Why aluminium for jewellery?
In 1825 pure aluminium was successfully extracted from ore for the first time by Danish chemist Hans-Christian. But it wasn’t until 1889 – while the Eiffel Tower was unveiled in Paris, Vincent Van Gogh painted Starry Night in Saint-Remy, and the world’s first jukebox sang out in San Francisco – that aluminium became a commercially viable material. The world was transformed, and aluminium quickly became one of the most important raw materials on the planet, but why aluminium for jewellery?
Well, there are many reasons why aluminium is a wonderful material for modern jewellery design. In this journal post I’ll walk you through 7 – from its creative potential, to its benefits to you, and its credentials as a sustainable material – which show why aluminium works beautifully as a material for contemporary jewellery.
Play: creative freedom.
Aluminium offers so many creative possibilities that it may be one of the reasons why contemporary jewellery is has produced such a plethora of wonderful designs. This is because when compared with traditional materials such as gold, silver, or platinum; aluminium is relatively affordable which gives jewellery designers a sense of creative freedom in a process that is often painstakingly delicate. But it’s not only aluminiums forgiving nature which makes it a dream material, but its properties which help to form it into incredibly original shapes.
Like gold and silver, aluminium is also highly malleable. This gives designers an opportunity to create unusual shapes without compromising the piece’s structural integrity. This has allowed for inventive necklace features such as necklace fastenings which are simply placed onto the wearer’s neck to be softly bent into shape.
Lastly, aluminium’s colour can be transformed into any colour imaginable thanks to the process of anodization. This process creates a finish which is not only decorative but also durable. As my aluminium jewellery is anodised by hand at my studio, I see the beautiful transformations that this wonderful material can undergo. You can find a collection of my anodised aluminium jewellery here. While these benefits are all directly related to the creation of jewellery, aluminium also benefits the wearers of jewellery too.
Is aluminium safe to wear?
Aluminium is safe to wear. Infact, aluminium is a hypoallergenic material. That means that it is unlikely to give you an allergic reaction (however you should always double check with your GP if you are unsure). So if you are someone with sensitive skin then aluminium may be an excellent option.
Also, aluminium is relatively light. Have you ever put on your jewellery and felt like you were dragging an anchor around? With aluminium jewellery you’ll be able to wear all of your favourite pieces and still feel free to reach for your favourite book.
The ‘Green Metal’
Another benefit of aluminium jewellery, and one of the most important in the context of contemporary jewellery design, is its sustainability. As we are becoming increasingly aware, sustainability extends from how efficient the material is to work with, to its longevity, and its recyclability. In all of these, aluminium is rated excellent and as a result has been coined the ‘Green Metal’. But how does this benefit you? Well, there are 2 main aspects of aluminium jewellery which combine to make a material that is well matched to the demands of contemporary life.
First, unlike other jewellery materials such as gold or silver, aluminium aluminium isn’t as easily tarnished thanks to its ability to form a natural layer of aluminum oxide on its surface. This naturally occurring layer of aluminium oxide which prevents the metal from coming into contact with the air. That’s right, aluminium doesn’t rust. What’s more, it is also resistant to seawater. So, whether you are caught in the rain on your daily walk, or visiting the seaside; aluminium is a highly versatile jewellery material which can be safely worn in many conditions.
But that’s not all. Another reason why aluminium is a beautiful match for designer jewellery is its ease to clean. While everything fades, with a little time and some common household items, aluminium can be made to look as good as new through periodic cleaning. You can find a thorough cleaning guide here. And that is why aluminium for jewellery creates pieces which can be repeatedly worn and occasionally renewed over a long period of time, and why I believe aluminium is a brilliant material for designer jewellery.