SMALL COLLECTIONS NURTURE JEWELRY
JEWELRY ARTIST JUAN HARNIE REVEALS HIS SECRETS OF SELECTING
Interview by Loukia Richards
Cicada brooch by Maärta Mattsson. Photo: Ronnie Harnie.
"A piece should grab our attention visually. A good concept can make a piece better, but it is not what attracts us in the first place. Wearing jewelry is a true conversation starter and, even now, a lot of people have still never seen contemporary jewelry."
LR: What is your jewelry collection's central theme?
JH: The biggest part of our collection is made out of brooches that both my boyfriend and I can wear. It's not the typical collection with a lot of huge names or expensive pieces. The pieces share several characteristics, such as the overall color scheme, interesting textures, wearability. Jewelry should also be damage-proof and well-made. A lot of pieces in our collection – and my own jewelry – are made of non-precious materials. I love to discover new techniques and see what others have discovered too.
Paul Derrez, various objects. Photo: Juan Harnie.
LR: How do you feel when an artist whose work you bought for a low sum or swapped becomes famous?
JH: I do keep an eye on several artists thanks to Instagram and I follow – online and offline – the activities of artists we collect. However, we don't collect as an investment. Of course, it is wonderful to see when an artist, whose piece you bought when they just graduated gets a lot of recognition and even wins prizes. On the other hand, it is deeply sad to see an artist you love struggling to make ends meet and even quit making jewelry.
Copper brooch by Elisa Cazzaniga. Photo: Juan Harnie.
LR: How can artists influence the value and price of their work?
JH: Be realistic! I don't go extremely high with the price of my designs either. Gallerists will tell you what percentage of the selling price they take. If you sell your pieces cheaper on your website or at a fair, there is no way a gallery will see you as an interesting partner. Recent graduates should be aware that they are not yet well-known.
LR: How do you promote your collection?
JH: Besides wearing jewelry as much as possible, I also present our collection on Instagram as The Jewelry Update. Most collections that are exhibited are way bigger or older than ours, and I think it would be interesting to show a starting collection too. I think a lot of people have a collection at home, but don't realize it. These small collections should be shown as much as possible so others can see how accessible contemporary jewelry can be!
"I've acquired some great new pieces by trading with other designers. Years ago, a well-known designer told me she would not be able to afford her own jewelry. Designers can wear each other's pieces and promote them. I'm always astonished that at a jewelry exhibition opening, some of the designers are barely wearing any..."