25373512414 67e9622d12 o

Our Journal

Beyond Silver: 25 Years of the ACJ

To celebrate its 25th anniversary, the Association of Contemporary Jewellers are holding a conference at University of Exeter, organised by Lecturer and Subject Tutor, Rachel Darbourne. We catch up with Rachel and ask her about this year's diverse programme of speakers.

Five years on from the successful 2017 conference, “20:20 Visions”, which looked at the past, present and future; this year's event shifts perspective to look at the position of contemporary jewellery in a changed society.

Using a translation of Marjan Ungers’s doctoral dissertation, Jewellery in Context: A Multidisciplinary frame-work for the Study of Jewellery, as inspiration, the conference will invite reflection on where contemporary jewellery has bought us in the last 25 years.

Entitled “Beyond Silver: 25 Years of the ACJ” the conference runs from 1 to 3 July 2022 at the University of Exeter’s Peter Chalk Centre, with tickets still available as well as spots to watch the live stream.

Over the course of three days, there will be debate and discussion over a range of concerns that affect jewellery. By posing a number of questions related to contemporary jewellery, and exploring the discipline through specific contextual lenses, the conference hopes to provide a framework that will initiate conversations.

Some of the themes that will be tackled include: Jewellery as a social connector; Jewellery: meanings and messages; Democratising the Field; and Jewellery as Art. Importantly they are also seeking out new voices, giving a platform to students new to research or studying on an MA or PhD in jewellery to discuss their ideas and work so far.

ACJ chair Terry Hunt

AJ Chair Terry hunt addressing the last conference Photo Credit Anastasia Young

Rachel has worked tirelessly as the lead organiser and administrator for the conference, alongside a committee from the ACJ board. Conversations initially started in 2021, centred around Unger’s doctoral thesis, the themes and framework for the conference soon started to emerge. Rachel has scheduled speakers, booked streaming and taken on all aspects of the event management, but it’s not the first time she has organised such an event. 2017 saw her arrange the live participatory project, JUNK: rubbish with Professor Jivan Astfalck and Laura Bradshaw-Heap, as well as the previous 2017 ACJ conference, “20:20 Visions” with Laura Bradshaw-Heap.

Rachel hopes that this year's conference will, “offer an opportunity to meet in person and celebrate our discipline and offer the chance to share knowledge and enthusiasm”. The conference makes a welcome return after a Covid enforced absence, offering an opportunity to reconnect with colleagues and peers, share ideas and project developments and discuss future activities.


Chrome Yellow Books

Sonia from Chrome Yellow Books who specialise in contemporary craft publications.

After the hard work that comes with arranging an event of this size, Rachel is looking forward to being able to enjoy some of the lectures herself. “It is always a pleasure to listen to Professor Astfalck who has a real gift for interweaving thoughts and ideas. Her lectures are always complex, challenging and thought provoking, and in my opinion not to be missed. But I am also looking forward to hearing what everyone has to say. We have a diverse programme of UK based and international speakers planned, which includes senior academics, practising jewellers and recent graduates.”

Fearon Low E Folium II Brooch 2020 Credit Jocelyn Low 1500

Brooch by Ella Fearon Low - Folium II being exhibited as part of the ACJ touring exhibition Meanings and Messages.

Twenty four speakers from around the globe will talk on a range of diverse topics, including Associate Professor Dr Supavee Sirinkraporn and Dr Khajornsak Nakpan (Silpakorn University) on their use of innovative synthesised bio melanin fibre from pre-historic soil to design ethnic contemporary body ornaments which reflect civilization and respect cultural diversity in Pang Ma Pa District, Mae Hong Sorn Province Thailand to Yinglong Li who will deliver a lecture entitled: Sustainability of Traditional Craft: rethinking the knowledge and value of making with the enamelling technique of plique-à-jour. Closer to home the conference will also host Emma Paragreen from Sheffield’s Assay Office on Hallmarking as one of the earliest forms of consumer protection and ACJ chair Terry Hunt, discussing the ACJ touring exhibition of “Meanings and Messages”.

If you are unable to attend the event in person there is still time to book onto the live feed here and you can also see a timetable of speakers and their lectures and find out more about how to attend here.