© Ulrike Ullmann

Simply Sustainable

The Art of Cologne Jewellery-Design Today

3 July to 1 Augsut 2021

Sustainability in the art of jewellery-design – this is not a new trend, but, since ancient times, has been a matter of course for most gold- and silversmith workshops. Due to the high value of precious metals and gemstones, the materials are handled with extreme care and not a single gram is wasted. The extraction of precious metals, such as gold and silver, not only causes great environmental damage through high energy consumption and the use of toxic chemicals, but is also usually associated with great danger for the workers in the mines.

Public awareness of these problems has been growing for several years, as has the demand for fair trade and responsibly produced jewellery. This involves the traceability of the origin and disposal of raw materials, as well as the use of recycled or non-controversial precious metals sourced in compliance with human rights.

In the exhibition Simply Sustainable. The Art of Cologne Jewellery-Design Today, the MAKK presents works by the Guild of Cologne Jewellers, Goldsmiths and Silversmiths, most of which were designed and produced exclusively for this collaboration project. The concept of sustainability is considered under four aspects:


Modular Jewellery

This term refers to pieces of jewellery that can be individually and variably adapted. The rings, for example, can adjust mechanically to swollen fingers and the combinability of different elements allows wearing a piece of jewellery in various ways.


Resource-Saving Production

This concerns pieces of jewellery that were first created as digital 3D designs (CAD) and then cast according to a wax model. The procedure only requires small quantities of precious metals during development and implementation.



Materials that have not traditionally been used for jewellery, such as a found piece of iron, old fishing bait or clothes pegs, are integrated into new designs under the term “upcycling”. "Scrap" is thus given a second life and is, in some cases, reminiscent of special, bygone moments.


Urban Mining

Loosely translated, this term means "gold mining in an urban environment". Old jewellery is melted down in order to form the precious metal in a completely new way, or, elements of discarded jewellery, precious stones or pearls are reused, thus reducing the need for problematic new acquisition.


In collaboration with