On Not Wearing

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In an earlier post, Anna commented that she doesn’t wear jewelry much, which got me thinking. About not wearing jewelry, both by jewelers, as well as non-jewelers. And the more I think about it the more I suspect that not wearing can inform and illuminate jewelry making just like wearing can. Rather than trying to think this all the way through to some conclusion, I’m just going to jot a few thoughts down and hope that you will chime in with anything that occurs to you as well.

  • Anna mentioned that jewelery gets in the way at the work bench. And I realize that I too, tend to remove my watch and a bracelet that I otherwise always wear. It becomes part of my settling-in and getting-down-to-business ritual, along with the donning of the overalls, leather apron and other protective clothing. I also wear four silver rings which are simple variations on a plain band, but they they stay on at the studio.
  • My “day job” is food related and thus, I am required to wear a uniform. In addition to this, there are certain restrictions on jewelry. The watch and bracelet have to come off, but because the rings are plain bands, they can stay on. I am required to wear a head covering and a uniform shirt and apron. Because of all this “uniformity,” I start to feel like I am not looking like myself. Like I am all covered up. I think that this is much of why I wear earrings and a necklace almost every day, to rebel against the conformity and assert a little individuality. But there are still practical limitations. There’s no wearing anything that could get caught or come undone, or get in the way in the midst of running around and working. Between the uniform shirt and the apron, there’s not much neck/chest area for a necklace, which I think goes along way to explain my current tendency to make necklaces that sit up fairly high.
  • In the Western, European guild-based tradition of jewelery-making/goldsmithing, jewelers were pretty much all men, I think. And at least in more recent stages of this same cultural tradition, men don’t wear as much jewelry as women. So, in fact, jewelers not wearing jewelry might be more the norm. This makes me curious about other traditions around the world, and in different time periods. Were there other cultures where it was the norm for wearers to make their own jewelery? Perhaps in traditions where the tools, skills and materials involved were more easily obtainable than in cultures where gold or silver smithing dominated jewelry?

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