Combustible Brooch

(Click on an image to enlarge it.)

March, 2016
Sterling silver, anthracite, diamonds, stainless steel
4.6cm x 4.2cm x 1.6cm
(HxWxD; measured at the thickest point.)

This brooch is the successor to the coal brooch that I made months before. As you can see, this version is a lot less tame. The following is a section of the written thesis which relates to this piece:

It might seem a bit cliché, but I feel that there is a lot to be said about the comparison between diamonds and coal. Most people know that the two of them are related to one another through a common thread, namely carbon, but that is usually where the well-known similarities end. However, the truth of the matter is that these two are more alike than that, as they both see heavy use within industrial applications. Contrary to what the gem industry would have you believe, diamonds are not all that rare; lower quality “industry grade” diamonds are actually quite plentiful. These diamonds lack the clarity, color, and sparkle of their “jewelry quality” counterparts, but aside from their dull, opaque appearance they are still the same stone. Since diamonds are one of the hardest substances known to man, it should come to no surprise that they are used as an abrasive when cutting, drilling, and grinding.

Coal on the other hand is known for its ability to produce energy when heated, which makes it an ideal fuel source. That is not doing it justice however, as coal has historically been one of the most important fuel substances, as it brought about the industrial revolution and literally fueled the rapid development of civilization for hundreds of years. They are also both surrounded in a myriad of controversy at the moment, with coal being condemned for its impact on the environment and diamonds for the questionable ethics employed by the companies who mine it.

However, there is one very major thing that sets diamonds apart from coal, and that is its heavy use in jewelry; many consider these sparkly lumps of carbon to be the pinnacle of gem craft—coal on the other hand almost never leaves its original, pragmatic state. This brooch serves to provide an exception to that rule, as it takes both of these materials out of their utilitarian contexts and puts them into a purely ornamental one. It seeks to subvert diamond’s unquestionable, dogmatic presence within the jewelry, as they are haphazardly sprinkled along the surface of the coal, like some kind of growth or rash, and they do not compliment the composition in any meaningful way. In this brooch, the coal takes center stage: it is bold, lustrous, and left unapologetically raw. The brooch’s design is influenced by this rawness, with the silver backing following its outline and the placement of the prongs being dependent on the location of the many peaks and valleys which occur on the surface. This brooch both draws parallels between and highlights the differences of these two materials, and in a way it also elevates a material which I believe to be taken for granted.