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One way to approach this question is to look at the different styles of jewelry designers in terms of their inspirations.
Perhaps it might be worth comparing a strong Pacific Northwestern jewelry designer like Paul Wagner, with a more abstract jewelry designer with a strong art studio background like Beth Adams.
Wagner uses imagery and symbols that have distinctly native pacific northwestern themes. We see patterns that are reminiscent of totems. We see frogs, crows or ravens, wolves, the sun and the moon. His representational strokes are fluid and loose, yet the material (often silver) is sturdy and heavy. There is a weightiness to the final product.
Beth Adams, on the other hand, is less interested in representational symbols and much more interested in finding that abstract aesthetic that you can also see in her studio artwork. We see fluid lines and suggested forms, but the result is airy and quite light.
Another approach might be to look at jewelry from certain areas in the world. It would be easy to compare a Pacific Northwestern jewelry artist with a Celtic jewelry artist in terms of symbolism and inspiration from the mythos of their culture. Yet, it would be easy to contrast them as well, in terms of materials, patterns, focus of symbolism, and purpose of the item.
Or, perhaps, you could compare and contrast styles even within the Native American jewelry design world. Southwestern materials and symbols are quite different from the Pacific Northwestern example we looked at above.
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