Jewelry has served and continues today to serve several important functions in society. Objects of personal adornment have the ability to define a person’s social statues, serve as a redeemable investment and perform on a psychological level. The intrinsic value of the materials used in jewelry making has always been a reflection of an individual’s or family’s wealth.
In my work, I seek to create opulent jewelry that is reminiscent of royal jewelry but made using my own version of gemstones from common, non-precious materials instead of precious stones and metals. Through l
abor-intensive processes, Plexiglas, brass, synthetic materials, resin, and found objects are employed to create industrial counterfeits or stand-ins for gemstones and gold. Holograms and faux silver and gold foil are used underneath the stones to add luster, referencing paste diamonds and rhinestones. I hand fabricate settings to further reference the language of fine jewelry, with the intention of elevating the work. With the use of these everyday materials, I am able to exaggerate the size and abundance of gemstones parody or poke fun at the class issues inherent in fine jewelry.
Occasionally feeling homesick I make works reminiscent of the Florida beaches where I grew up. I choose materials like synthetic fishing ties, holograms, fake plastic flowers, neon glow-in- the-dark bits and plastic sugar sprinkles, all in a color palette that reflects my memories of a time and place. These floral brooches are both unapologetically sentimental and humorous, with a nod to Victoriana and tourist kitsch.
Nikki Couppee is originally from Pensacola Beach, Florida and is currently residing in the San Francisco Bay Area. She received an M.F.A. from Kent State University, Jewelry/ Metals, Kent, Ohio and a B.F.A. from the University of Georgia, Athens, Georgia, Jewelry/ Metals. Her work has been featured in publications including American Craft, Allure Australia, Marie Claire Australia, Metalsmith Magazine, Modern Magazine, Vogue Brazil, Dailycandy and Lark Book’s 500 Enameled Objects. She shows her work nationally and internationally through exhibitions, gallery representation, fairs and collaborations most recently for Paris Fashion Week and Australian Fashion Week. She has taught enameling and jewelry/ metals techniques at Kent State University, The Cleveland Institute of Art, The Crucible in Oakland, California and workshops around the country.