by Lynn Maleh

Modernist Silver JewelryIf you haven’t heard of Etsy, it’s about time you jump on this shopping goldmine. Without having to be loud or political, Etsy single-handedly takes a stand against everything that is wrong with current American consumerism. Forget monopolizing corporations and shady labor practices – this online marketplace features clothing, art, furniture, toys, and so much more from unaffiliated artisans around the world – kind of like your online farmer’s market. These vendors make money for their products and their products only, not for nasty marketing techniques or competitive business schemes. As the site decrees, “We are bringing heart to commerce and making the world more fair, more sustainable, and more fun.”

Etsy and Silver Jewelry

For all you silver aficionados, Etsy offers a variety of gorgeous silver goods. For example, check out this vintage modernist sterling silver handmade ring. Its haunting beauty is undeniable. In modernist tradition, the ring’s shape takes on an abstract form, something like a twisted rose from a witch’s enchanted garden. Not only is it valuable because of its silver worth, but because it literally is one-of-a-kind. While only one buyer can be the lucky owner of this 9.3 gram fairy tale-esque find, shop owner and antique expert Polly Curtiss has a large variety of other hand selected silver gems available from her Etsy store.

Jewelry collectors will be especially drawn to this piece for its modernist style. Modernist jewelry is very popular among jewelry experts, much like modernist art is for many art scholars. In fact, some have even dedicated their lives to modernist jewelry. Marbeth Schon is one of these modernist jewelry enthusiasts, and she has written extensively on the topic. Just check out her article, “Jewelry as Sculpture: The Birth of Modernist Studio Jewelry” for an art school dissection of the modernist jewelry movement.

The Modernist Jewelry Movement

According to Schon, author of Modernist Jewelry 1930-1960: The Wearable Art Movement (2004) and Form and Function: American Modernist Jewelry 1940-1970 (2009), the modernist studio jewelry movement dates back to the 1930s with the popularization of modern art in Europe. As fascism and Nazism drove many artists west to the US, modern art traveled with them. Modernist jewelry can be traced back primarily to Laszlo Moholy-Nagy who created the New Bahaus school in Chicago, which eventually evolved into the current Institute of Design. Studying under Maholy-Nagy, was Margaret De Patta, who to this day, is still considered one of the founders and greatest artists of modernist jewelry.

Modernist jewelry differs from its more traditional counterparts by considering much more than just shape in the design process. Modernist jewelry takes into consideration transmission of light and different kind of stones (first incorporated by De Patta), surrealist possibilities (as initiated by artist and writer Sam Kramer), primitivism (traced to modernist jewelry forefather Alexander Calder), African influences (as adopted by Peter Macchiarini), and abstract expressionism (brought by sculptor Ibram Lassaw).

As you can tell by these different artistic themes, modernist jewelry is extremely eclectic. It comes from all different kinds of inspiration and in many different shapes, materials, sizes, and forms. If you have any modernist jewelry that isn’t quite modern enough, you can make some quick cash by selling it to Cash for Silver USA.