Two remarkable jewellery collections are in safekeeping at the mudac: mudac’s and the Swiss Confederation’s, for which the museum makes regular acquisitions. With almost 200 pieces, these collections reflect the developments of a constantly evolving field. ‘Jewels in Play’ is the first exhibition that mudac dedicates to these precious collections.
The traditional definition of a jewel is that of a finely worked small object rendered precious by the material itself or the work entailed, and serving as an ornamental accessory. When contemporary jewellers use traditional metals to create ornamental accessories, they defy convention by scratching or brushing the gold, or by blackening the silver, ageing it or depriving it of its gloss. The resulting patina in both cases is a far cry from the brilliant finish generally associated with Western jewellery.
However, when they resort to basic materials, it is the methods used to transcend them which renders the pieces precious. They might, for instance, turn plastic wrap into a pearl, or a bank note into a cameo, and discarded scraps can be brought back to life as splendid jewellery pieces. Moreover, some of these jewellery designer’s ingenuity has led them to come up with new attachment systems, to reinvent ways for jewellery pieces to integrate directly into the body, or a garment, in ever more elaborate fashion. And yet, above and beyond all these considerations, what all these creations have in common is the painstaking workmanship that they entail. Every one of them bears witness to the intelligence of the hands that shaped them.