Jewelry artists in northern Europe and the United States led the way, and in Germany, Hermann Junger (b. 1928) exerted a strong influence on the development of contemporary jewelry both as an artist and mentor. As one of Germany's premier goldsmiths, Junger's innovative jewelry and inspired teaching had a far-reaching influence not only in his native country, but throughout Europe and the United States as well.
Despite the novel appearance of his jewelry, Junger traced much of his inspiration to the expressive power of Romanesque jewelry. In the individualistic use of materials that characterized Romanesque jewelers, Junger recognized a "spontaneity that had been lost or for, in the bland conformity of later jewelry design in Europe ." Taking Romanesque jewelry as models, Junger used a rich palette of colorful gems and enamels and preserved surface irregularities caused by the process of making.
Junger's life continues to be an exploration of new forms and sources of inspiration that he transforms into his jewelry. Throughout his career, Junger created jewelry that reflects his thoughtful and abiding commitment to the process of "making," through which he examines and reacts to the world around him. His objects encourage the wearer/viewer to appreciate through the artist's eyes a world in which everything can possess intrinsic energy and visual poetry. In Junger's words, "Only slowly, the 'new' emerges out of a careful transformation of the everyday and familiar. For a piece of jewelry, the design of a medieval book cover may provide instant inspiration, a rubbish dump a more remote one; both are triggers for the imagination."
In the late 1980s, Junger created a series of necklaces with interchangeable parts that allowed the wearer to configure the components as desired. The elements included squares, cylinders, and other geometric shapes in ivory, enamel, gold, and silver as well as both precious and semiprecious materials. With these carious components, the wearer can create an ever-changing personal statement. In later works, whenever the piece is not being worn, it is designed to be disassembled into a specially built matte-black container recalling the compact and anonymous "black box" look from German industrial design. The box makes an arresting contrast to its contents of individually crafted elements, as in his 1987 example, where there is an almost mathematical layout in which the interchangeable pendants are housed in recessed areas surrounded by the thin wire on which they are to be worn.
In the late 1970s, Junger began to use nonprecious metals regularly, especially tombak, which, like bronze, is an alloy of copper and zinc. These works offered a visually new and exciting alternative to precious materials as Junger expanded his palette to include unusual combinations of materials--rusty surfaces, grommets, wires, rods, tool-punched tin, coral branches, bits of hematite and blood jasper, and even Plexiglas. To capture a sense of the unexpected in other works of that period, Junger created brooches and pendants by soldering a sheet of tombak to one of silver; he then punched the combined sheet from the back and filed ins away the protrusions on the top sheet to reveal the contrasting metal underneath to create a series of brushstroke-like patterns.
Wendy Ramshaw is a leading and internationally renowned artist jeweller, who never ceases to experiment with a diverse range of materials and new technologies. Artistically always ahead of her time, her designs are distinctive and innovative. She first trained in illustration and textile design. Her early jewellery, made in the early 1960s with her husband David Watkins, used screen-printed acrylic and paper.
In about 1970 she turned to working in silver and gold, rapidly establishing a distinctive minimalist style influenced by modernism and industrial design. Its linear purity and decisive blocks of colour, along with the in-built versatility of her work, gained her the Council of Industrial Design Award in 1972.
In fact, it was Ramshaw herself that invented displaying ring sets on pillar, a superb way of appreciating the sculptural qualities of her work and just why Ramshaw was named a Freeman of the Worshipful Company of Goldsmiths, one of the first two women to do so. Her designs have an incredibly geometric quality with emphasis placed on the circle and square, the ring and band - all coupled with strong, clean palettes, be it differing precious metals or bold colouring within.
The ring sets have become her trademark and exemplify two new concepts. The wearer is involved in the design process and also has ultimate choice in how to combine the individual elements of the ring on the hand. In its complete state and mounted on a decorative stand, the ring becomes a sculptural object.
Her early ring sets or so-called 'pillar rings' with spire-shaped bezels are inspired by the Space Age and urban developments of the late sixties in Britain. The gemstones and their compositions reflect elements of Constructivism.
Babette von Dohnanyi
" It appears that within Babette von Dohnanyi two 'souls' exist : firstly, in her intrinsic 'direct' relationship with the materials she moulds - materials, which though treated with extreme gentleness , are transformed into strong block ashlar shapes like ancient stones, i.e; her bracelets and rings - are created according to a subtle restless geometry, i.e.; her brooches - something that was passed on to her through the school of Babetto, where she trained while in Salzburg,
The other soul ' declines ' her ' feminine ' jewellery art, with references to archaic mytology and anthropology, traditionally connected to a woman's life, to the everyday world, and embodied in a naturalness and softness. To this soul her necklaces in gold and traslucent silver belong, crocheted, lace-like and luminous, works, which in their rhytmic movement, let light filter through the perforations of the boules, braid-sculptures, charged with a delicate tension. "
Marvelously Modern Minimalist
"Our eyes are overloaded with stimuli every day. There are very few things in which calmness is inherent that are pleasing to the eye. To create jewelry in which such things are manifest is the main aim of my work." — Carl Dau - See more at:
Dau never really worked at creating a unique piece of jewellery. His ambitions were always aimed at serial jewellery, even though the term serial production has meanwhile been modified and is more precise.
The first series produced at the beginning of the eighties were graphically dominant. The influence of objects of art on these first series was apparent and they often appeared like cultivated, small, wall objects. The preferred shapes were circular, triangular and square, offered in various material combinations and a variety of graphical structures.