Yasukazu Suwa: Insights on Jewelry

1. What Is Jewelry? "Fine Jewelry that till Please Generations to Come"


Fifteen years ago, a shop assistant asked me, "There as so many kinds of jewelry for sale in town. How can we tell one type from another? Where is the line between fine jewelry and other types?" At the time, I was at a loss for the answer, but after some thought I have come to this explanation. Jewelry, what we could also call adornments or accessories, is an object we enjoy wearing, and on this level all pieces may appear the same. However, we can divide them into the three following types.

The first type is "gemstone-oriented adornments". These are made to draw out the beauty of gemstones, and are worn and enjoyed again and again, and inherited by the next generation. Examples of this category are large diamond solitaire rings or band rings, which present a line of small diamonds to emphasize their beauty.

Secondly, precious metal adornments made of gold or platinum and utilizing unique shapes as their selling point. They rely on trends in fashion, for particular brands or styles. However, once the trend is over, they fall out of fashion and some are even melted down. With the recent rise in price in precious metals, these precious metal adornments are being re-circulated and re-fashioned as new jewelry.

The third type, such as pieces using stones composed of glass or synthetics, is called costume jewelry. If broken or damaged, most cannot be repaired and are thrown away.

When you choose jewelry, first ask yourself whether it will be inherited, melted down, or discarded at some point. Jewelry of $5,000 may at first seem expensive, but if it is gemstone jewelry, you can wear and enjoy it every day for 50 years. That works out at $100 a year, or 27 cents a day. Moreover, it will continue to exist for many generations to come.

In this column, I would like to share with what I have learnt through my own eyes and with specific examples about the essence of gemstones jewelry, how it should be, and how to enjoy wearing it.