My name is Kellie Riggs, BFA graduate from the Rhode Island School of Design and post- Fulbright Scholar in Italy researching the state of contemporary art jewelry and how (or if) the field overlaps with visual art culture. Please use this blog as a resource to learn more about artists, happenings and new ideas within the field. To learn more about my current investigations, please click the ‘BOUT THIS BLOG link and the COSMOLOGY link above. If you have any questions, feel free to contact me at, or if you’re curious about my own studio work or want my CV, you can visit  Scroll down below the images for a full bio.

Me with Cornelia Lauf and Manfred Bischoff in Tuscany

Me with curator Cornelia Lauf and Manfred Bischoff in Tuscany, Italy

me with the Current Obsession team + artist Tanel Veenre, Munich, Germany

At Galerie Marzee in Nijmegen, Netherlands

me wearing Stefan Hauser at Galerie Rob Koudijs in Amsterdam

with Stefano Marchetti and Graziano Visintin, Padova, Italy

me wearing a necklace by friend, Sam Hamilton in Florence, Italy

modeling some Stefano Marchetti and a good piece of meat

me wearing Nina Sajet in Munich, Germany

Kellie Riggs (b. 1986) is an alum of the Rhode Island School of Design where she received a BFA with honors in the Jewelry + Metalsmithing department in the spring of 2011. Riggs’ work derives from a long nurtured relationship with Italy, a country the artist has been traveling to since a young age and living in and out of since her time in Rome on RISD’s European Honors program in Spring 2010. All of her work can be seen as fragmented pieces of a visual vocabulary taken from classic architectural fundamentals of adornment. Riggs translates the decorative and at times structural articulation of interior architectural spaces to the scale of the body with both of her production lines and within her one-off artworks.

After graduation, Kellie was awarded a Fulbright Grant to Italy with a project entitled: Past and Present: Italian Contemporary Jewelry as Art. The proposal began with an interest in Italy’s deep-rooted commitment to telescoping its own visual history by investigating artistic patterns that includeds the maintenance of tradition found in relative contemporary artworks. Historical examples include the oeuvre of Michelangelo and Borromini, Italian mannerist paintings and Rational Architecture as well; yet a less known example can also be found in a small lineage of goldsmiths out of Padua. Beginning in the late 1950’s, artists like Francesco Pavan, Giampaolo Babetto, Graziano Visintin and Stefano Marchetti, re-conceptualized goldsmithing as an artistic practice, similarly valuing the use of tradition to in order to transcend it.

These artists belong to only one facet of the small word that is Contemporary Jewelry; an international and extremely diverse yet off the grid artistic practice founded on conceptual development. Riggs’ own grant research quickly became almost entirely devoted to the understanding and promotion of Contemporary Jewelry by way of constant travel throughout Europe to visit galleries and speak with artists. Kellie’s research investigates the field’s relationship to visual art culture by concentrating on sematic confusion and redefinition of the field so as to find easier ways to introduce, discuss and critique the work being produced. Although her official grant period ended in the summer of 2012, Kellie has chosen to settle in Florence to continue her research, start new studio and production projects, and to eventually launch a new associated called, The Secret Formula.

  1. diane said:

    Thank you Kellie for linking us to your blog – it is absolutely amazing and what a gift of following your journey and research.


  2. Dear Kellie, I just realized that you’ve linked us to your wonderful blog and I just wanted to thank you! :)
    Baci from Athens, Greece!

    • So glad you read it!! Thanks for the comment, really!!!
      ciao ciao!

  3. Lynne Avis said:

    Hi Kellie.
    Your blog is incredibly interesting and I am so glad I came upon it! I am currently studying Jewellery Design in Cape Town, South Africa. I am interested in the changing perception of jewellery and the crossing of boundaries between jewellery and adornment. I am struggling to understand the difference between jewellery and adornment, as the more research I do the less of a difference there seems to be. Since you have done much research into the understanding of the term jewellery, would you be able to advise me on what you would consider the differences?
    Lynne Avis

    • Hi Lynne, sorry to respond so long after your wonderful comment!
      What a loaded question. I can’t say that i’m much of a researcher of adornment in a more general or historical sense, but I think we have to consider this type of Contemporary Jewelry as our modern day version at its very core, don’t you think? A lot of the times I do not even think there is a difference between jewelry and adornment, it’s just about digging in to all the different complexities of the different kinds of jewelry and asking questions about why one would want to put that particular piece on. It can get really sociological in this sense. Maybe I would look into some artists that really talk about the very nature of jewelry and adorning one self in jewelry with their work to try and understand contemporary ideas behind that. Or how about reading this bit I posted awhile back, I found it really relevant! Thanks for your comment, so glad to know who is out there reading!!!!
      warm wishes, Kellie

  4. Liesbeth den Besten said:

    hi Kellie,
    Well done. You write about things that absolutely confuse me the same way. Susy Menkes writing about a creative director of an Italian jewelry brand who has ‘revolutionized the Italian jewelry heritage with inspiration from tribal African designs through Bauhaus Modernism’ – do you get a picture? Yes? No, completely wrong! What you get is an overall gem-studded thing with so many glittering stones on it that you can hardly see if there is any design underneath. Probably the biggest innovation that has been happening in fine jewelry is the fact that the taboos about precious and semiprecious stones are gone – finally they can be mixed in fine jewelry making the pieces more colourful but still only about the sparkle of stones….(sigh), Liesbeth den Besten

  5. Hi Liesbeth! Thanks for such a great comment. Yes it is utterly ridiculous what is out there and how people really misuse our language or look for meaning where it is not. What is to be done? That’s why I like this idea of calling people out in this way although it might seem a bit aggressive, meanwhile really emphasizing Contemporary Jewelry’s relation to art more than anything else, even if some makers seem uncomfortable with that. I like do that so outsiders don’t get confused and think we are tied to that kind of luxury production stuff. Here’s hoping people will wise up!
    Warm wishes,

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