Measure jewellery by its design not its price

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Wave boss Jo Henderson on why jewellery is more than a commodity.

By Jo Henderson

It is safe to say that within the jewellery industry there is a growing debate about where fine jewellery ends and fashion jewellery begins, especially since the word fashion in a jewellery context seems historically to have similar connotations to the description costume jewellery, i.e. fake or cheap and cheerful.

However, with the advent of designers such as Theo Fennell, Stephen Webster and Shaun Leane, who are closer to their contemporaries in the clothing industry, is it not more relevant to look at fashion in jewellery in the same way we view luxury goods – good design, seasonal collections, new trends and lifestyle choices?

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With this in mind, should it matter what the piece of jewellery is made from but rather that it is made with the best materials to capture the designer’s vision and give the wearer pleasure? The the value is created by the skill and creativity of the jeweller along with its desirability factor, which of course is what dictates consumer demand.

We cannot ignore that a good percentage of fine jewellery will always be bought for a significant reason or occasion, often by a significant other, with the most obvious of these being the engagement or eternity ring. However with the rise of the self-purchasing woman who knows what she likes and is not scared to be different, and men wearing and buying more jewellery for themselves, the statement cuff or must-have ring of the season should become the norm in jewellery in the same vain as the statement bag or must-have coat. Jewellery should finally be able to transcend the notion that its value, or lack of, is purely due to the sum of its parts and its weight or scrap worth.

Let us also consider the world of fine art. Does anybody ask Sotheby’s how much paint and canvas Damien Hirst uses in his paintings and question them if they are getting enough of it for their money? I hazard a guess they would be laughed out of the gallery if they did, perhaps why on reflection Hirst went on to create his platinum and diamond skull to challenge the notion from the opposite angle, using £10 million of diamonds to create a piece valued at £50 million.

Jewellery meets fashion meets fine art? No doubt the debate will and should continue.

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