Shelly McMahon


“Truest Black”; Sterling silver, porcelain, vinyl tape ; 2.25 x 2.25 x 1 inches


“Tapered Baguette”; Sterling silver, cement, sealed masking tape; 7 x 7 x 0.75 inches

Incorporating non-skilled labor as well as non-traditional materials into my practice, I use research about the neuropsychological effects that faceted gemstones in fine jewelry have on our attention in order to devise algorithms for the creation of ornament. My work investigates what causes the brain to block out the majority of incoming visual stimuli in favor of a singular one. In this way, my pieces explore methods of commanding attention through material and perspectival manipulation. Historically, costume jewelry mimics fine jewelry in non-precious materials, broadening access to luxurious “gems”.

My work takes a philosophical departure from costume jewelry by accepting the inevitable failure of the copy and uses this as an entry point into the fabrication process. I create jewelry in a space where craft as a method of production is at odds with replicating gemstones in a completely subjective manner. Thus, tension exists between the reality of the pieces and our associations with the different classes of jewelry.


“The Golden One (Charm Necklace #1)”; 18kt Gold Hollow Construction, Found Chain; 18 x 0.75 x 0.125 inches