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Atlanta Contemporary Jewelry Show co founder Debra Lynn Gold curates a winner

Crafting a beautiful piece of wearable art is a skill metal smith Debra Lynn Gold has honed most of her life. Gold, who, perhaps ironically, mostly works with sterling silver, extended her skills to also artfully creating the annual Atlanta Contemporary Jewelry Show with friend and fellow Atlanta-based artist Leigh Griffin. In early November, thousands of enthusiastic connoisseurs converge on The Carter Center for the invitational event, which features the work of 30 artisans from around the country. “Atlanta is a very sophisticated audience,” says the 66-year-old Buckhead resident. “We’re very lucky. You can’t produce a show like this without an appreciative audience.”

What was the inspiration, and why did you feel the show would fulfill a need?

Leigh and I started talking about how people come to art shows and only look at the jewelry. There is tremendously exciting work going on in other media, but people who are interested in artist-made jewelry are very distinctive. So we said, “Why don’t we do a show that’s all jewelry?”

Are most of the participating artists from Atlanta?

There have been local artists, but I’m pretty sure there’s only one this year. A lot of the artists we invite wouldn’t have their work seen anywhere else in Atlanta. We strive for that uniqueness to provide an opportunity for out-of-town artists to come and for Atlantans to see their phenomenal work.

Can you explain “contemporary jewelry art”?

It’s using traditional techniques, but with a contemporary aesthetic. The artists have a personal vision, and it’s not manufactured. It’s handcrafted jewelry by artists who take the same approach as artists in other media. The work happens to be wearable as well, which makes it, in my opinion, doubly exciting.

Will there be anything for the entry-level collector?

Earrings might start at $100 on the lower end. Usually people find something that fits their budget. One exciting thing is the percentage of people who leave the show with a new acquisition. They come to look, but they inevitably find something they have to take home.

Do prices go up from there?

Absolutely. On the other end, if you’re planning your engagement, you can get something unique. There are jewelry galleries in town where you can see a lot of work, but you certainly don’t have access to the artists themselves.

What trends are you seeing in what jewelry artists are producing?

The first thing that comes to mind is a difference of materials. We’ve got artists coming in who use powder-coated steel, which is crazy because it’s such an industrial material, and yet they’re doing beautiful work. This amazing artist from Vermont works with meteorite and incorporates traditional materials, too, so you’ll see meteorite with gold and diamonds, for instance. There’s another who works in titanium, and everything is meticulously thought out with layers stacked up with spacers and rivets. It looks oddly mechanical.

How would you describe your own wearable art?

I like to say they are spatially constructed pieces that employ movement, a degree of playfulness and usually some kind of unexpected component. The material is primarily sterling with accents of colored aluminum and some gemstones.


STORY: Jennifer Bradley Franklin
Photo: Nikki Crohn

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