Design Miami /Jewelry Review

By Lucila Garcia

Brooch by Gijs Bakker at Caroline Van Hoek
Brooch by Gijs Bakker at Caroline Van Hoek

When I said this years Design Miami/ would be loaded with jewelry, I meant it! See: Design Miami/ Jewelry Showcase. If you didn’t get around to it, or if you’d like to bask in its abundance for just a little longer, here are Deon Rubi’s highlights.


My all time favorite, top-of-the-list, was Didier Ltd. They have one of the biggest and most varied selections of jewelry made by artists. This means you get the pleasure of a well designed object with all of jewelry’s functions. Plus, the extra bit of creativity and aesthetic that goes beyond precious metals and the usual bling.

Take Louise Nevelson‘s jewelry for example. Not much separates her sculptures and assemblages from her sculptural necklaces, earrings, and brooches. In fact, these pieces are made with the scraps of the scraps she used in her artwork. Granted, she had a jeweler do the metalwork, but she would make him come to her studio to work on it.

Originally, she thought it as a way to promote her work; the jewelry she designed was for personal use, yet the pieces stand on their own as miniature versions of her sculptures. In them, one can recognize her trademark matte black color, her affinity to woodwork, and also concepts of rhythm and composition.


I have to give a shoutout to Didier Ltd for being not only really passionate about what they do, but for also being so laid back and open to sharing their wealth. They were so engaging in conversation about the work and even let me hold some pieces for close inspection.


Strewn about the fair were lots of pieces by one of my favorite modernist jeweler, Art Smith. Active in Greenwich Village in NYC during the 40’s to the 70’s, and an active supporter of black and gay civil rights, an avid jazz enthusiast, and a supporter of early black modern dance groups, he was a favorite among the fashion and art crowd.

A Cooper Union attendee, Smith’s work consists of organic shapes, modernist compositions, and massive statement pieces. Art Smith had a real understanding of the human body, and designed accordingly, staying true to the essence of jewelry as an art form, and not solely adapting ideas of art to his work.

I was a bit disappointed with Carlos Cruz Diez’s On/Site booth at Elisabetta Cipriani. Although a fan of Cruz Diez’s artworks, I felt the design of the jewelry didn’t do justice to his signature op-art, and the op-art didn’t interact well with the integral design of the jewelry. However, these things must be looked at in context, having been done in the seventies as keepsakes for friends and family. I can still be appreciative of his attempt at a crossover, art jewelry needs all of its soldiers to keep making its way into the art world and to maintain its presence at such high end events like Design/Miami.

Necklace by Carlos Cruz-Diez at Elisabetta Cipriani
Necklace by Carlos Cruz-Diez at Elisabetta Cipriani

The best surprise came from Ornamentum Gallery, based in Hudson, NY.  One of the few galleries that dealt mostly with contemporary design, and by contemporary I mean right now. They had an overwhelming selection of work by established and up-and-coming jewelry artists from across the globe. I spoke to them briefly to discover that they are in a process of narrowing down their selection to the best of the best, meaning more conceptual work, less decorative fluff, which makes sense if you want to really shine from the rest. My favorite pieces were cast aluminum rings by Karl Fritsch, with embedded rubies, diamonds, and the like. The use of aluminum, which is a considerably light metal, allows him to make massive rings that don’t weigh a ton, but still look incredibly rich.

Rings by Karl Fritsch at Ornamentum
Rings by Karl Fritsch at Ornamentum

All I can say is that it sucks not having access to jewelry at this level all year round, but I am so grateful to all the galleries that made it to Design/Miami, and to the fair itself, for bringing art jewelry to the lucky masses that were able to attend. I can’t wait to do this again next year, and until then, I will do my best to keep you informed in the latest happenings, both locally and internationally, on rebel artists and sculptors known as art jewelers and their finest creations.