fine Jewelry “A Perfect Sixpence” (England, 1916)
Among Ferbers’ collection of luxury pieces, the vendor features jewelry made from ancient and vintage coins. The family-owned jewelry store is a member of Jewelers of America and has the highest rating for creditworthiness granted to any jewelry store in its trade area by the Jeweler’s Board of Trade. In addition to ancient coin jewelry, they also create pieces with ancient Roman glass and pieces of meteorite.
Ancient Resource Ephesus Bezel
Specializing in ancient artifacts from Greece, Rome, and Egypt, Ancient Resource works with museums, universities, institutions, auction houses, galleries, and collectors in 40 different countries across the globe to procure its impressive collection of ancient goods—including jewelry featuring ancient coins. Each piece is all authenticated and legally acquired.
Photos: Lost Galleon, Ancient Creations, Erez Ancient Coin Jewelry, Ferbers Unique Fine Jewelry, Ancient Resource
What’s your favorite way to spend a Saturday morning? Perhaps you love getting up with the sun to go for a hike--or maybe sleeping in and waking up just in time for a lazy brunch sounds like the perfect Saturday. For some of us, curling up with a mug of coffee and catching up on inspiring blogs equals weekend bliss.
No style-lover’s blog feed would be complete without a few drool-worthy jewelry blogs. Here are three we’re loving. Peruse these whenever you need a little eye candy or want to fuel your artistic inspiration. (Just be warned--your wish list is about to grow very long!)
If you cherish innovative designs and nonconventional baubles, head over to The Carrotbox. Ring-lover Alice Matsumoto finds unique, modern rings from jewelers all over the world. From fanciful to high-concept, The Carrotbox has something for everyone’s Pinterest board.