Our most recent project for jewellery was setting; to make a piece in metal which incorporates settings of other materials. This did not just involve the skills we had learnt in the workshop, our design was to be inspired by religious/ spiritual symbolism, which gave us a chance to create something with a deeper meaning, have a story attached to our designs which we might not normal choose to do. I found this brief particularly interesting because it makes you question superstition; why is luck attached to jewellery? How would you recognise a religious piece of jewellery? Why does a stone make something spiritual, protected, it made me question jewellery being associated with memories and the history of stones.
If I were to do this assignment again I would do some secondary research on spiritual symbols and religion. The main source for my research when doing this project was a book called’ Secrets of Aromatic Jewellery’ by Annette Green and Linda Dyett; Flammarion, illustrated edition (15 February 1999). A fantastic source of the history of religious and spiritual meanings of jewellery, also containing many detailed images of perfume bottles, pomanders and containers. This is a design I have become gradually more interested in as I love compartments, the ability to make something which will contain, hold or hide something precious. “Together, scent and container were considered a protection against violations of the spirit, the soul, the psyche.” (pg5) To take my research further I would use library journals and look further into jewellery used as religious objects, such as pomanders and rosary beads. Thinking about the personal identity created by both the scent and container at the same time. I would also mind map my thoughts and ideas for my design, which I did do in my sketchbook but would then brainstorm these ideas to enhance them. Amulets and pomanders were used to protect, to cleanse etc; do they have any other functions? The internet is especially useful to look up meanings and uses of precious and semi-precious stones which I would look further into.
To enhance my research further, asking the public to analyse images and interviewing would be my main body of primary research. I would ask males and females of all ages, to gather the most information and opinions I possibly can, and divide the findings by age, sex and occupation accordingly. Perhaps starting off in a shopping centre where people are likely to walk past a Jewellers that day and have maybe had a look at or bought an item that day. My thought is that most of the general public have at least a couple of items of jewellery they are attached to which have significance to them. I would not make the questions too invasive and keep them quite open to interpretation; as I am looking for how closely people are attached to their jewellery and how much they realise that symbolism plays a big part in this and for them to tell me themselves how much they know.
If I asked “Do you have any religious jewellery?” I think that people may be reluctant to answer. A better question may be “What was the last piece of significant jewellery you were given?” Hopefully if it related to symbolic connotations I could ask further questions. If asked “Do you own any jewellery that contains precious stones?” I could then ask if they knew what kind of stone it is, do they know what meaning there is attached to it if any? For creating a piece of contemporary jewellery with stone settings the results could be useful, I would perhaps find out a currently popular stone, why that is, for example is turquoise a trend in stone set jewellery at the moment because it is set to bring good fortune? Or is it because of the colour? Perhaps where it is from?
“Would you recognise a religious piece of jewellery?” Even getting a description would be useful of the kinds of images people would think of associated with that. Asking “Do you believe there is luck attached to jewellery?” Could give me varied answers but possibly some negative ones, or a short ‘no’. So I would perhaps say: “Is there a particular piece of jewellery you tend to wear all the time or frequently?
This would tell me whether it was because the piece was a gift from somebody important in their lives, to mark a special occasion, or if they wear it because it brings them luck, kind of like a modern-day talisman.
The other technique I would use to gain further information is to present to people images of jewellery, symbols, religious and spiritual. By analysing a photo of for example a pomander, which is a scent container used to cleanse sacred areas and for church ceremonies, I could find out whether people know of them, their function, the history, do they like the aesthetics of them? Also providing images of different varieties of religious and spiritual jewellery such as talisman, amulets, rings, necklaces, scent bottles, then ask people what they like about them in terms of materials, texture, colour, decoration would give me further informative ideas of how to create my design accordingly.
Now that I have done this project and have reconsidered how I would approach it using these different techniques I can see how much it could benefit my designs. Mind mapping and interviewing seems to me to make the design process more logical than just doing research, developing some ideas I like and think could work then creating a final piece. Now it feels more like I’m designing in the real world as a jeweller. I do forget that I am a design student and must pass to get to the next level of study but ultimately; my aim is to design for the people, by their information but through my research and thought process with my skills. I could apply these techniques to so many aspects of my life; I aim to carry on this process in third year to make more sense of how I’m going to carry out my work, and to carry on questioning. I will definitely be putting people, adverts, and global issues under more observation than I realise from now on, hopefully I will learn to use these observations for future designs and further thinking. Primary research is not only a key element to design but very enjoyable, by going out and asking the public questions I am interacting with potential clients, not just the ‘general public’. It has made me realise that talking to people to create contemporary designs is crucial as well as your own ideas.
Dyett.L, Green.A, (1999) ‘Secrets of Aromatic Jewellery’ Flammarion, Illustrated version.