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Kinetic Jewellery

A revolving ring, inspired by Friedrich Becker has made it to the Journées Européennes des Métiers d’Arts in Paris. To make it move a bit of magic was needed.

Shaking up the world jewellery

When it comes to mechanical innovation and inventive genius, the decorative arts have a lot to offer. Without a doubt, one of its most interesting personalities is Friedrich Becker, founding father of moving (or kinetic) jewellery. As if by magic, his complex inventions spin and move and it seems impossible to determine where their energy comes from. They fascinate me, as a puzzle that refuses to be solved (and indeed, Becker had no interest in explaining his creations). It was absolutely clear to me, that I would participate in a competition by his foundation: My entry should be big and striking but at the same time convincing because of its sophisticated and clean construction. When I finished, I was quite happy with the result:

Construction and planning

How does this work? The simple answer is ball bearings. However, it wasn’t simple at all to find one in the right size! With the tiny parts of the ring I required miniature ball bearings with high precision and after a long search I finally found what I wanted at Bavarian manufacturer Myonic. But even then, I only started working on the ring after excessive amounts of testing and experiments. Armed with weights, putty and small metal pads I set out to find the optimal balance point for the bowls to gyrate evenly. The special look also required further planning. The illusion of flowing, weightless movement as a finishing touch to distract from the miniature mechanics at work could be best achieved by polished, luminous surfaces. Silver was the metal of choice here, with its reflection and sparkle catching the attention. The ring spins steadily, but it isn’t obvious what keeps it spinning so lightly.

Ring on the road

The ring received so much attention, that I was invited to present it at the Berlin award for artisanship at the Kunstgewerbemuseum. The highlight certainly was the exhibition at the European days of the decorative arts in Paris, under the beautiful arches of the Viaduc des Artes where a number of renowned artists have their studios. It was exciting to watch the visitor’s reactions: Fixated on top of a box, the ring slowly gyrated and attracted the attention of those walking past. Wearing the ring, most assume the acuteness of the movement can only be achieved through magnets: “It’s so smooth although it looks massive. This is what true craft is about!” A big compliment for a tiny movement.

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In my blog I write about both, the day-to-day work of a goldsmith as well as the exceptional situations I am sometimes faced with.