Symposium "ThinkingJewellery"

"ThinkingJewellery" is an attempt to reflect on what jewellery is. It is about an interdisciplinary approach beyond the relevant categories of craft or art, applied or free: about exploring what jewellery is - not what it looks like. The need for adornment and jewellery has accompanied mankind as an anthropological constant from the very beginning. As an important cultural asset, jewellery is constantly reinterpreted in all eras. ThinkingJewellery brings together analyses and perspectives for action that are relevant to artistic practice.


so far

ThinkingJewellery XI (2017) - The Materials of Art

Imagination and virtual worlds

Beyond its value of utility , noble material - gold, silver, noble stones - has a lasting existence above all because of its symbolic power. In the field of jewellery, the classic range of materials has been expanded to include many natural materials and plastics that can be recharged. In jewellery, too, art, the old master of fiction, utopian design and thus virtuality, outlasts time: Ars longa - vita brevis. 

Meanwhile, it is not only physics that has long since abandoned the traditional notions of "solid" matter in dynamic cosmological models. The digital age is revolutionizing people's living conditions and, in particular, their social relations - probably to a greater extent than the invention of book printing at the beginning of the modern era.

Virtuality does not require proof of authenticity, nor real correspondence between material, form and colour. In view of these scenarios, which are also omnipresent, a longing for the authenticity of analog life, for a permanence and value grows, which materializes in the material and thus sensual presence of high-quality, identity-creating goods or in art.

ThinkingJewellery X (2014) - Art between leisure and social responsibility

The process of globalisation in all areas of life, accompanied by the escalation of economic and ecological crises, technological innovations taking place in ever faster succession, a hardly manageable supply of information and communication have led to a growing need for leisure and contemplation on the part of many people - in addition to a feeling of being overtaxed. They are regarded by many people as a source of a regained art of living. The contemplative life design opens the senses for aesthetic experience and creativity. For some it has become the gateway to a new spirituality.

ThinkingJewellery X puts the contemplative concept of life to the test. Does it lead to a retreat into the private sphere and a rejection of social responsibility - or can it become a source of strength for creativity and worldliness in the sense of an argument for a peaceful policy based on mindfulness and sustainability?

ThinkingJewellery IX (2013) - At the end of progress?

The need for adornment and jewellery has accompanied mankind as an anthropological constant from the very beginning. As an important cultural asset, jewellery is reinterpreted time and again in all eras. The age of postmodernism is for many an apocalyptic complex of crises: ecological crisis, financial crisis, crisis of justice. In the age of globalization and social division, politics increasingly appears to be incapable of action, despite all the conjurations of the lack of alternatives to one's own actions. At the same time - not only in fashion or advertising - a new regime of the aestheticization of everyday life is emerging, at the end of which the self-presentation of the individual in the net takes the place of real relationships. SchmuckDenken 9 gathers - under consideration of jewellery - exemplary analyses and discusses perspectives for action under the aspect of ethical premises.


ThinkingJewellery VIII (2012) - Science & Art

The 8th edition of SchmuckDenken questions the responsibility of art in a world that is increasingly endangered by man and the ideology of limitless growth. The focus of this issue is once again on the social role and responsibility of the creators of jewellery and art. In addition to the ethical question, the focus is not least on whether art and aesthetic experience can advance the process of scientific world knowledge and interpretation and what role the traditional materials of jewellery art, gold and precious stones, play or can play in this context. "ThinkingJewellery" will be continued within the framework of the Idar-Obersteiner Formdiskurs 2013.


ThinkingJewellery VII (2011) - Identity and Responsibillity of Applied Art

The 7th ‘SchmuckDenken’ will strike a balance between the symposia to date and identify the initial contours of a theory of jewellery.

At the same time, possible parameters for strategies for action for an autonomous creative practice of applied art in the conflicting demands of craft, design and fine art will be developed. As a result, the focus this year will be on the artistic identity of jewellery creators and their social role and responsibility.

A book ‘SchmuckDenken. Eine Theorie des Schmucks. [A theory of jewellery]’ will be published by the ARNOLDSCHE Verlagsanstalt Stuttgart to mark the 7th colloquium. The book includes a selection of articles from the years 2005-2010 and also contains around 100 illustrations of works of students and graduates which provide an appraisal of the current situation of the field of study of Precious Stone and Jewellery Design.


ThinkingJewellery VI (2010) - Globalization

This year the 6th colloquium deals with the all-embracing tendencies
towards globalization, which operate at every level – economic, political and cultural. The focus is on the cultural and artistic global interdependencies of the past and present and also considers their effects on jewellery. In the process, the theme will be exemplified in detail, taking art in the Islamic world as an example.


Thinking Jewellery V (2009) - Jewellery as Attribute

‘Schmuck-Denken 2009’ places the focus on jewellery as an object. Jewellery can be many things: It definitely comes under the category of loved objects (Habermas), with which their owner develops a very personal relationship. As a personal object which is a part of the character of its wearer, it supports him or her in their self-development and the profiling of their personality, both internally and externally. Sometimes jewellery becomes a fetish, thereby even acquiring its own power to act. At all events, jewellery can be described as an attribute. Jewellery in the sense of an attribute raises the question of identification. Marjan Unger reflects the theories of Allison Lurie when she writes: ‘I don’t wish to place too much emphasis on the point that ‘jewellery’ behaves like ‘language’, but rather that it contains a language. The vocabulary would be the types of jewellery, supplemented by the symbolism of the forms, colours, motifs and any other references. The grammar would be how and when jewellery is worn and also who owns what pieces and who does not. In short: how people interact with jewellery.’


ThinkingJewellery IV (2008) - Ornament & Society

In 2008, our 4th Symposium is dedicated to the ornament. Is jewellery per se decorating? Are there contemporary ornamental means of expression? What is their social context? Scientists like

  • Marjan Unger, art historician und author,
  • Prof. Dr. Helmut Neunzert, em. Professor of Mathematics,
  • Prof. Dr. Burghart Schmidt, Professor of language und aesthetics
  • Dr. Christina Threuter, art scientist and
  • Prof. Reinhard Bahr, music theorist

and artists like

  • Johannes Stüttgen,
  • Peter Egli,
  • Lin Cheung and
  • Gijs Bakker

are discussing these controversial questions about the influences of the ornament on jewellery and society.


ThinkingJewellery III (2007) - Beauty and Uniformity

The 3rd colloquium “Schmuck-Denken” 2007 is still in search of a jewellery theory with the focus on the complex relationship between beauty and uniformity. As an element of pursuing acceptance, jewellery can become a tool of conformity. It also can become an instrument of nonconformity when it is used as a provocative attempt to separate oneself from society. On the other hand, it is conformist, in the case of the jewellery demonstrating an affiliation to a sub-cultural group. “Schmuck-Denken” will be continued during the next “Idar-Obersteiner FormDiskurs” in 2008.


[Translate to Englisch:] SchmuckDenken/ThinkingJewellery


on the way to a theory of jewellery
352 pages, 16,5 x 24 cm, 110 illustrations in colour and 230 in black and white. Hardcover. Text in English.
ISBN: 978-3-89790-326-5

"SchmuckDenken" is the condensed result of the symposium of the same name, which has been jointly organised since 2005 by the Idar-Obersteiner course of studies in gemstone and jewellery design at the FH Trier and the city of Idar-Oberstein. More than 100 jewellery designers, students and scientists from all over Europe meet here regularly. They conduct a comprehensive, unlimited discourse on the theoretical foundations of jewellery on the basis of scientific contributions from a wide variety of research fields.

39,80 € + shipping.

The book is sold out.

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