Beyond Silver LogoWe are delighted to announce that the ACJ will be holding a conference in 2022 Beyond Silver: 25 Years of the ACJ

Friday, Saturday and Sunday 1, 2, 3 July 2022, Exeter University

Together both conference and exhibition Meanings & Messages celebrate the 25th anniversary of the Association for Contemporary Jewellery. In 2017 the ACJ celebrated its 20th Anniversary by marking the past and the present through the exhibition 20:20 Visions and exploring the future through the conference of the same name. Now, five years on, the focus has shifted to the position of contemporary jewellery in a changed society.

To focus our reflections on where contemporary jewellery has brought us over the last 25 years, we sought inspiration from the translation of Marjan Unger’s doctoral dissertation, Jewellery in Context: A Multi-disciplinary frame-work for the study of jewellery. After her passing, Theo Smeets and a number of jewellery institutions, scholars and interested individuals came together to publish Unger’s work in her spirit, making it available in English over a decade after it was defended in 2010. When we wear jewellery, we are communicating something about who we are and what is important to us. Contemporary jewellery doesn’t just engage with the history of jewellery and the body but also expands upon an array of associations and Jewellery in Context seemed like an excellent place to begin our reflection and help frame the conference topics.

Over the course of three days the conference will offer an opportunity for discussion, debate and engagement across a range of concerns that affect the discipline of jewellery. It hopes to provide a framework for discussion on and around British Contemporary Jewellery by posing a number of questions pertinent to the current global situation and exploring the discipline through some specific contextual lenses.

Creative education is changing and there is a skills gap on the horizon, but there is everything to play for: we live in a digital culture that supports the creative entrepreneur, what does the future of the British Jewellery look like in this post-Brexit and global pandemic landscape? While contemporary jewellery in Britain has evolved much over the last 25 years, how will jewellery evolve over the next 25?

Themes for the conference will include:

Jewellery as a social connector
Jewellery has always served to emphasise identity and status, but it also plays a role in relationships between people. How do we connect with other people through jewellery? Have there been positive outcomes to this global pandemic? How do people view jewellery worn by others and what conversations are had?

Jewellery: meanings and messages
Jewellery contains within in it a vast diversity of meanings. What does the jewellery we wear reveal about who we are? What are the meanings and messages contained within a piece: are they subtle or explicit?

Democratising the field
Once the preserve of the initiated few, contemporary jewellery is now reaching a broader audience through the opening of online platforms. How are customers accessing contemporary jewellery today? Has the independent jeweller benefitted from the global reach of social media in the form of an increase of interest and sales from new clients? How has this affected the galleries?

Jewellery as art
Jewellery historically, is made to be worn: what is it without the body, is it still jewellery? As such a universal phenomenon and art form, definitions of jewellery would seem superfluous to requirement but how it is viewed is constantly changing. With more and more contemporary jewellery now acquired by museums and collectors beyond ethnological imperatives and with traditional art categories no longer applicable we explore artistic practices rooted at the intersections of craft, applied and visual arts, design and fashion.

New voices
A chance to hear from those who are new to research or studying on an MA or PhD in jewellery and give them a platform to discuss their ideas and work so far.