Have you ever wondered what is Steampunk fine jewelry? So do we, and we are glad to share with you five hints or clues to distinguish real Steampunk fine jewelry.
1.- Craftwork. Exclusivity is the real luxury.
We all know that fast food chains are convenient and affordable; however, nobody turns to them when looking for ‘haute cuisine’. With fine jewelry happens exactly the same, no surprise.
In that sense high jewelry is not different from haute couture. Using Wikipedia as source: ‘Until the 1950s, fashion clothing was predominately designed and manufactured on a made-to-measure or haute couture basis (French for high-sewing), with each garment being created for a specific client. A couture garment is made to order for an individual customer, and is usually made from high-quality, expensive fabric, sewn with extreme attention to detail and finish, often using time-consuming, hand-executed techniques. Look and fit take priority over the cost of materials and the time it takes to make’.
When fine jewelry comes into play, a plus of uniqueness and sophistication is required. The way we see it, the pleasure of exclusivity is the essence of luxury. And, as we always say, there is nothing more exclusive than something that is one-of-a-kind. Quoting the words of Ms. Franca Sozzani, editor-in-chief of Vogue Italia since 1988: ‘Craftsmanship is luxury. A product is luxe when it is handmade, tailored for few. Luxury meaning exclusiveness’.
2.- Best materials only.
Traditional fine jewelry is made with precious metals and gemstones. Despite this concept is undergoing a revision, fine jewelry will always require extraordinary ‘ingredients’. This is, raw materials do matter.
Universal acknowledged materials are:
2.1. Precious metals
A metal is deemed to be precious if it is rare. Historically speaking, the best-known precious metals are the coinage metals gold and silver. While both have industrial uses, they are better known for their uses in art, jewellery and coinage. Platinum is only used for top-of-range pieces.
The traditional classification in western countries, which goes back to the Hellenistic period, begins with a distinction between precious and semi-precious stones. This classification has suffered changes over time and depending on cultural contexts, which has made very difficult to determine what constitutes precious stones. Jade, for example, is considered the most valuable gemstone in China.
At present, and depending on fashion trends, market supply, treatments, etc., several gemstones are used even in the most prized jewelry. In any case, diamonds, rubies, sapphires and emeralds are still the most valued gemstones.
Not only the type of gemstone is important, but also additional parameters:
- Color.- When talking about colored stones, most dealers assess the color component of a stone at between 50-70% of its value. A rich, bright, intense and vivid color is always best. In fact gemstones should not be too dark or too light. Ideally, they should look good under any light conditions. Gemological Institute of America (GIA) suggests to describe color for colored gemstones as Hue, Tone and Saturation.
- Clarity.- Colored stones are almost never as clean as diamonds, in fact many of the most valuable gemstones like emeralds, rubies and alexandrites are rarely clean. Even in some cases it is the inclusions which cause the optical phenomena and enhance a stone’s value.
- Cutting.- The most usual method of fashioning a gem is to cut the surface into a number of flat faces, known as facets. When reflection arises, aspects such windowing, meetpoints, girdle and good polish are decisive in order to distinguish between well and poorly cut gemstones.
- Carat.- A carat is a metric unit of weight used in the gemstone industry to describe how much a gemstone weighs. A carat is equal to one fifth of a gram and there are five carats in one gram. Remember that valuable gemstones are generally sold by weight and not by size.
The use of antiques (this is, vintage elements) may be an option to link a jewel to a historical period. However, we think that this can only make sense if this does not entail damaging consequences for the antiques. The idea of wearing a bit of History can become very attractive, but artistic heritage is important enough to be respected. We need to be sure of the approppriateness of using antiques, analyzing ver carefully the legitimacy of the item origin, its authenticity and its real value.
3. Outstanding inspiration and design.
Luxury is not mere opulence. This means that the use of valuable materials in the manufature of a jewel is a necessary but not sufficient condition to consider it high-end jewelry.
From our point of view, Steampunk fine jewelry has to be evocative in some way of the 19th Century. This requires solid historical accuracy accompanied by exquisite innovation. Luxury, as Steampunk itself, is experimentation too, and has nothing to do with plagiarism. Copycats are not welcome.
4.- Details, details, details.
Because details do matter. Which kind of details are we thinking about? We could take into consideration factors such as:
- Superior quality. In fact, Steampunk fine jewelry should guarantee a lifetime of (careful) use.
- Unquestionable manufacture. Remarkable professional jewelers have technical knowledge, experience and resources to achieve the desired objectives. Education and tools are fundamental; attitude is the final push needed.
- Technical specifications. Gold international caratage, sterling silver hallmarking, gemstone classification and/or grading, etc.
5.- Accurate cultural awareness.
Jewelry is almost as old as humankind itself, with 100,000-year-old beads made from Nassarius shells thought to be the oldest known jewelry. It has always been linked with wealth, power and status. Besides, jewelry is one of the most symbolical crafts and its value as amulet can largely exceed the human need for ornamentation.
We all know that there is an emerging Steampunk cosmology enriched with symbols of its own: gears and watch parts, locks and keys, compasses and sextants, penny-farthings, medical equipment, octopuses… however, we think that going further is necessary. Due to this ancestral background, Steampunk jewelry should pay attention to its historical roots and to the messages that result from them.
There is no need to say that it is important to be careful when using iconography of cultures we are not familiar with: elements such as religious, ethnic or symbols need always special consideration.
We hope these tips to be useful and look forward to hearing from you.
We are Decimononic, pioneers in steampunk fine jewelry. Proudly taking steampunk fine jewelry to a new level as a way to empower every individual person.
Bonus: If you are interested in Steampunk jewelry you cannot afford to miss our brief interviews series: ‘Steampunk jewelry tonight with…’