Lauren LaBella


BFA Student

Major: Metalsmithing & Jewelry

Graduation Year: 2018

Artist Statement:

Examining my own interests as a maker regarding collection and preciousness, gemstones and minerals routinely found their way into my work. This observation encouraged me to take a closer look at the perception of gemstones, and how they are regarded as a personally precious material, or a commodity with high monetary value.

This concept of preciousness is explored through the use of plastic boxes/means of containment used for packaging gemstones that are combined with traditional silver stone settings to create a line of “precious gemstone jewelry.” Utilizing the containers in which cut gemstones are packaged to be sold, some are set right side up so the stone can be viewed, while some are overturned so only the label on the back is visible from the front. Since the labels can include the names of the stones, size in millimeters, carat count, location of origin, or price for individual purchase, the viewer becomes aware of how the precious materials stored inside of the boxes are quantified as a commodity item of significant monetary value. Rather than setting the loose stones, the process of setting the boxes, vials, and bags themselves in traditional stone settings is used to amplify the human tendency to protect precious items by creating barriers to shield them from damage that would decrease the significance/monetary value.

Preciousness, for me, however, truly lies in the sentimentality that has inherently tethered itself to stone as a material. By using sterling silver, a precious metal, to house the stones in various means of containment, I aim to display the vast emotional currency of the objects that greatly exceeds any monetary value that could be culturally applied. This elevates the stone to the level of artifact, and amplifies the true worth that I believe each stone possesses as a personally precious object.


Lauren LaBella is a graduate of Maine College of Art with a BFA in Metalsmithing & Jewelry, obtained in the spring of 2018. Her work primarily takes the form of wearable jewelry utilizing traditional metalsmithing and jewelry techniques, such as stone setting and precious metal fabrication.

LaBella’s work explores perceptions of value and applied preciousness onto objects of subjective beauty and worth. As a collector of gems and stones, her work incorporates the mundane, plastic containers in which gemstones are packaged and distributed. By exchanging these valueless plastic boxes as a replacement of its monetarily precious contents and setting them in precious metal using traditional stone settings, her work discusses questions of display, commodity, and the applied value and significance our culture places on object and material.

Notions of personal preciousness and applied significance of inanimate objects are also explored through the realm of sentimentality and “emotional currency.” As stones and gems are personally precious objects that are also culturally accepted commodity items, LaBella utilizes the precious metal housings to elevate and investigate the conversation between sentimentality and commercialism of naturally derived specimens and materials in a modern consumerist culture.