quill collar detail
Mixing materials of varying conceptual worths is one surefire way to challenge classic assumptions about what is and what isn't a valued commodity. In this fitted collar's pendant, the combination of a relatively worthless material like a porcupine's quill with a precious ruby cabochon begs the question, "When presented as sculpture, is the intrinsic price-tag of the raw materials an issue if it works creatively?"
As designers of fine jewelry, it's a difficult task to keep the available palette of working materials from degenerating into units of exchange in one's mind. Maintaining the ability to view platinum and paper as aesthetically equivalent is the ongoing intellectual battle that defines the jewelrymaker as sculptural artist.
In contrast, it's easy for our quilled African friend. While we may forever consider the ruby one of nature's most prized gemstones, he'd trade piles of them, without a second thought, for the protection his quills afford him.
Unique, In Private Collection.
Fabricated sterling silver and 14k yellow gold, African porcupine quill and ruby.
Charles Burnley, 2000.