Monday, June 20, 2011

The Art of Making: Symbolic Jewelry

By: Erica Delp

A jeweler who does custom work has the joy of sharing many of life’s important moments with their customers. Human beings across cultures recognize the symbolic significance of jewelry. It’s used to celebrate, to mourn, to commemorate and to convey a message.

This was something that I, of course, logically knew prior to my time as an apprentice, but now that I am working first hand on these significant pieces, the true meaning of this has really begun to sink in. Not too long ago, I assisted Layne in preparing memorial bracelets for a family that had lost a loved one. As I cut the metal to length, I thought about the people, their loss and their desire to remember their family member. I prayed silently over the pieces asking that God would make them a tangible source of comfort for their wearers. We recently also had the privilege of working on the wedding band of a friend. I felt so privileged to share in their joy as I watched Layne create the ring and thought about the union that it symbolized.

We live in a mechanized world. Because of this, modern humans are so rarely are able to engage in a physical interpretation of lofty concepts, such as love or grief. There is something truly significant creating these pieces by hand. As, I work with the metal and stone, my hand moves in empathy and compassion. As I develop a design, my mind is fixed on the story of the people and the ideas my work symbolizes. As I give a final polishing, my imagination is captured thinking of all the memories and moments the piece represents and will come to represent in the future.

These are things that a machine can’t do. I believe that all the best wishes and love that I feel are embodied in the work I do, giving pieces that much more meaning to their wearers. Being on the artist side of the process has taught me that life’s significant moments are even more remarkable when they are brought to life in tangible form. It truly is an honor to be entrusted with these precious symbols.

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