The future of saleable contemporary jewellery

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Do contemporary jewellery artists make money from selling their jewellery?
The answer for the vast majority of designers/artists working in the field of art jewellery or author jewellery or contemporary jewellery is definitely NO.
Exceptions justify the rule.

Fairs/ Jewellery Weeks/ Bloggers’ Events/ Gallery Shows/ Atelier Open Doors/ Fashion Catwalks/ Designers’ Opens/Commissioned Work by Institutions/ Museums’ Acquisitions/ School-Gallery-Fair Networks/ e-Shops etc. will continue to exist as a means to present contemporary jewellery and sell it.
Needless to say, only the best among the above will prevail.

There are many reasons why work by non established jewellery artists is not met with enthusiasm.

Can jewellery artists afford a living by making innovative jewellery?
Can they afford to invest in new sources of inspiration, namely expanding their educational horizon by reading, visiting collections, following seminars, travelling, spending time experimenting with new techniques, materials and concepts?

Being a professional artist means running a business; and you have to invest first.
To sell your art requires you to make a reputation, prove your value over a long period of time over and over again, manage setbacks and rejections, study again and again, take time to develop your own jewellery language, travel, exhibit, get included in catalogues and books, get nominated for awards, get prizes, network, compromise with PR and publicity, learn to deal with customers, develop social skills, express your ideas in writing, understand the importance of the “human factor” in a business where value is fluid but price fluctuates, create your own career “story” – in other words, invest capital you may not have now or think you may not have now.

ZLR Betriebsimperium has a strong view on the issue.

We believe that shows, fairs, publicity etc. used as “puzzle pieces” to build your ladder to success is good but not enough. We believe that the effort must be extremely precise goal oriented and expand over a period of time, using a variety of knowledge – art, finance, journalism etc. Understanding how peculiar the art market is and how it works is crucial.

Making a name as an artist is as difficult as building a brand that customers will reward with their money, loyalty and enthusiasm to support your work.

The choices you make may help you move in the direction of your dreams or contradict your dreams without you even realizing it. The example of being an academic with a regular, relatively well paid job, but no time for own art is an open secret in our field.

As professional artists and curators, we decided to trigger fruitful thoughts.

Loukia Richards of ZLR Betriebsimperium tried to express the same ideas as an invited lecturer at Zimmerhof Symposium 2014. Time was not ripe then, but it is now.

We plan a. to publish a map depicting market alternatives and the optimal use of the artist’s monetary and intellectual capital and b. to host a series of curated Artist Residencies in Athens – starting in Spring 2018 – combing concept development, specialized workshops, cultural management and curatorial assistence, networking, exhibiting and selling to an international audience.

We will give you more information soon!

ZLR Betriebsimperium is Christoph Ziegler and Loukia Richards.




3 thoughts on “The future of saleable contemporary jewellery

  1. Issue: I’m an owner of some contemporary art jewelry by some established artists, but no longer have room to store it. Any suggestions on how to dispose of it would be appreciated.
    Thank you.


    1. Collectors often resolve this issue by donating part or the whole of their collection to institutions and museums. So in a way, they “keep” it well protected and get credits for their generosity. If you wish to reduce your collection, another suggestion is to sell it; either by organizing a show to highlight its importance and value or through an auction. A third suggestion is to develop a business model to “rent” your jewellery collection. We tried the third suggestion with a group show for Munich Jewellery Week 2016 (“Test Drive 2016”). We had very interesting reactions from the public.


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