In September 2014, I traveled with Art Jewelry Forum to Sweden and Estonia. This was the second year I’ve traveled with the group – last year was Amsterdam — and both times have been a blast – trips of a lifetime. I was trying to dissect why these trips are so memorable, and different from other trips, which I also enjoy, but there is something about these trips that makes me smile every time I think of them.
Here are some of the reasons I think they are so enjoyable:
1. You are with people who are as nuts about jewelry as I am. That’s what makes all of the jewelry conferences and events I go to so wonderful – you are with people who live and breathe jewelry. If they do it professionally, most often it’s because they love jewelry. Outside of this world, you may have terrific and loyal friends, but they may never think about jewelry, and, if you are like me, you don’t talk with them about it, or at least not as extensively or in depth as you do with your jewelry buddies.
2. Too, you are with people who like jewelry, but it doesn’t have to be that you like the same kinds of jewelry. For example, many of those on the trip adore and collect “art jewelry”, which is a very broad term. Suffice it to say that a lot of it is avant-garde and, dare I say, way out. You will not ever see me wearing most of it. But art jewelry is a broad term and within that spectrum there is an overlap of what appeals to them and to me.
3. These trips are extremely well-planned and organized and it’s all done by volunteers who again love jewelry. No travel agent involved except that each of us makes our own way to the starting point. Of course there are changes and delays forcing us to improvise and depart from the schedule, but that’s true of any trip.
4. We have entrée to the most well-known pioneers, makers, collectors, designers and educators, many of whom I could probably not gain entrée to on my own. If I could, it would take an inordinate amount of time to line things up. While I tried to bone up on Dutch art jewelry and Nordic jewelry before I traveled, it’s not until I get back that I realize the caliber of people we are meeting.
5. While we visit museums and design schools, talk with curators, professors and students, the majority of our time we are looking at jewelry and the majority of it is available for purchase. Almost all of it is one-of-a-kind and we are meeting the person who made it, which gives each piece such as special meaning. In general, because the makers are not working with precious gemstones and gold, the pieces are relatively affordable.
6. We are traveling to very interesting places, where I haven’t been before. I love to travel, and the combination with jewelry makes it top the list of enjoyment. Because of the strong focus on one area, I plan to get back to the Netherlands and Sweden and explore other aspects of the country, get to more of the museums, etc. Our base hotels are also very nice and centrally located. You can stay anywhere you want, but the base hotel is very comfortable.
7. The people on the trip are friendly, inclusive, educated and interesting. They are all women along with a few husbands. They come from all over the States and a couple from other countries. Most are collectors, but there are a few makers, gallerists and teachers. The size of the group, no more than 26, also makes it easier to get to have a chance to talk with each other. We are at a lot of the lunches and dinners together, which enhances comradery. At least three-quarters of those who came last year returned this year. With two trips under my belt, I am a newbie. This group has been traveling together for 6-7 years and has other events during the year.
8. It’s refreshing to meet these mostly young makers who are so committed to what they do. It helps me break out of my own thinking as to what the world (my world) is made up of. The makers we meet on the trips are incredibly committed to what they do. Many of them are younger and willing to do without material goods for their art. My guess is that most of them do not have a choice as to what they do. They are internally driven, and flabbergastingly creative. Even if I do not like some of their creations, I appreciate the creativity.
9. The tour itself is very reasonably priced. Considering the planning and organization that went into all of the visits we made, the AJF part of the trip (excluding the hotels, travel, etc.) and the fact that many of the lunches and dinners were included (along with breakfasts included in the hotel price), price of $1,600 is an incredible value. The $1,600 includes a donation of $150 to AJF.
10. We got to see parts of the country we never would have had a chance to see on a “regular” tour. We were invited to exhibits in people’s homes and got to see the way people live. We went to the suburbs. We saw the inside of studios, places the public usually isn’t invited.
Hope to see you next year!
Sharon Berman is principal of Berbay Marketing & Public Relations and a member of the Art Jewelry Forum.