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Studying jewelry is a window into the history of cultures. Jewelry is the most personal of adornments and has signifcance in our lives.
Studying jewelry is a window into the history of cultures. Jewelry is the most personal of adornments and has signifcance in our lives.
167 backers pledged $11,761 to help bring this project to life.

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We are creating a documentary film on the study of the history of jewelry. It’s probably something you never thought about but…

Did you know that:

--the earliest known jewelry is 100,000 years old?


--during many wars precious metals were in short demand and jewelry was made of alternative materials?

--the Victorians mounted hummingbird heads as jewelry? And Brazilian beetles?

--many cultures wear jewelry to ward off evil spirits?


--the famed jewelry firm of Cartier bought the townhouse where their headquarters is located in New York City by trading the owner for an incredible necklace of natural pearls? (Natural pearls are rare today since cultured pearls arrived on the scene circa 1900.)

--that diamonds can naturally be found in many colors?

--that in earlier times men wore more jewelry than women?


--that Harry Winston mailed the famed Hope Diamond to the Smithsonian Institute by U.S. Mail?  And that it was walked to the White House in a gentleman’s pants pocket for the Shah of Iran to see?


These fascinating facts are just a very small part of what you might learn if you study the history of jewelry. We view jewelry studies as a "window" into the history of the world and a fun way to learn about our own and other cultures.

Jewelry is not only a form of adornment and self-expression, it is a part of one's family history, and a form of portable wealth. Its ownership is intricately involved in our lives.

And anyone can join in learning...it doesn't take a lot of specialized knowledge to understand this fascinating subject. If you are interested in fashion, world events, anthropology, art, archaeology—any number of subjects—you can relate to learning about jewelry.

Our personal jewelry does many things—represents the happiest and sometimes the saddest moments in our lives, can signal our achievements, tell others where we went to college, indicates our religious beliefs, and can even relay our sense of fun. It can tell others, without a word, how we view ourselves.

It is so universal that if two women who don't know each other stand in an elevator one may comment on the other's jewelry.

The Association for the Study of Jewelry and Related Arts
, LLC (ASJRA) is an organization dedicated to the advancement of jewelry studies. ASJRA takes a broad approach to the subject, seeking to understand and place jewelry within a variety of contexts, including costume, the decorative arts, and fine art among others.

We publish Adornment, the Magazine of Jewelry and Related Arts (a quarterly), an extensive monthly newsletter on everything that is happening in the jewelry world, and organize an annual conference as a forum for curators, historians, researchers, and artists to present new and interesting
information about jewelry.

My co-director Yvonne Markowitz and I also consider it our mission to encourage the inclusion of courses in jewelry history at the college and graduate level for both applied jewelry students and decorative arts majors and provide aid to institutions in that pursuit. It promotes the development of study programs for jewelry design and jewelry history students at museums.

ASJRA is also working to make available previously inaccessible publications and information for educators, researchers, and collectors.

But right now we are, “preaching to the choir.” Our members know how exciting it is to delve into centuries of jewelry lore as well keep an eye on the inventive and unique contemporary jewelry being made today by studio artists and important fine jewelry firms.

This film will help a much wider audience gain an appreciation of how much can be learned and how interesting learning more about jewelry can be.

Documentary film maker Nicolas Cuellar, producer Harris Karlin, and Elyse Zorn Karlin, the co-director of ASJRA,  have teamed up to educate the public on the story of jewelry and its place in our lives in the film "A Story to Wear." We invite you to support this documentary film and get some great rewards to show our appreciation for your donation.

Once the film is completed it will be available to any organization with an interest in jewelry to show to its members, as well as to colleges and universities that have metals' programs (jewelry making) and art history courses. We will also put it online so the general public can enjoy and learn from it as well. Help us tell the world about a subject that touches all of our lives without us realizing it...think about what your favorite piece of jewelry is and what it means to you!

Nicolas and Harris have extensive credits in the film world and Elyse is a well-known jewelry historian, author, lecturer and freelance curator. Together we will create a film to bring the fascinating world of jewelry to everyone.

Brooch photo courtesy of Linda Caristo.

Risks and challenges

Our biggest challenge will to keep the film on schedule...we hope to finish by spring or summer 2013. We are going to be working with diverse people to present a balanced story and scheduling them for interviewing with their busy schedules and still manage to shoot in several venues in one city in a short time (we can't afford to pay the crew for extra days) will be a challenge.

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Funding period

- (30 days)