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Geek jewelry yields to techno fashion

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Innovative jewelry designers constantly look out for interesting materials from which they can fabricate interesting pieces of personal adornment.

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During a personal hiatus from jewelry making, I took to soldering components on integrated circuit boards, a skill also known as populating the boards. I realized then that electronic components could constitute an interesting group of materials from which to fashion jewelry, as the solders glittered with silver when they were done right.

Capacitors, resistors, diodes, regulators, LEDs, transistors, and circuit boards constitute the collection of components that lend themselves to jewelry. It has been known around university electronics labs that students, especially the ladies, would depart from their hands-on digital drudgery to design something creative to wear. Thus was born what was soon to be called “geek jewelry.”

Populated circuit boards that failed in function could function as form for a pendant when attached to earwires or a neck chain with a bale. Such simplistic designs announced the designer as a geek getting a creative break from graduate studies. The pejorative term must have inspired more inspired designs.

Those designers -- soon to be expert electronic engineers -- put some creativity into their designs by clustering or arraying the components in more intricate arrangements. This served to utilize the steely modern look of the electronic components without adding a geeky component to the lab-born jewelry designs.

It was when jewelry designers by trade noticed the high tech appeal of electronic components that they began to incorporate them into their jewelry couture. Recognizing the inherent appeal of such designs to current-day-conscious and technically oriented clientele, famous names, such as Italian designer Paola Mirai, fashioned recycled electronic components as features in their creations. Techno fashion became the newly accepted nomenclature for geek jewelry.

In jewelry as in architecture, form follows function. Designers are shaking off old notions of gemstones for focus in jewelry and taking on technical forms to function as up-to-the-minute attractors in current designs. Techno fashion jewelry no longer remains in the domain of the geeks.

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