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5 pages/≈1375 words
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MLA
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Communications & Media
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Essay
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English (U.S.)
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High-End Jewelry and Handmade Jewelry (Essay Sample)

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THIS WAS AN ESSAY FOR A COURSE TITLED FASHION IN JOURNALISM. THE TASK REQUIRED A LOOK INTO JEWELRY, SPECIFICALLY HIGH-END JEWELRY AND HANDMADE JEWELRY FOLLOWED BY RESEARCH INTO THE HISTORY OF BOTH HIGH-END AND HANDMADE JEWELRY AND HOW THEY CHANGE IN HISTORY.
THE SECOND PART OF THE ESSAY REQUIRED A MADE-UP INTERVIEW WITH A FRIEND IN CHINA WHO DEALT IN HANDMADE JEWELRY, SPECIFICALLY, GOLD AND SILVER HAND-MADE JEWELRY.

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High-End Jewelry and Handmade Jewelry
The jewelry sector is one of the billion-dollar industries across the globe. Jewelry can take up many forms; from head ornament to body and limb ornaments. The industry is also evolving constantly presenting customers with modern and trendy options along with traditional classic pieces. The simple metallic necklace bought at a drug store has evolved to a custom-made diamond and sapphire engagement ring because customers consider more than just the beauty of an item. They consider the cultural significance, the purpose, and cost though most consumers are open to spending more for pieces and brands that they perceive to be worthy. High-end jewelry refers to expensive pieces made from the rarest materials with meticulous craftsmanship. High-end jewelers pride themselves on selling luxury and prestige associated with their brands. On the other hand, handmade jewelry can be either high-end or low-end depending on the materials, time, and methods used. The major characteristic of hand-made jewelry is from the name itself, which means that the jewelry is made purely by hand. High-end and handmade jewelry manufacturers produce unique jewelry to meet the needs of their targeted market segment.
History of High-end and Hand-made Jewelry
Humans have had an inherent desire to enhance their beauty through the use of the finest jewelry, clothing, and cosmetics. This need to adorn the finest jewelry began in ancient times and was common in both men and women. However, Smith found that the use of jewelry over the years has slowly morphed into focusing on women, except for a few beaus (48). The jewelry has also developed through the different stages of civilization. For instance; the discovery of metalwork was a vital stage in jewelry making since it enabled the pieces to become more polished and intricate as the people advanced their metalworking techniques. Jewelry can be worn on the head, breast, limbs, waist, and body. While general changes have been observed in all these pieces of jewelry, there are some similarities in jewelry produced within similar periods in history. Therefore, the jewelry's history is discussed through the classical times, middle age, the renaissance period, and subsequent times.
Early Jewelry
Some of the biggest lessons on jewelry in ancient times are from the Egyptians' culture and traditions of burying their dead. Egyptians believed that they needed to not only preserve their dead as mummies but also, they should have everything that was enjoyed in life available in the tomb, to facilitate their afterlife. This belief explains why Egyptians adorned their dead with elaborate jewelry. For instance, during the discovery of the Tomb of Tutankhamen, a young Pharaoh in Egypt presents the Egyptian use of jewelry in ancient times (Kleiner 42). The Pharaoh was buried in a gold coffin, with his face covered in a gold mask engraved with precious stones (Kleiner 42). In such a case, the jewelry was expensive and elaborate to signify the status of the king as he transitioned into the afterlife. For the poor people, their mummies were adorned with less expensive jewelry made from glass pastes and glazed pottery similar to some products of modern-day hand-made jewelry. The Egyptian jewelry is an example of the classical ancient works of the ancient ages that valued expensive metals, great workmanship, and representation of their beliefs, deities, and magic in the jewelry.
Jewelry in the Middle Ages
Unlike in ancient times, the people in the Middle Age rarely buried their dead with elaborate jewelry, but they had a great impact to advance jewelry. In other words, the middle age was a period of great fashion advancements which influenced advancements in jewelry (Smith, 80). Similar to the ancient ages, jewelry was mostly high-end, from the use of expensive metals like gold and silver. Jewelry was seen as a symbol of wealth, constantly changing hands as a form of money. The ease of malleability to keep up with changing trends and portability compared to other forms of wealth like land made it a preferred investment for most people. The jewelry went through a transition into a more gothic style with forms being more elegant. Precious stones, gems, and enamels were also used more frequently, mimicking the barbaric colorful jewelry in Europe during the ancient ages (Smith 87). Therefore, the Middle age was a period of predominantly hand-made high-value jewelry.
Renaissance Jewelry
Renaissance jewelry was built upon the works of skilled goldsmiths who specialized in jeweled ornaments and paintings. The artists from the rich cities of France like Venice created personal ornaments for their clients who were seeking unique and superior displays of beauty and class. An example of renaissance jewelry is the pendant by Ghirlandaio worn by one of the graces in a portrait (Smith 169). The pendant was made of ruby in a claw setting with beryl and pearls (Smith 169). During the renaissance period, great development was made in jewelry making, with the jewelers paying more attention to intricate details through the use of enamels and gemstones.
Later and Modern Jewelry
The seventeenth century was a turning point in the history of jewelry making. Unlike in the renaissance period, the demand for “joai” jewelry made from mostly stones with minimum metalwork surpassed the demand for “bijouterie” jewelry which was made from gold and enamels (Smith 277). The jewelers required skills in silversmith and the use of diamonds more than they did as a goldsmith. However, it is worth mentioning that the skills in gold and enamel were still appreciated though not in high demand as in the renaissance period. The designs evolved to peapod displays of diamonds, silhouette designs, and finally flowered designs through the use of painted enamels. Jewelry production has evolved over the centuries through new techniques and on-trend designs coupled with the periodic revival of antique and classic pieces. The current jewel industry allows the consumer to choose new designs or to stick to classical designs derived from ancient pieces.
High-End Jewelry and Handmade Jewelry in China
Following an interview with a friend who deals in hand-made silver and gold jewelry in China, this is how the conversation went.
Question 1: There is a lot of research claiming that China is shifting from being mostly a manufacturer to being the consumer of high-end luxury jewelry. What would you say to that?
Answer 1: This is true. Chinese people are more knowledgeable of the available luxury brands and are consuming their own high-end and handmade jewelry more. This can be attributed to urbanization, job creation within the previously low and middle-income cities which allows the people to have more discretionary income to support their appetite for luxury.
Question 2: As a hand-made gold and silver jeweler, have you experienced the increased local demand for your pieces?
Answer 2: Yes. Local demand has been on a steady rise over the years.
Question 3: Would you take us through the creation and purchasing process of your jewelry?
Answer 3: Of course! First, the client has to come in for a consultation where we discuss the concept that I use to design a sketch. Upon approval, I begin the actual work of creating the piece. However, I do create a few pieces of jewelry for display in the shop for the customer who is looking for a ready piece as opposed to a custom-made one that requires more time.
Question 4: Speaking of time, how long does it take you to create a single piece of jewelry?
Answer 4: Time is reliant on the type of piece I am creating, the materials used and the workmanship required. Since there is no use of machinery, the creation process may take longer than usual but the client is guaranteed a one-of-a-kind item.
Question 5: How did COVID-19 affect your business? And how have you had to adapt?
Answer 5: Like most industries, the pandemic caused a steep decline in the usual turnover due to the decline in sales. The consultation and purchasing process shifted to online via our website. At fi

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