Coprolite Amulet

(Click on an image to enlarge it.)

November, 2015
Sterling silver, coprolite, garnets
24 cm x 14 cm x 1.2 cm
(HxWxD; measured at the thickest point.)

This is the necklace that I made for my MFA thesis at the University of Massachusetts: Dartmouth. The following is a section of my written thesis which pertains to this piece:

When I was doing research on historical necklaces, I came across the talisman given to King Charlemagne in 801 CE: it was a large, gold, disc-shaped thing the size of a hockey puck with fifty-three sizable, precious gemstones set all over it. In the center there were two splinters of the true cross (which were tied together to form a cross themselves) sandwiched between two giant sapphire cabochons. Throughout my research I found countless other necklaces given to monarchs and other royalty, however there was something about this one in particular that really stood out to me. In thinking about it, I realized that the whole purpose of this talisman was to showcase the religious artifact housed within it, and that ornamentation and material usage helped lend validity to it. This inspired me to create an amulet of my own, except the item housed in the center of mine would not be a religious artifact of any sort—it would be a raw chunk of coprolite.

 
 

Each element of my necklace serves to embellish and lend credence to this fossil. The texture along the silver rim radiates from (and points to) the center, four garnets sit in line with each prong at all four cardinal directions, and the pierced silver which the coprolite sits upon follows its rough outline and terminates in a cross-like shape known as a Cross Pattée: an incredibly prolific and distinguishable icon which has been used throughout history by royalty and the ruling classes. By utilizing the language of ornamentation, well established iconography, a precious metal, and an appropriate degree of craftsmanship, I have bolstered the notion that this fossil is something important, and imparted a sense of value upon it. This piece is about presenting my esoteric view of what I find valuable, but in a way it is also about humorously subverting expectations through the juxtaposition of an uncanny material within a traditional framework. At the same time, this necklace also parodies historical jewelry in a rather tongue-and-cheek fashion.