Copying. This is an issue I’ve seen arise again and again in the jewelry community. I’ve seen it handled well, but I’ve also seen it confronted in the most combative and immature of ways for reasons seemingly grounded in arrogance and projections. I’ve seen the worst offenders point the finger. I am not one to believe that something like using the same chain, or patina, or type of stone is copying, and frankly I think these kinds of accusations can turn into nothing but witch hunts. For these reasons, I’ve generally hesitated to comment on the matter.
However, lately I have noticed some of those with access to my body of work coming eerily close to my designs. Too close to be coincidental. Even with the understanding that I am not the first person to do certain things and that I am not the only person operating within a particular aesthetic, these incidences have been so blatant that I haven’t been the only one to notice. This has been occurring for months, maybe longer. I’ve seen many designs ripped off by other jewelers (jewelers who see my work – I am not searching the depths of the internet for this and pointing the finger at those who have probably never even seen my designs, on the contrary I am sure they have seen them), paragraphs of my writing reproduced elsewhere, and concepts from my mission statements and artistic process taken from my Etsy Personal Profile and Shop About sections and posted almost word for word in another’s Shop About. It seems that this feeling that a corner of the jewelry world is closing in on me isn’t all in my head as I was hoping it was. The justification of “someone at some point in history at some geographical location has also done this” just doesn’t cut it anymore. Not when these people are viewing my work and it clearly came from me and not some specter of someone else in history who happened to design the same piece. I’m done with this kind of “reasoning”. It just enables.
So, I find myself between a rock and a hard place. What to do about this problem? I acknowledge that most of this probably is not malicious or intentional, which is why I try to refrain from anger. But the point remains that if this is going to happen with my designs, I do not want most other jewelers to have access to my art, regardless of their intentions. Quite some time ago I began unfollowing jewelers unless I had a personal relationship with them, not because I dislike anyone, but to minimize my own exposure to the work of others. I stopped posting to popular jeweler tags on Instagram (which seems to be the major platform enabling all of this copying) like #instajewelrygroup and #instasmithy a long time ago as well to minimize the exposure of my designs. But with time and as my followers grow it seems only to get worse.
I write this now with a feeling of emptiness as opposed to anger. I struggled through all kinds of adversity to reach where I am today, and jewelry has been my salvation. To have this happen to my work is to have my altar desecrated.
The only thing I can do to redeem it is cut ties with those who have engaged in this.
Wounded though I am, Soliloquy Jewelry plows forth. New things lay ahead, and each day I work my hands raw climbing toward them. I am considering another tagline/motto change, which is annoying to admit, but also freeing to embrace the ever-shifting, ever-growing nature of art and business creation. I have other news coming as well, but as this post was a heavy one I’d rather end it here with a photo of some gorgeous new turquoise to lighten the mood.
Nacozari with a fleck of manganese, old stock Bisbee Lavender Pit, old stock Damele, Royston, and 0ld stock Stormy Mountain all natural turquoise.