Munich Jewellery Week is one of the longest running jewelry events in the world, and it’s part of a pack of events that comprise the ultimate annual showcase for contemporary jewelry. I was lucky enough to attend the 2023 edition in the German metropolis last month with my friend and New York City Jewelry Week co-founder, Bella Neyman.
The artist-run event features independent exhibitions of contemporary jewelry from artists around the globe, who fill empty storefronts, galleries (and often even non-jewelry businesses) with their jewelry for one solid week every March in Munich. The event runs parallel to the Schmuck fair, which is a more official-feeling—and much more competitive—contemporary jewelry showcase where jewelry galleries present their offerings (Schmuck also features a showcase called Talente, which celebrates young talent in the field through a curated exhibition).
All these events strictly feature contemporary jewelry and, collectively, are the most anticipated event of the year for the field. Which means, for someone like me, it’s the place to see what’s new and next and share those trends with you! So here goes.
Pearls aren’t just for fine jewelry—they’re also a popular contemporary jewelry material. Young jewelry artist Hansel Tai buys pearls for his new “pierced” pearl pieces online (while they are still in the shell growing!), allowing him to select the perfect shapes, sizes, and colors for each unique piece (see necklace above). Jewelers Danni Schwaag and Lin Cheung both use mother of pearl in ways that capture the material’s precious qualities in modern forms. Lin’s MOP watch (see below) allows jewelry lovers to become “watch” fans and Danni’s carved rings (also below) are officially cult favorites.
Textile jewelry was seen throughout Munich’s many exhibitions, and that was no surprise—there’s a global trend going for textile jewelry that speaks to the concept of comfort, which seemingly everyone is seeking right now. Two artists who perfectly captured textiles’ “comfort” qualities are Jana Brevick, an American transplant studying in Europe, who brought an array of one-of-a-kind “bibs” that transport us back to childhood playtimes (see above); and Helen Clara Hemsley, whose pieces are made from her childhood sheets (also above); Tinsel Gallery‘s show, of his Hemsley was a part of, was aptly named There’s no place like home.
We’re seeing crosses everywhere in jewelry: in Rihanna’s pregnancy pics, Kim Kardashian’s purchase of Princess Diana’s famous cross pendant, etc. So of course, we’re finding them in contemporary jewelry, too. My favorite version in Munich was by Alexandra Bahlmann, known for the intricately beaded jewelry. Her takes on the trend (see them above and at the top of this article) are equally wearable and beautiful.
One of jewelry’s biggest trends, faces, continues in contemporary jewelry via unique materials. Artist Yotam Bahat created oversized happy and sad face pendant necklaces from industrial discs (see above). Danni Schwaag used her signature mother of pearl to create wearable pendants with faces that reflect all the current feels. And Julia Walters worked infused a mix of materials and shapes that speak to the universality of faces (see below).
Until next year, Munich!
Top photo: Trying on an Alexandra Bahlmann cross necklace. All photos by JB Jones or supplied by brands.