40 Years of Craft: Jewelry

Since its inception in 1977, the Philadelphia Museum of Art Craft Show has consistently recognized talented artists across a multitude of mediums. By examining the PMA Craft Show’s jewelry category winners from the past 40 years, we illustrate trends in each era.

In the 1980s and 1990s, artists put great emphasis on the symmetry, shapes, and patterns of their jewelry.

Valerie Jo Coulson is one artist whose jewelry contains these elements. A studio art jeweler who won the Franklin Mint Prize in the 1986 PMA Craft Show, her style includes the use of the traditional method of fabrication and stone inlay. Her jewelry is influenced by different cultures and styles (such as sacred geometry) and even embodies an emotional experience. This was typical of jewelry in the 80s; no longer just a fashion accessory, this was the first decade where items were designed to highlight individuality and personal style.

Throughout the 90s, the Best of Show award heavily shifted to include jewelers.

As the 90s progressed, it became clear that the styles of the 80s were here to stay. Artists continued to push boundaries, aiming to have their work reflect a deeper meaning. Robin Kranitzky and Kim Overstreet, First Prize winners in 1993, are a good example of this trend. They began making jewelry by juxtaposing objects found in attics and junk shops. By assembling a plethora of unlike materials, their artwork took on a delicate and detailed style, which stood out on both an aesthetic and a symbolic level. Interestingly, their style is similar to that of Coulson; both artists tell a story through emotional and metaphorical elements.  

As the Craft Show approached the 21st century, jewelry trends entered a new era as well. Focus shifted toward creating bright, powerful pieces as well as greater experimentation with design.

David Forlano and Steven Ford won Best of Show in 2002. Their work includes creating colorful and sculptural jewelry from polymer and sterling silver, while utilizing bright colors and complex, cross-sectional patterns.

In recent years, artists have even been observing clothing trends, in order to ensure that their jewelry will complement a fashionable outfit and appeal to a larger audience.

Yvonne Markowitz, one of the jurors from the 2014 PMA Craft Show, observed  a recent trend she has seen in jewelry is greater emphasis on wearability and less emphasis on conceptual approaches to design.

Last year’s Best of Show winner, Agnieszka Winograd, crafts jewelry for women of all ages using a unique blend of interwoven metals and precious stones. By designing her jewelry in a way that speaks to a woman’s spirit in an elegant, chic, and yet playful way, Winograd’s pieces add the finishing touch to any outfit.

We are excited to see the different trends and designs the jewelers in the 2016 Craft Show will be featuring. And best of all, we are excited to wear them!

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