Jewellery in hand

Brune Boyer

1 December 2023

Brune Boyer, variation IV, 2023, Pyrite et tumbaga ©Michel Pellerej p

Brune Boyer is inspired by the ring of Prometheus to make objects that are cupped in the hand.

(A message to the reader in French.)

(A message to the reader in English.)

As a contemporary jewellery maker, I create pieces that explore the relationship between body and jewel. « Variations » pieces are in the continuity of works started years ago which respond to the desire to share different sensations when they are held in the hands.

The objects for the hand I’ve realized are made of different materials chosen for the sensation they produce. The density of fine gold allows me to create small pieces of jewellery that have a substantial weight in the hand and even though it isn’t attached to the body—the wearer has really to hold the piece at all times—this presence prevents falling down. The boxwood can be highly polished, which results in a very soft feeling so that one to keep holding the object.

In 2013, I placed an emerald-on-pegmatite in the palm of my hands. A questioning look at the jewellery evoked by the emerald arose, as well as a memory of the first ring ever set with a stone. Indeed, the mythological story tells that Zeus accepted Prometheus’ deliverance on the condition that he wear a ring. Made of the metal from his chains and set with a Caucasian stone, this was the first ring set with a stone. I’ve designed a setting for the emerald as a handcuff, but wearing it proved more ambiguous: the weight of the stone in the hands provokes a comforting sensation.

In 2022, I repeated this work with three pieces of jewellery to respond to an invitation for a show called « Bling ring ». For me, the expression « Bling ring » referred to the ostentatious aspect the jewel sometimes can take(s). I then decided to make shiny and seductive pieces with stones (or pearl) which attracted my attention. Each one inspired me with the shape of the “ring”: the pearl needed a sheltering space in order to be protected, the heaviness and the cut of the pyrite needed two hands to hold it, the big pink quartz needed a space around it to let it all shine. Three gestures emerged. Even though I have abandoned the idea of handcuffing the body, the desire to invite a particular gesture remains present. It is a way to ask which body institutes a jewel that constrains as much as it comforts. If somebody wishes to wear a “Bling ring” then it’s not really possible to pursue a daily life, go around and show off the big piece of jewellery he or she owns. My “bling rings” put the wearer in front of his-her intimacy, to confront their own thoughts and feelings and invite to meditation and dreams more than they offer an ostentatious appearance.

For Parcours bijoux 2023, I have pursued this line and the questions it raises about the intimate link between body and jewel. « VARIATIONS » pieces are opportunities to share sensitive experiences with materials, forms, colors. I have chosen different stones first for their shapes, and also by touching and feeling them. Some of them require both hands, others take place in one hand only. Having them in the hands, their colour and roughness conjure up images that stimulate my imagination. To share the feeling I have from each stone, I built a structure that leads to how to wear it. They are a guided experience, in the hope of activating the imagination of each wearer. As the use of such pieces is reserved for the private sphere because of the immobilisation of the hands involved, I’ve decided to make a double for each one to regain a nomadic quality. I wanted them to be pendants because they allow you to hold the jewels in your hands and thus they act as a memory of the original stone. I then became interested in different alloys for the colour they take on and to establish associations in each pair. Tumbaga, a pre-columbian alloy made from copper and gold takes on a golden colour that interacts with pyrite, silver gives fluidity to the shape matching the mica slices, and the patinas of shibuishi, an alloy made from copper and silver, create new landscapes.

My jewellery is always built around a tangle of ideas, materials, discussions and techniques; The “Variations” series emerged from the combination of a desire to feel shapes and materials in the hands, considerations about certain jewellery symbols, an interpretation of the expression “Bling ring”, and projections of images from stones and metal alloys. I would like these “variations” to invite wearers to experiment with different sensations and gestures that are conducive to daydreaming, in order to share what I love most: “thinking with my hands”.

Brune Boyer with the help of Caroline Volcovici for the translation. Many thanks to her.

About Brune Boyer

Having graduated from the High School of Applied Art in Geneva as a jewellery maker I have participated in various exhibitions all over the world since 1990. My creations are present in the collections of the MAD (Musée des arts décoratifs, Paris), the FNAC (French National fonds of contemporary art), Danner stiftung, and The Alice and Louis Koch Collection in the Swiss National Museum, Zurich. In parallel to my activity as an artist, the transmission and promotion of the profession have always been part of my concerns which has led me to teach and take part in various non-profit organizations. In 2020 I defended a thesis in anthropology at the Université Paris-Lumière to analyze and to understand better what a jewellery maker’s practice is. The title of my essay is La fabrique du bijou contemporain. Ethnographie d’ateliers. (The factory of contemporary jewellery. Ethnography of workshops.)

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