Touch and "See"

In previous posts I’ve delved into the different ways that jewellery can hold meaning. I’ve touched on the symbolism it can carry, the connections it can forge across generations and geographic distance, and the memories it can evoke. One aspect I haven’t really spent much time thinking out is feelings: how does a piece of jewellery make you feel, and what does it actually feel like to touch? It wasn’t until an experience I had recently that I realized how very important these are to creating strong and engaging designs.

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Seeing a piece of jewellery that you may associate with a person, place, or some fond memory will certainly elicit some sort of emotional response. But imagine you couldn’t actually see the jewellery, you could only feel it. Is it weightless, or can you sense the weight of it against your skin? Do you notice your long drop earrings swing playfully back and fourth? Your ring, does it serve as a source of comfort when you mindlessly fidget with it, and spin it around your finger?

Sometimes I don’t want to be able to notice a bold pair of earrings weighing down on my earlobes, I just want to wear something light and comfortable. Other times, that weight on my ears prompts a skip in my step and makes me feel fancy. In touching the earrings, are they rough and textured, smooth and soft? Does how the jewellery physical feels to touch enhance your experience of wearing it?

All these thoughts flooded my mind after a recent experience I had meeting a woman who is blind at a local craft show. The woman took her time to explore a number of pieces at my booth. Her hands moved carefully over the smooth silver, following the soft curves and repetitive forms found among many of my designs. Although she could not physically see the pieces, I found it fascinating to hear her reaction to which pieces she was most drawn to. It was not how shiny or snazzy a piece was to look at, it was how it felt that determined her favourite. This woman’s experience of my jewellery is beyond what I can ever comprehend, but it prompted me to think about the experience of wearing jewellery in a whole new way. 

I’ll be honest, later that day I held a few pieces of jewellery in my hands with my eyes closed. I tried to imagine touch being the only sense I could use to experience it. I didn’t do this exercise from a standpoint of ignorance because I know I will never know how my jewellery made the woman standing at my booth feel. It was instead from a place of curiosity and intrigue. I quickly came to realize that touch is absolutely a factor that needs great consideration in the design of jewellery. It’s like choosing a mug for your morning coffee. I could have the most ornate and beautifully coloured mug, but my coffee experience will be far more superior when drinking from a mug that has a perfect glaze that is soft to touch, and has a handle that fits comfortably in my hands. 

I’m currently working on designing a new collection that will be coming out in the next couple of months. This time, I’ve been pausing every now and then throughout the design process to focus in on feelings, both physical and emotional.

Thanks for reading.