Signature Jewelry Style, Part Two: The Value of a Noncohesive Collection

Is your work all over the map? Do you struggle every day to create a cohesive, signature jewelry style?

Great! You may have a good reason. Right now, jewelry marketing experts are talking about how important it is to have a signature jewelry style. I struggle with this constantly. But guess what? There are times a signature jewelry style is the wrong approach. Here are some scenarios.

  • You are just starting out. Every time you master a new technique, your style veers in another direction. And you will probably need to learn dozens of techniques, from beading to basic silversmithing, from etching, enameling and forging to prong setting, before you are really ready to plunge head first into creative expression.
  • You create several different lines of jewelry for different audiences. For example: I’m making some cast fish for the Main Branch Gallery in Grayling, MI. They specialize in wildlife art. If everything works out, these fish will also be sold at a museum in Alpena, which inspired my work on this project. For a high-end gallery on Lake Michigan, however, I do a lot of gemmy lapidary work, setting wild-looking gemstones in high-end, polished sterling silver settings. I think I’ve developed a small following at this place and can stretch my creativity a bit. For another gallery, all they want is ant and spider earrings.
  • Custom work. A customer wants you to make something she has designed.
  • Repair or restoration work.
  • You want to challenge yourself with a difficult, multi-step, jewelry showpiece suite to stretch yourself as an artist. Or to enter juried competitions.

Betsy Lehndorff on making a signature jewelry style

  • You create step-by-step projects for magazines. I’ll do 3D scanning and printing of a hand-carved wax (below) for one issue of Lapidary Journal Jewelry Artist, and experiment with setting bubbly looking turquoise in a nest of pearls the next. In yet another article I’ll pierce out a sheet of sterling silver in the form of a fern leaf for a cuff or play around with a Georgian inspired pendant setting for a black star cabochon.
  • Any other reason you’ve got.

Betsy Lehndorff on making a signature jewelry style

Sigh. But if you want to make some cash to support all of these experiments, work on the discipline of creating a cohesive line of production pieces as well. As we say in the Northwoods, “May the forest be with you.”

See part one of Betsy’s thoughts on making a cohesive collection.


Betsy Lehndorff has been writing for Lapidary Journal Jewelry Artist since 2010. You can reach her at betsylehndorff@gmail.com.


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