Jewellery is an independent medium at the intersection of applied and fine arts. It has very specific visual and conceptual possibilities. In the Jewellery Department, research and experiment are conducted into the potential and the scope of jewellery as a medium and into exploring jewellery as an attitude.
By exploring the attitude that lies at the heart of jewellery, the Rietveld Academie takes a strong position in saying that a jewellery attitude does not necessarily have to lead to jewellery design.
Grasping and defining the jewellery attitude not only helps to position contemporary jewellery in relation to contemporary art and culture (arts, fashion, and design) but also — and probably more importantly — it allows for a more precise formulation and extrapolation of what future jewellers are good at and what their praxis could look like. It strengthens their identity and gives space for new activities both within and outside of the jewellery context. Students are challenged to approach a wide range of issues and projects in a jewellery-related manner. This manner is obviously not predefined. It is up to the student to give character and meaning to this. During their studies, students learns to position themselves and their work within a given or self-generated field or context. This allows them to work within any given field or context, applying their own and authentic methods, signature and knowledge.
The multidisciplinary team of instructors supervises the students and organises the curriculum. The curriculum has its roots in fundamental jewellery issues such as adorning and expression, identity, and identification, the human body, the relationship of maker-jewellery-wearer, the sign, signal, and message, mass production versus the unique art piece, craft and technology, classic techniques, new materials and natural resources, the history of trade and the emergence of monetary systems, and jewellery as art in the public sphere versus the intimate.
The focus on these topics in combination with the specific and highly personal way of making, translating and thinking is what distinguishes the jeweller. As an outcome of this experimental and research-based approach the course is not limited to particular materials and the student’s research may be expressed by means of various media in 2D or 3D. In addition, students may use performance, photography, sculpture, video and other forms of expression.
The aim is for the student to learn to reflect on his work and be able to connect the work to the outside world. To be able to present, clarify and defend the work is vital. During the first year and for part of the second specialist year, the student works primarily within the framework of assignments and thematic projects in order to gain substantive, formal and technical experience. The student will learn to work with various materials and techniques, as well as gaining basic knowledge about the traditional field of work. During the graduation year, the student realises a concept of his or her own choice, which is then exhibited in public in order to evaluate its visual, philosophical and technical merits. The students who join the department are expected to display an independent, open and mature attitude towards their studies.