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Toni Greenbaum’s Take on Jewelry and Personal Connection

Art historian and self-proclaimed “jewelry addict” Toni Greenbaum visited SCAD’s Pei Ling Chan Gallery on Tuesday afternoon to give an engaging speech about jewelry through the ages and its ability to express personal thoughts, feelings and emotions.

After thanking her audience of fellow enthusiasts and the city of Savannah for being so welcoming, Greenbaum began exploring the philosophy of jewelry. She expressed that people wear jewelry for various reasons: to remind them of an experience, as a talisman, to experience different points of view.

Another major discussion point was the idea that jewelry serves as a non-verbal passcode between people. For example, if two people are wearing earrings by the same designer or a pin about the same social issue, they automatically know they both have something in common.

Then, Greenbaum began diving into important designers and innovations in the world of jewelry. She directed the audience to 120,000 years ago in the era of the Neanderthals with the first known forms of jewelry—a necklace made out of sea shells and animal gut.

Greenbaum also discussed the social impact of Madeleine Albright’s political broaches as well as post-WWII jewelry and 1960s activism.

Exploring all the way to modern-day Rolexes, she kept the audience captivated with knowledgeable explanations and relevant examples that portrayed the power of jewelry and expression.

Written by Trinity Serra

Photography by Jonathan Gomez