Thursday, December 23, 2010


Located between the towns Hillegom and Lisse in the Netherlands is one of the world’s largest flower gardens, Keukenhof Garden. With an expanse of over 70 acres, the garden is home to an array of flowers including daffodils, narcissi, and hyacinths. The Netherlands is also home to featured jewelry designer Lucy Sarneel.

The bold, unpredictable quality of contemporary jewelry appeals to a small but growing number of collectors, and the Netherlands has become the premier location to find the world’s largest number of galleries devoted to this highly unique designer jewelry.

Like her colleagues Sasja Saptenno and Iris Eichenberg, Sarneel creates jewelry with a powerful, and unusual visual language that completely wipes the slate clean of what one would expect from jewelry.

As with all contemporary jewelry artists, Sarneel’s aesthetic is steeped in an acute intellectualism that integrates unorthodox materials like zinc, rubber, nylon thread, and wall objects with gold, silver, ceramic and glass beads, and even diamonds.

The results are often shocking as the majority of items do not look like traditional jewelry but that is the whole point. The jewelry’s alternately drab and chunky outlines are ultimately an expression of Sarneel’s views about life, nature and jewelry.

Where classic jewelry styles express complex concepts of love or faith in clear-cut, straightforward designs like a gold heart locket or a diamond cross pendant, Sarneel’s Lovepower Necklace is like unraveling a riddle with its random, non-descript link of varied formations of grey zinc.

Do the muted, gloomy colors and bulky forms suggest how love can sometimes feel heavy or burdensome; or does the color represent an element of confusion where love is often muddled with obsession? In my opinion, an observer’s reactions of mentally dissecting a piece and projecting their ideas onto it truly put contemporary jewelry in a class of its own.

While the design approach obviously makes the jewelry less aesthetically pleasing, I feel the tradeoff is an observer is taken on a visceral, visual journey as complex and nuanced as the jewelry.

“My jewelry pieces are translations of the competition between the 'natural' and the 'artificial'. A jewel can be a world of thoughts,” says the Gerrit Rietveld Academie graduate.

“In a world in which time limits, economic investment, and digital communication set the standard, I consider a jewel a few square centimeters of space to focus on and zoom in.”
Photo 1 (top right): Zinc and Wood Bundle II Brooch
Photo 2 (center): Ode to Marken Brooch with Zinc, Antique Glass Beads, and Antique Textile on Rubber
Photo 3 (bottom left): Lovepower Necklace with Zinc, Antique Venetian Glass, Pearls, and Nylon Thread
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