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Digital meets handmade international jewelry symposium.

Jewelry Sympoisum may 15 through 17, 2018.


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A partnership between the Fashion Institute of Technology and Politecnico di Milano

Join us for three days of discussion surrounding jewelry design and manufacturing. There has been a seismic shift in jewelry design and manufacturing in recent years. As digital design and model making have speeded up the process, they have proven themselves invaluable as tools of the trade. But every tool, hand-held or digital—leaves its mark. This symposium will provide an arena for debate on how digital technology and making by hand duel for influence in the aesthetics, the use, and the cultural contexts of jewelry as both a manufactured product and as an applied art form.

The discussion will not only be oriented to the outcome of different crafting procedures, but it is intended to propose reflection on the production and distribution processes for jewelry. The implications “digital vs handmade" in social context will be explored. The question of how the integration of digital technology effects sustainability will be examined—both in manufacturing, and in how if effects the perceived value of the jewelry—monetarily and as art. And finally, the symposium is intended to foster debate and research in the didactics of jewelry as an applied art, through of critical analysis and discovery. ​


The term “handmade” refers to a manual process, to the creation of a non-industrial product, therefore forged through the use of hands. In particular the inquiry concerns the entirely hand-crafted jewelry, traditionally resulting from the abilities of the artisan-demiurge to shape the matter starting from an idea. Regardless of whether it is the product made by traditional or post-digital craftsmen, the handiworked-piece of jewelry is the result of a long process of trials and errors, that requires study, precision and continuous experimental application in order to reach remarkable results. The handmade quality in fact is achieved not only through precision and attention to details, but also through the uniqueness of the manufactured object, the time spent by the artisan in crafting it. The craftsmanship is therefore the outcome of a constant striving between handwork and creativity, traditional repertoire and innovative techniques, use of precious materials and material experimentations. ​


The deployment of digital technologies had such a great impact on the society that it has been defined as an authentic revolution. Today indeed it is possible to design, to produce, to distribute and to communicate through the web: this has drastically changed the relationship among designer, product, production and final consumer. In this context the word “Digitalcraft” refers to a varying production process, that combine hand and mind to digital media. The integration among new technologies and craftsmanship has also involved the jewelry sector: productive methods and tools have been adapted from industrial reality to the collective practices of the designer-makers. These new digital artisans share productive technologies and creative processes thorough the internet, in an integrated system of mutual connections. Open source technology, algorithmic models, laser cutting machines and additive manufacturing allow to produce products with a high level of complexity and definition, custom made pieces, starting from a digital file.


  • How does digital design and manufacturing influence and intermesh with contexts for jewelry in cultures around the world?
  • Can (or should) the distinctive “tool mark” of digital design and 3D printing overtake the reverence for hand craftsmanship in the perceived quality of jewelry?
  • As many designers, artisans, and manufacturers begin to integrate digital and handmade in their jewelry production, how will valuation be effected and measured?
  • What role does the education of play in the evolution of best practices in design and manufacturing, digital and handmade? Is a hybrid approach viable in the 21st century?

Call for Abstracts

Deadline: February 15, 2018
Symposium Abstract Submission Form (.doc)

Authors are invited to submit an abstract in one of the following tracks:

  1. Jewelry Handcraft
  2. Digital Jewelry
  3. New Scenarios for Handcraft Design
  4. New Scenarios for Digital Design

The language of the conference is English and submissions must be in English. Submissions will be published in the proceedings if (at least one of) the authors register to the conference to present the work. Submissions that do not comply with the submission rules will be excluded from the evaluation process and proceedings publication. The abstract should be no longer than 500 words and it should include the main bibliographical references.

Complete the form linked above and send it to digitalvshandmade@gmail.com. Notification of acceptance will be made on March 15, 2018.