Gioielli in Fermento is an international competition and exhibition project on contemporary designer jewellery. Over 600 artists and designers have taken part in the ten years of activity. We talk in detail with Eliana Negroni, the founder of the project.
Gioielli in Fermento was born 10 years ago, from the experience of a group of creators, to exhibit together their works and raise a direct and representative voice for various professional experiences. Among us there were those who already had a background in contemporary jewellery and those who were closer to artistic experimentation or design.
Eliana's experience is confronted with variety and with research outside of commercial channels:
"I came in as an outsider into this group that was born on the fringes of the Association of Contemporary Jewellery (AGC) - my experience was in my family workshop, where more precisely we made jewellery equipment and not artefacts. This is why, alongside my technical training, I have always cultivated artistic interests and wanted to deepen the creative aspect, which is very strong in this field of small manufacturing".
"Coming from this hybrid environment," explains Eliana, "I started experimenting, mainly with metals - non-precious metals - and then looking for a way through prototyping and one-offs.
The meeting with AGC brought out in Eliana the desire to explore outside commercial channels, focusing her participation in the proposal to unite the work environment and the territory. The opportunity came from Eliana's move to the hills of Piacenza, where she was able to rediscover a deeper quality of life and, among other things, a passion for wine.
"The hills of Piacenza, a densely populated wine-growing area, are dotted with young people who are committed to the logic of making wine, and enhancing and reinterpreting their traditional businesses. This observation sparked off the combination, the fusion, a cross- contamination of these two worlds, in order to make the public enjoy these two worlds (jewellery and wine!)".
That is how the idea started, grew, and developed. Jewellery in Turmoil is born!
The evolution of the initiative was gradual but unstoppable.
Little by little we have become more international," explains Eliana, "thanks to an independent circuit we have started to have contacts with foreign galleries, in Europe and not only there, and through social networks, our daily means of communication since the early years, our network of relationships has consolidated. To share experiences, to understand, and to carry out professional exchanges... because, compared to a few years ago, today it is as easy to talk to an artist in Japan or Australia as in the most hidden workshop in the Apennines.
This gave a big boost, because we were able to network with many independent firms. The project has therefore grown year after year, thanks to the original formula of the competition, which has involved international juries, other bodies, design schools and European goldsmith research schools. It's been growing day by day," explains Eliana, "a project we've worked on with great commitment, never giving up: 10 years of great enthusiasm.
But what, for Eliana, is a research jewel?
"What still amazes me, always, beyond the images, the moment I can hold it in my hands, is its authenticity and its intrinsic surprise effect. And when a work (ornament, bijoux) is well conceived, and 'works', then it is universal and affects people with different expectations.
Creativity and ingenuity, combined with the intention of investigating and expressing oneself in an individual way, represent the creator's signature. In short, be unexpected and authentic.
Eliana's experience is 'in the field', as she was able to compare many of the works presented at Gioielli in Fermento.
"In these 10 years of the competition, we have always referred to words related to wine and, in a broader sense, to concepts that recover the tradition and nature of Mediterranean countries, a very characterful context. Yet the hundreds and hundreds of works that have been selected over the years have always turned out to be very special and interesting, and never trivial".
"As I was saying, creativity, ingenuity, the need to express oneself in an individual way, as well as being the trump card for being selected, is what stimulates the creator to measure him- or herself and design new collections, representing something intimate, authentic and original,' explains Eliana, concluding: "You have to find your own story, it's not an automatic process, and you have to understand how to put it into your work, in the use of materials, in the respect or provocation of forms'.
But who is a jewel designed for?
"For those who do not recognise themselves in approval, or in a mass-produced item of jewellery, and who do not want to identify a precise trend or one dictated by the seasonal fashion system".
"That does not mean snubbing traditional jewellery or valuables, quite the contrary! Researching the value of history and authenticity is a very topical issue. These features are less notable in a mass-produced piece, they don’t speak to us enough. Nowadays many generations no longer wear jewellery and are attached to brands. This audience might like to have the opportunity to speak directly to artists and young creatives, and this is something that becomes possible at our events. This is one of my main aims: to help people understand that there is something else out there. To increase the audience’s critical thinking so they can recognise and choose something different for themselves”.
The public remains sovereign in its choices and grows year after year.
"I have also noticed a certain growth in our audience," notes Eliana, "over the years. I am happy to have encouraged and facilitated a certain amount of contact and familiarity with choices that are not taken for granted, exercising a more 'critical' eye on what one really wants to wear.
Make an appointment at the next Jewels in Ferment awards ceremony to be held on-line in June https://gioiellinfermento.com/