Gender and Jewelry: A Feminist Analysis

Rebecca Ross Russell
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Jewelry responds to our most primitive urges, for control, honor, and sex. It is at once the most ancient and most immediate of art forms, one that is defined by its connection and interaction with the body. In this sense it is inescapably political, its meaning bound to the possibilities of the body it lies on. Indeed, the fate of the body is often bound to the jewelry. This study looks at gender and jewelry in order to gain some understanding into how jewelry is constructed by and constructs not just a single society, but human societies. It will explore how societal traditions that have sprung up around jewelry and ornamentation have affected the possibilities available to women across a broad spectrum of social and ethnic circumstances, determining which have served women well and which are constrictive and destructive. It also examines the possibilities for the intentional creation of feminist jewelry, including an overview of the author's own work.
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About the author

Rebecca Ross Russell is a graduate of Tufts University's prestigious combined degree program in conjunction with the School of the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, graduating with a Bachelor's of Fine Arts in metalworking and jewelry and a Bachelor's of Arts with a major in Women's Studies. This project grew out of an ongoing process of questioning the societal underpinnings of her chosen medium, one she has worked in since her early teenage years. It is her deeply held hope that this will serve as an invitation for more critical reflection, from the scholarly community as well as from conscientious jewelers, on the origins of jewelry traditions and on the political and social statements (often unconsciously) conveyed through choice of adornment.
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Additional Information

Rebecca Ross Russell
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Published on
Dec 31, 2010
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Social Science / Women's Studies
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