Jewelry and Metalsmithing
Our early ancestors made shells into beads and began to adorn them 100,000 years ago, making jewelry the earliest known art form and central to the beginning of human culture.
Jewelry is a uniquely portable form of art. Intimate in scale, it can be easily displayed in public places and doesn’t rely on the museum or gallery to be seen.
Students find fertile ground for their ideas by exploring concepts addressing identity, the body, value, desire, power, beauty, and other concepts significant in jewelry.
The field of jewelry/metals today encompasses a wide variety of metalworking and non-metals processes for making jewelry, sculpture, vessels, mixed-media works, installations, and more. Purdue’s jewelry/metals studio is equipped for the basic processes of soldering, casting, enameling, etching, forging, raising, stone-setting, rubber mold-making, resins, patinas, electroforming, and anodizing. An extraordinary variety of materials, from powerfully symbolic to delicate and ephemeral, have historically been used in jewelry/metals and this mixed media exploration is encouraged.
Students are encouraged to participate in Purdue’s active jewelry/metals club (PAJAMA), which holds a sale of members work at the end of every semester. As well as giving students a chance to practice their entrepreneurial skills, a portion of the funds generated from each sale supports student attendance at national conferences and hosts visiting artist lectures and workshops.
Careers for arts professionals include producing, exhibiting, and marketing one-of-a-kind or limited edition work through shops, galleries, and museums; fine jewelry industry in repair and custom design work, or retail sales, and business owner. Some students go on to an MFA program to further their study and may eventually go on to teach.