Titanium. Niobium. Copper. Metal clay. Acrylic. Resin. It isn’t the usual materials inventory for jewelry makers. For millennia, jewelry has been made of gold and silver, platinum and gems — materials the market understands and readily accepts.

But what about non-traditional materials?

An unusual palette demands more from the artist because the piece must stand on its artistic merits alone; there’s no fallback on intrinsic value to make a sale. The endeavor may sound risky, but it’s a risk that many artists are willing to take to express themselves through the use on non-traditional materials.

“I don’t expect to ever be in the precious metals and gems category,” says Noël Yovovich of Evanston , Illinois . “Most of that work is more conventional, and I’m just not interested in more conventional stuff. I’m an artist who happens to make jewelry.”

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For these artists, the market’s unfamiliarity with the material is part of the appeal. “When someone wants to buy a piece from me, they’re buying it because they really appreciate what I’ve done to it,” says Karen McCreary of Long Beach, California. “They appreciate the design, and it’s not about the fact that it’s got a 1 carat diamond or it’s 18k gold.”

The four artists featured in this article push the boundaries of traditional jewelry design. From unusual sources, they create works of art — small, wearable sculptures that appeal to a wide variety of consumers.

  1. Noël Yovovich – Seeing titanium in a new light
  2. Joan Dulla – Promoting respect for niobium
  3. Ivy Solomon – Marrying metal clay and resin
  4. Karen Mccreary – Mystifying acrylic