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Hi. This is Ben Lignel, the new AJF editor, sitting in for Susan this month.

"How does this field work?" This question has guided the AJF since its inception. Choosing this question allows us to move away from defending the legitimacy of contemporary jewelry and focus on valid critical thinking. For the coming year, AJF's editorial board has decided to act on its intuition that critical redemption will not come from people outside the field but may be found in refining the tools we use to discuss this practice.


Taking this on board, we have decided to invite several people to report, react, or reflect on a single issue or event. These polyphonic articles are called the In Sight Series and will usually be published in close succession of one every week. To launch the series, we asked a maker, a curator, and a historian to discuss From the Coolest Corner. Märta Mattsson reported on the event as a visitor and exhibitor; Love Jönsson juried the main exhibition and took our written questions; and Liesbeth den Besten, who curated one of the shows, responded to a Skype interview after her return from Oslo. Mattsson, Jönsson, and den Besten went to Norway with a different job to do. It is our hope is that their differences in expertise and position are reflected in the texts, and together produce a varied, complex snapshot of the event. We also hope a certain amount of friction will arise from their overlapping voices. 


Simultaneously, Interviews by Members was introduced to give you a voice in shaping AJF's original content. We value your unique perspectives, experiences, and thirst for knowledge. We hope you will ask many questions of our field of experts, and that you enjoy these two new formats.


Meanwhile, we are sharpening our minds for the upcoming "meet" in Munich. The official Schmuck program lists more than 80 events--roughly 62 more than is statistically possible for one person to see in three days. So, our editorial team at large (Susan Cummins, Marthe Le Van, and myself) have divided the city into three unequal parts and will be reporting, notepads in hand, on all there is to see whilst you sip your latte in the comfort of your heated living room. Incidentally, we just published a review by Bella Neiman on the Danner Rotunda. Why not have a quick read as a warm up before re-entry into the Schmuck-o-sphere?


On Thursday, March 7th at 7:30 pm, I will take a short break to have dinner with a group of AJF members and friends. This will be a nice occasion to have a quiet chat with people we seldom get a chance to meet face to face.


This month threatens to bring equal helpings of inspiration and frenzied scribbling, but I certainly look forward to the ride and hope you do, too.


Benjamin Lignel, Editor 

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Liesbeth den Besten

We have added another new member to our board, Liesbeth den Besten. She will bring a fresh and very well informed point of view to our policies and ambitions. Liesbeth den Bestin is a writer and historian from the Netherlands. 


Her recent book On Jewellery: A Compendium on International Contemporary Art Jewellery (Arnoldsche Verlagsanstalt, October 2011) is the most recent important text on contemporary jewelry.  

Welcome Liesbeth.

SNAG Conference, Toronto

The Society of North American Goldsmiths is holding their annual conference in Toronto, Canada from May 15-18, 2013.


The conference, titled "Meta-Mosaic," celebrates diverse activity in jewelry and metalsmithing in the twenty-first century.


For a conference overview and registration, visit

the SNAG website, and make your plans to go now.  


Of special note: former AJF editor Damian Skinner will deliver a talk at the conference.  


Don't miss it.

Amsterdam Trip CHANGE OF DATE   
Rijksmuseum, photo Myra May


Due to high hotel charges and a lack of good rooms available in September, we have changed the dates of the AJF trip to Amsterdam.  


The NEW DATES are OCTOBER 10-14.  


Our main hotel is the Sofitel, located in the heart of the city.  


Please let us know your interest, and make your reservations now for the best rates.



Ed Weiner, The Dancer, 1950s, photo: Ragoarts

Sotheby's 20th Century Design

March 6, New York, New York

Art Smith Half and Half, necklace, estimate $10-15K

Art Smith brooch/pendant, estimate $5-7K

Ed Wiener pendant and ring, estimate $5-7K


Rago, Modern

March 3, Lambertville, New York

Tapio Wirkkala necklace, Finland, 1978, estimate $1800-2400

Ed Wiener brooch, estimate $800-1200


Quittenbaum's Design

Post War and Contemporary Art (107A), February 26, Munich, Germany

Tapio Wirkkala necklace, estimate 300-400

Daniel Kruger necklace, estimate 3800-4000

Daniel Kruger necklace, estimate 2400-2600

Daniel Kruger necklace, estimate 2800-3000

Peter Bauhuis necklace, estimate 12,000-15,000

Peter Bauhuis gold necklace, estimate 20,000-25,000


The Editor Will Take Your Questions 
Benjamin Lignel, photo: Roger Laute


AJF members are representative of the contemporary jewelry field at large. They are a mixed bunch of collectors, curators, makers, teachers, writers, and the 153 possible combinations thereof. (Few--if any--in this field are doing just one thing.) 


