The materiality of digital jewellery from a jeweller’s perspective

Taking a research-through-design with craft sensibilities approach we present design propositions in the digital age that value the complexity and uniqueness of being human. We introduce exemplars of digital jewellery objects that offer alternative ways of connecting a person with personal anchor points, significant others and places. The pieces were inspired by the lives of three participants and the researcher who all frequently travel back to their native countries, but who live permanently in the UK and experience feelings of transition and what we describe as “being in-between”. ‘Microcosmos’, ‘Togetherness: Connected Brooches’ and ‘Topoi’ expand our understanding of what digital jewellery can be by embodying interactions that highlight the sensorial and imaginative aspects of digital technology.

Building on our previous work on poetic qualities of interaction with digital jewellery we offer a reflective view on how digital jewellery can challenge our expectations of digital connectivity, sensor functionality and location awareness and we discuss the material qualities of the pieces unfolding the narratives associated with their function and form.

Most digital devices come with a set of expectations such as: What does it do? How long is battery life? How cutting edge is the technology? By contrast, this research offers a focus on atypical personal interactions in order to address a different range of questions and potentially open up our expectations of the digital. By reflecting on our designs we continue the discussions on how jewellery practices and digital technologies can suggest more poetic interactions for people.