Molten Jewelry Bridges The Gap Between Bold Maximalism And Fine Artistry

It's exciting when designers break through several hundred years worth of traditional symmetrical jewelry, like flawlessly spherical rings. Unusual, unexpected design that dares to break the mold somehow gives us permission to be ourselves more fully. Molten jewelry hit fashion week in 2021, specifically from Dior, Area, and Marine Serre, and shook up the practical, traditional looks (that we still adore). 

Molten (which simply means melted) feels dynamic and fluid, and is the most organic-looking design aesthetic in metal jewelry. It can resemble the chunky, natural globes you'd see form in mid-air from a stream of water or gold that melts and drops organically onto the floor. One unique aspect is that the process of crafting it can help forge the final design. Jewelry designer Gail Kowalski heats her metal and then plunges it into ice water. She then takes her design cues from the natural shapes that result from the shock of heat that meets cold. Because it is both bold and original, molten jewelry sits naturally at the crossroads between a maximalist and fine arts aesthetic. Despite the presence of these daring new designs, there will always be a place for traditional shapes, and we predict a spin on a classic chain-link necklace will be all the rage for 2023.

Molten jewelry: the intersection of maximalism and fine arts

The origin of molten jewelry is hard to pinpoint, but the process of water casting (pouring hot metal into cold water instead of using a traditional cast or mold) has been used to create jewelry for thousands of years. It's easy to see its connection to maximalism. There's no easier way to make an announcement about who you are, your design sense, and your utterly unique qualities than to trumpet your taste through maximalism, an aesthetic based on "more is more." Maximalism encourages life-affirming, joyous, and exuberant self-expression. 

A typical maximalist look is stacking bracelets, varying chunky and thin styles as well as alternating materials, to create an overall pattern. Or, stack two or three thick and thin molten silver and gold rings. There's an inherent boldness to molten pieces that situates them perfectly into a maximalist approach to accessorizing. Their originality also recalls the work of fine artists. 

An example of jewelry from a major artist was the work from mid-20th century sculptor Alexander Calder — and one of his silver necklace designs sold at Sotheby's in 2013 for $2 million. Jane Collins, senior editor at the trend forecasting organization WGSN told the New York Times, "The price of raw materials no longer has a huge impact on the perceived value of jewelry — the value is all in the design and craftsmanship." The same is true for molten jewelry, but it's a more affordable piece of original art.

Who should wear molten jewelry and why

If you care about minimizing waste, molten jewelry might be a great choice. Aside from its sinuous shapes, much of it is sustainable. Many jewelers find that using recycled gold and silver, shaping their pieces with "the cut-offs and filings of silver and gold which can be melted down and reused," per Mooi Jewelry, not only helps the environment but creates one-of-a-kind-looking work. Benn Harvey-Walker, the co-founder of Ethical Jewellery Australia, shared with Medium that "Recycled gold produces up to 99.8% fewer greenhouse gas emissions than mined gold," specifically gold gathered from discarded gold jewelry. That's a stunning reduction in emissions and a great reason to seek out recycled pieces.

If this trend interests you, choose your molten shapes wisely according to your own height and shape. Some molten jewelry styles look like long, melted wax drips, and that may work best on taller people with long necks and fingers. But feel free to make your own guidelines; choose pieces that most closely express who you are. Unusually shaped jewelry can be a conversation starter as well as a declaration of independence. If you love creativity, originality, and revealing your personality through design, a molten ring or oversized molten earrings will help you instantly stand out, and we found 10 ways to work bold jewelry into your wardrobe in case you need an outfit upgrade.