But, we believe it was a shared passionate interest in contemporary jewelry that prompted you to become a member of AJF. We assume you spend a sizable amount of your time looking at other platforms, reading books and reviews we have not read, seeing exhibitions we will not see--basically shaping an independent point of view on what contemporary jewelry might be.


Interview by Members was launched because we value your perspective. We want to provide a conduit so you can ask questions you think are relevant. Our first (in-house) guest is new AJF editor Benjamin Lignel. He fielded six questions, and being French, rambled on as if he was answering 12. 


Our next guest will be Wolfgang Lösche, aka "the man behind Schmuck." Very soon, you will be receiving a letter inviting you to send your questions, and we will publish his answers soon after the Munich extravaganza. 


We hope you enjoy this format and will take an active part in the conversation.


Maurer-Zilioli Contemporary Arts, photo Ellen Maurer-Zilioli

Ellen Maurer-Zilioli of Maurer-Zilioli Contemporary Arts 

in Brescia, Italy answers questions posed by Kellie Riggs. The gallery is run by Ellen and her husband Claudio.  


Kellie Riggs: The title of your gallery indicates that it is for the contemporary arts, yet you include contemporary jewelry. Do you make a distinction between fine art and art jewelry, or do you consider them as one?


Ellen Maurer-Zilioli: In my opinion, it is not correct to automatically speak of art when you talk about contemporary jewelry, but of course there is always an interaction between them. For our exhibitions, I only take positions where it is absolutely necessary to underline the artistic impact of jewelry as art. I am an art historian and have been active for many years in the state museums of Munich, so I will always keep this connection and try to combine and interweave artistic and jewelry positions, design and crafts. 

Read more... 

Pascale Gallien


Collector Pascale Gallien is interviewed jointly by Damian Skinner and Ben Lignel about her collection, which Damian describes as "jewelry that subtly protests against societal expectations as to what jewelry will look like and be made of."   


Damian Skinner: So, you would draw a distinction because you are purchasing an object for its emotional relationship to you in the act of wearing, as opposed to purchasing it to fit with another piece you bought 10 years ago.


Pascale Gallien: Indeed. I never approach things in that kind of way. I just look at jewelry because, of course, I am attracted to the piece itself, the materials used, and the format. I like minimalist jewelry. The baroque things are not for me. I would not buy them. They may be pieces I could admire, but I would never wear them, and if I don't wear them, I don't buy them. Read more... 


This month, we feature the following galleries on the AJF website:
Galerie Spektrum
Mia Maljojoki
March 8 - April 27, 2013

Jewelers'Werk Galerie
Sally Marsland
March 16 - April 5, 2013
Lynn Kelly
Feb 25 - March 12, 2013
Gallery Funaki
Julie Blyfield
Feb 5 - March 2, 2013





Gothic Jewelry: Sinister Pleasures
National Ornamental Metal Museum

Memphis, Tennessee
until March 10, 2013


Un peu de terre sur la peau 


Appledorn, The Netherlands

until March 24, 2013  


Otto Kunzli: The Exhibition

Die Neue Sammlung, Pinokotek Moderne

Munich, Germany

March 9 - April 7, 2013   


Transit: Contemporary Jewellery From Israel
Bayerischer Kunstgewerbe-Verein e. V.  

Munich, Germany
March 1 - April 13, 2013 


Chicks on Speed and Lisa Walker present

Touch Me Baby I'm Bodycentric, a Mulitmodalplosion!

City Gallery

Wellington, New Zealand

March 2 - April 21, 2013


From the Coolest Corner 

The National Museum, The Museum of Decorative Arts and Design

Oslo, Norway

January 19 - April 21, 2013


Read My Pins: The Madeleine Albright Collection
Gerald R. Ford Presidential Museum
Grand Rapids, MI
through April 21  


Helen Britton: The Things I See  

Die Neue Sammlung (New Museum of Arts and Design)

Nuremberg, Germany

February 7 - April 28, 2013  


Wear It or Not: Recent Jewelry Acquisitions

Museum of Arts & Design

New York, New York

March 12 - June 3, 2013  


Out of the World! Jewelry in the Space Age
The Forbes Galleries
New York, New York
March 16 - September 7, 2013

Fashion Jewelry: The Collection of Barbara Berger
Museum of Arts & Design
New York, New York
June 25 - September 22 
Museum of Fine Arts
Boston, Massachusetts 
July 19, 2011 - July 1, 2014

What is it that renders contemporary jewelry precious?

From our Reserve Holdings: Inauguration of a New Permanent Exhibition Room Devoted to Contemporary Jewelry

Musee de Design et d'arts Appliquies Contemorains (MUDAC)

Lausanne, Switzerland

Ongoing from October 19, 2012  

Curated by Gail Brown

SNAG exhibition online


On the home page of our new website, there is a changing list of the interesting, strange, and wonderful ways that contemporary jewelry is hitting the headlines. Find out what has been attracting our curiosity at AJF Recommends...