The Museum of Arts and Design’s upcoming 23rd annual MAD About Jewelry show in New York City is poised to feature 50 creators of artist-made jewelry hailing from 20 different countries.
The annual five-day exhibition, which always draws a design-savvy crowd, is also introducing a few news elements to this year’s line-up, including a new mentorship program that aims to support emerging jewelry designers. MAD About Jewelry 2022 participating jewelry designer Lorraine West will serve as Artist Liaison for the program this year. This year’s opening benefit on April 25 will also honor jewelry designer Alexis Bittar, Bergdorf Goodman’s Linda Fargo, and Only Natural Diamonds editor-in-chief Sam Broekema.
A signature of this event is a focus on the use of non-traditional materials in jewelry making. Core materials like gold, silver, platinum, and semi-precious stones are combined with pleated paper, Corian, leather, niobium, eggshells, seashells, nylon, and upcycled materials such as slices of vintage kimonos and wine bottles, in many cases, rendered via 3D printing.
Selecting 50 jewelry artists is not a task Bryna Pomp, director of MAD About Jewelry, takes lightly. “I look at portfolios 365 days a year, looking at several thousand [each year]. The final mix includes emerging artists alongside seasoned jewelers who favor unusual, oft-recycled and -repurposed, materials,” Pomp told The Zing Report, adding, “I want there to be something that will interest everyone, from a very seasoned collector to someone who may not know or ever see this kind of jewelry.”
This often means a new line-up yearly. Only two of the 2023 show exhibitors have presented in earlier shows, and a handful participated in the 2020 virtual platform that took place in lieu of a live show during the pandemic. The line-up tends to be an international assortment—the exception being 2021, when travel prohibited many foreign artists from participating. Those selected hit benchmarks such as originality, impeccable design, meticulous craftsmanship, mastery of materials used, and wearability.
“It’s a critical part of the excitement and allure of MAD About Jewelry to show new, previously unseen jewelry makers each year,” Pomp added.
Among the many outstanding jewelers featured, here are a few standouts we especially love.
Based in Glasgow, Russian-born Evgeniia, a.k.a. Eve Balashova, juxtaposes ancient metalworking techniques with state-of-the-art 3D-printed custom-dyed nylon. The featherlight material allows her to create large-scale items easily worn and unencumbered by dense metal or resin. The 2016 Glasgow School of Art graduate draws inspiration from repetitive geometry and nature motifs for her futuristic designs. A pink-to-purple ombre—achieved by hand-mixing dye shades—circular brooch resembling an undulating grate; and a wavy Cable necklace with a similar pattern and open-ended Brushstroke filament hoop earring in multiple shades comprise some of the jeweler’s most eye-catching designs.
After studying at Vienna’s Kunst Mode Design College and receiving a B.A. in Applied Art & Design from the Düsseldorf University of Applied Science, Konstanze Prechtl began exhibiting in group design shows across Europe in 2014 and had her first solo show in 2019. Her unique technique involves applying a highly developed sense of color. In a statement, the Vienna-based artist describes it this way: “Like music or smells, color triggers memories. Certain colors are often connected to a person or experience. I collect colors and color combinations like other people collect stones, flowers, or little objects.” She works primarily in wood and textiles, employing painting, printing, and dyeing techniques to express hue. A prominent fan shape is converted into playful earrings and statement necklaces in a bevy of vibrant shade combinations.
Brazilian Diego Saravia utilizes the upcycling ideology in his highly inventive pieces. The São Paulo jeweler who previously participated in the Brazil Jewelry Week exhibition gathers found objects along his many travels as an obsessive voyager. The things he’s collected globally include coins, cutlery, stamps, banknotes, watches, lenses, glasses, and other ancient rarities. He combines these with traditional gemstones and metals for unique pieces that honor and preserve their history for the next generations while giving them a new purpose as jewelry to wear.
Broken glass is a sight to behold for Antwerp-based jeweler Ann Cox. Her vibrant, colorful, and edgy creations result from becoming beguiled with the texture, transparency, and multitude of ways the material can be transformed. Her obsession with the malleable material took her traveling across Europe and to the U.S. and Mexico to learn from the masters of contemporary jewelry, flameworking, and color theory. Sustainability has also been at the forefront of her work which uses recycled glass, including tubes from light bulbs and the leftovers from a glass studio. Cox is so well-known for her repurposing of glass that the word has spread. “Now that I’m known for using recycled glass, I receive used glass from different people,” she said, noting the donated material adds to her creative process.
Reimagining historical aspects of her native French culture, architect turned jewelry Sophie Terrière discovered the possibility of leather during a visit to a historic tannery, Romans sur Isère, in the South of France. Thus in 2014, she directed her taste for pure lines and imposing volume of her formal architectural training to create a jewelry brand under her name. Her leather jewelry reinterprets the distinguished material into graphic designs aimed at sophisticated minimalism lovers. Now based between Antwerp, Belgium, and the Champagne region of France, Terrière’s creations are handmade in limited of one-of-a-kind pieces such as her bib-style statement necklaces and drop earrings based primarily on combinations of different circles and squares.
Top: Ann Cox glow-in-the-dark glass earrings