Jewelry and Sentiment
Exploring the emotional connections between individuals and their jewelry
Art, Design, Ethnography, Prototyping, Shared Value
I began my project with the belief that jewelry was somehow able to embody our emotions and feelings in ways that other objects often cannot. To explore my assumptions I began speaking to people about their jewelry collections and highlighting certain pieces of the deepest emotional value. The people I spoke to shared beautiful stories with me about their pieces and the memories and associations they formed with the piece. Some had their jewelry passed down for multiple generations, unmodified since. While others had jewelry that was meaningful to them because of who they received it from and how it made them feel to wear it.
After collecting many beautiful stories from people regarding their most prized jewelry possessions, I was driven to pivot my project towards seeking a problem space. My participants previously expressed that after sharing their stories with me and mindfully reflecting on the importance of their items, they felt a sense of calm and gratitude. So I decided to use a cultural design probe to better understand how people stored and cared for their jewelry. From the information collected at this step, I was able to finally define some clear problem spaces. I found that my participants who wore their sentimental jewelry often, didn’t know the proper ways to clean and care for their heirlooms and they felt badly for it. While some of my other participants were afraid to wear the jewelry outside, and often let it be forgotten and stored out of sight. These findings led me to my first prototype.
My initial prototype was a paper based care ceremony developed to mirror my cultural probe. This was aimed directly at alleviating the two problem spaces I had discovered.
At the start of the guide there is a care and cleaning process with a soaking stage, this is when the participants are urged to move to the reflective journaling pages of the guide before finally returning to scrub their jewelry clean.
My second prototype, “Meaningful Materialist”, an extension of the ceremony sheets, is a website designed to behave as a living library of stories where people can participate in the same experience as they would with the sheets, accompanied by music and add their own photos. This creates a space for people to reflect and with permission, posts their stories for others to appreciate as well. Creating a library of stories, reflections and beautiful pieces that we can all relate to and draw parallels in our own lives.
Learn more about the students:
Stephanie Kock: https://www.parsonsbba.com/sp21-studentprofiles/stephanie-kock