Japanese art jewelry is a great artistic field that is scandalously little known outside of small creative circles. But there are many reasons why people should be paying closer attention!
Conceived with an array of diverse materials and techniques, Japanese art jewelry is often inspired by traditional craft roots such as washi paper and gold leaf. They are more like miniature sculptures that speak of personal memories and time-honed skill; but at the same time they are extremely wearable!
What’s also important about Japanese art jewelry is that a lot of these exceptional designers are women. Japanese society is still quite traditional in some ways, and jewelry design is one industry that professional women have reshaped on their own terms.
We have selected 10 outstanding examples of art jewelry by these ingenious women designers. The artistry of each piece is truly inspirational for everyone!
Nahoko Fujimoto's Jewelry Shares a Dear Memory
Japanese jewelry designer Nahoko Fujimoto interprets her personal memories to design jewelry that is not only stunning but also culturally significant.
This pleated ring is inspired by one of Fujimoto’s fondest childhood memories of attending Tanabata, the annual ‘Star Festival’. This summer event features an abundance of paper decorations with inscriptions of personal wishes from the attendees.
This unique paper is used exclusively for Tanabata. Fujimoto transforms this paper into a dramatic sculptural 3D design that says a lot about what makes art jewelry so special: a great design requires both artistic expression and fine craftsmanship!
Check out Alternatives Gallery at alternatives.it for more of Fujimoto’s stunning creations.
Kazumi Nagano Composes Wearable Art
If an artist could paint in three dimensions, perhaps it would look like this!
Art jewelry designer Kazumi Nagano was a student of Nihonga (Japanese style) painting before she became interested in jewelry. By combining threads of various textures – precious metals, silk, nylon and paper – she creates the illusion of brushstrokes forming these softly shimmering pieces.
Nagano’s work is on display in many illustrious collections, including London’s prestigious Victoria and Albert Museum.
Discover Mariko Kumioka's Commemorative Jewelry
This thought-provoking piece is entitled Pray for Kumamoto, referring to the devastating earthquake there in April 2016.
For this brooch, contemporary art jewelry designer Mariko Sumioka uses the imagery of Japanese religion to express her solidarity with those who suffered. The hanging panels on this brooch are Ema. Worshippers use these wooden boards to record their wishes, before hanging them on a rack within the grounds of a Shinto shrine.
Sumioka’s unique art jewelry is inspired by traditional features of Japanese architecture and cultural landscape. Visit her website marikosumioka.com for more.
Reconsider the Value of Jewelry with Mirei Takeuchi
This pair of dragonfly earrings by Mirei Takeuchi reveals the surprising truth about the preciousness of jewelry.
What is the value of jewelry? To many the answer to this question rests on the price of precious stones. But Takeuchi’s earrings are a striking example that challenges this outdated view.
Carved from a single piece of iron with laser technology, the astonishing intricacy of these dragonfly wings can only be realized through meticulous precision and impeccable accuracy. Takeuchi utilizes the highest standard of craftsmanship to achieve an impressive feat of artistic expression.
Jewelry’s value should never be just about prized jewels; it is a significant artistic field where creativity and artistry must take center stage. Takeuchi’s art reminds us to appreciate jewelry for its many stunning possibilities!
Kazuko Nishibayashi’s Jewelry Ties Together Negative Space
Like a fine architect, Kazuko Nishibayashi designs not just the sophisticated form of her jewelry, but also the space within.
Through this emphasis on curated space, Nishibayashi’s seamless structured jewelry takes on an unmatched lightness and fluidity.
Check out more works from this Düsseldorf-based artist at kaz-ni.de.
Inspired by Japanese art jewelry? You have to read this article to discover another 8 artworks by these amazing artists!:
Kazuko Mitsushima’s Glass Jewelry Breaks New Ground
When Kazuko Mitsushima began working with glass it was considered a poor imitation of jewels. But she refused to be restricted, and persevered through years of careful experimentation to create these unique pieces that in many ways surpass the limitations of precious stone.
This particular work pairs a lacquer-black glass ring with a lagoon-blue opal. Mitsushima uses the natural irregularity of the glass material to craft this elegant and intriguing piece.
View more of Mitsushima’s creativity at the Gallery Deux Poissons in Tokyo.
Tokyo has many world-class museums featuring must-see Japanese artworks. Check out this art guide about Roppongi Art Triangle for some of our top picks:
Aya Nakayama’s Seamless Kumihimo Jewelry
Japanese jewelry designer Aya Nakayama designs this stunning fusion of silk and metal jewelry by reviving centuries-old craftsmanship.
Kimihimo is an ancient Japanese technique for making silk braids. The elegant colorful patterns are traditionally achieved using a marudai, a circular weaving stand, that produces exceptionally intricate results.
In order to adapt this unique craft to jewelry, Nakayama had to solve the critical problem of fusing metal and silk together. After spending 30 years perfecting this seamless art, it is safe to say that her uncompromising effort has been an inspiring success!
Tomoyo Hiraiwa Recasts Japanese Sculpture as Art Jewelry
Tomoyo Hiraiwa is inspired in her art both by the natural environment, and by Japan’s rich history of metal sculpture.
Hiraiwa’s art jewelry has the unusual ability to suggest the softness of organic form without sacrificing the raw metallic texture of the material.
Gold has always been rare in the Japanese islands, so was traditionally applied sparingly in very thin leaves to emphasize the object’s original essence. The rustic application of gold leaf to this irregular spiral bracelet conveys a distinctively Japanese aesthetic.
Find out more from this artist at tomoyohiraiwa.com.
Zen is another great influence in Japanese art. Don't miss out your chance to read about the best art-crafts in the Japanese tea ceremony:
Akiko Kurihara Finds Humor in Art Jewelry
Had you considered that jewlery is not just about glamour, but can be witty and irreverent too?
By subverting the conventionality of jewelry design, Akiko Kurihara’s whimsical ‘Bomb’ earrings engage with the wearer like good friends conversing - creating an emotional bond that is long-lasting and meaningful.
We should always pay more attention to designers who strive beyond functionality or mere marketability: good design has to be inspiring!
Can’t get enough of Akiko Kurihara’s thought-provoking designs? Check out her works @akiko_kurihara.
Takako Komiya’s Exceptional Jewelry Philosophy
Takako Komiya is always pushing new grounds. This sculptural ring, the Castle in the Air, is an example of her latest effort to connect contemporary jewelry to a wider audience.
Komiya explains ‘for me, jewelry is something that should and could be worn every day so I started to find ways to seamlessly combine artistic jewelry with simpler, everyday designs.’
As the chair of the Japan Jewellery Designers’ Association, and a devoted teacher, Takako Komiya imparts her 40 years of exceptional knowledge in jewelry design to future generations.
We just love this impeccably designed ring, and her admirable quest to make the Japanese art jewelry scene a more inclusive and inspiring place.
Komiya’s work is available at Alternatives Gallery at alternatives.it.
Intrigued? Delighted? Questions? We would love to hear your thoughts in the comments below!