Friday, June 18, 2010


One of Portugal's most beautiful regions is the picturesque Algarve Coast. With its high cliffs, rock formations, fine sands, and crystal waters, it is a fantastic locale for relaxing and enjoying breathtaking surroundings. Portugal is also the home of featured jewelry designer Ana Cardim.

Like other designers who create wildly distinctive conceptual jewelry, Cardim is clearly not afraid of stepping outside the norm.

Educated in Spain, Portugal, and the United States of America, Cardim's work epitomizes what I feel constitutes the conceptual style. It is thought provoking, comical, and whimsical while ultimately wearable.

Even though I understand enthusiasts' love for the classic, timeless designs of someone like Neil Lane or the Cartier brand, I also feel the public has a taste for the unique and idiosyncratic.

From what I have seen, conceptual jewelry often conveys poignant yet humorous reflections of the human condition rather than objects of endearment. Even if people shy away from wearing Cardim's pieces they certainly invite attention and conversation.

Such "device" pieces as Clean Your Mind, Garbage Pin, and Urban Help, reveal a sophisticated and thoughtfully conceived design approach. "The jewel device is itself a place that inhabits a mobile place: the body," she explains.

"The jewel's place of support, the body, is a place of communication that, at the same time, carries it to different places. In this sense, the jewel can be understood as a place of dialectic between the private space of the wearer and the public space he or she carries it.

This mobility reconfigures the jewel as social communicator; an expression device generator of critical speech in the public space."

Cardim amalgamates such materials as silver, acrylic, tiny paper rolls, bubble wrap, and even hot peppers and puts a decidedly new twist on statement-making jewelry. Her socially conscious items are geared towards societal emotional or spiritual cleansing.

The humorous Clean Your Mind Pin is a vivid, miniature facsimile of a toilet paper roll. The piece's purpose is simple; to help rid the mind of worry and anxiety.

"You pull the hygienic paper, break it in a desired measure, and write down any personal problem or worry," Cardim explains.

You visualize that the problem is not going to worry you anymore, and you throw the paper in the toilet. You repeat this process as many times as needed. The piece serves as a catharsis vehicle."

Composed of a simple sterling silver ring, and small plastic bag, The Garbage Pin's function is along the same lines. "This jewel device calls on the current urban, social pattern that confronts the notions of waste and worth," she says.

"The piece can be symbolic, a place to keep memories of the day-to-day, small nothings. The piece acquires new meanings to whoever uses it so its symbolic value is confirmed through the manner in which it is used."

It is always refreshing to see jewelry designers veer off the beaten path, and reinvent the concept of jewelry.

I like seeing that such innovation, and originality helps to challenge the traditional concept while also transcending it.
Photo 1 (top right): Sterling Silver, Acrylic, and Paper Roll Clean Your Mind Pin
Photo 2 (bottom left): Sterling Silver and Paper Book Ring
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