MAD About Jewelry Pop-Up Offers The Best of Contemporary Designs

Including pieces from our very own EDDI designers!

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EDDI Designers Casey Perez, Dorian Webb, McKenzie Liautaud, Ruben Manuel at the MAD Pop-Up

The Museum of Art and Design is hosting a very special pop-up shop and benefit sale of contemporary jewelry featuring designs from more than 40 emerging and acclaimed international jewelry artists.

The annual sale, known as MAD About Jewelry is the ultimate shopping destination for contemporary, artist-made jewelry. Collectors and jewelry enthusiasts alike will have the rare opportunity to meet and acquire pieces from some of the most innovative creators in the field. The sale will also feature pieces from our very own EDDI designers, including Casey Perez Jewelry, Lisette Scott of Jam + Rico, Dorian Webb, McKenzie Liataud, Ruben Manuel, and Lana Ogilve of Sabre Jewelry.

Only Natural Diamonds was lucky enough to speak with Bryna Pomp, Director of MAD about Jewelry leading up to the opening of the pop-up shop and the benefit dinner, where our very own Editor-in-Chief, Sam Broekema is being honored for his contribution to the contemporary jewelry space.

Ahead learn more about MAD About Jewelry, the MAD Museum, and the future of contemporary jewelry from Pomp.

Bryna Pomp, Director, MAD About Jewelry

Only Natural Diamonds: Can you give us some background on the jewelry pop-up at the MAD Museum?

Bryna Pomp: With its singular position as the only museum in America with a permanent jewelry gallery devoted exclusively to modern and contemporary jewelry, the Museum of Arts and Design supports its profound institutional commitment to the field by holding this sale of contemporary jewelry each year, always introducing a new group of fifty makers to our audience.

MAD About Jewelry has become the premiere opportunity in America for the public to see and purchase this breadth and level of contemporary jewelry, and to actually meet the makers of the work.

This is the twenty-third edition of the show, and my thirteenth curating it.

OND: What do you hope people discover when they visit the museum and the pop-up?

BP: Our mission is to show the public that there is a whole universe of jewelry beyond the more commercial, prosaic type that one is most accustomed to seeing. We want our audience to recognize, appreciate, and feel excited by the inherent qualities present in the work of every maker invited to participate: originality, excellence in design, meticulous craftsmanship, a mastery of the materials being utilized, and its wearability.

At each edition we want our audience to see fifty more of the world’s most interesting and inventive contemporary jewelry makers. Since 2011 we have shown the work of more than six hundred different contemporary jewelers from nearly fifty different countries. The artists selected to participate each year range from established, highly recognized jewelers to very talented, emerging artists.

Each artist presents for sale anywhere from twenty-five to two hundred pieces of jewelry.  All of the artists are present at the event the whole week, this year coming from twenty different countries; and a real highlight is the ability for visitors to engage in conversation with the makers to hear about their process, technique, and inspiration. For a jewelry maker, the accomplishment of an invitation to show one’s collection at MAD About Jewelry provides great visibility and exposure and is often a real milestone in a maker’s career.

MAD About Jewelry Pop-Up Shop at the MAD Museum

OND: The Museum’s long-standing commitment to presenting jewelry as an art form is outstanding. For someone less familiar with contemporary jewelry, can you explain what it means for jewelry to be an art form?

BP: Worldwide, contemporary art certainly seems to be front and center for people to view, and indeed we have a wealth of opportunities to see contemporary paintings, sculpture, and installation art in an absolute abundance of galleries, museums, art fairs, and in public spaces. Other forms of contemporary art, particularly the applied arts which include jewelry, are not nearly as fortunate in their exposure.

At MAD our sole focus is on the applied arts. We want our audience to appreciate the intellectual and creative forces the artist puts into these mediums.

OND: How have you seen the contemporary jewelry space evolve over the years?

BP: Contemporary jewelry makers are continually pushing the boundaries of both materials and what has been commonly perceived as wearable, greatly mirroring, I believe, the whole contemporary art market.

OND: What are some of the most creative, out-of-the-box pieces you’ve seen recently?

BP: This edition of MAD About Jewelry is filled with inventive materials that include eggshells and walnut shells; handmade, hand-dyed paper; kitchen laminate and Corian; recycled and repurposed Japanese silk kimonos; recycled French Burgundy wine bottles; exotic paper currency and postage stamps; salvaged and recycled wood and single-use plastic bags; digitally printed images; 3d printed nylon; porcelain; leather; and glass.

There are also collections filled with humor and trompe-l’oeil, and one with exquisitely carved very personal, intimate imagery.

Complementing the work in alternative materials is a breadth of work in precious and non-precious metals—18K, silver, titanium, niobium, brass, and aluminum– and semiprecious stones. While these collections may be in materials that are perhaps more traditional in jewelry, their designs and statements are unexpected and spectacular.   

OND: How would you say the jewelry industry is shifting?

BP: I think that there is a movement to create jewelry that makes the wearer feel that what they are wearing has personal meaning and sentiment. I see people wanting to make more of an individual statement with the jewelry they wear.

OND: What advice would you give to someone who wants to break into the contemporary jewelry space?

BP: I think it’s critical to master the fundamental skills of metalsmithing and jewelry making and to go on from there to explore and then develop a wholly individual, signature voice and style and to stay true to this.