Utilitarian plastics are reborn as elegant yet wearable jewelry art in a show at Seattle's Facèré Gallery.

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Think of jewelry, and what usually comes to mind are gems and precious metals. Given that understanding, you’ll be surprised by the jewelry in the current show at the Facèré Gallery.

The works on display here are made of thermoplastics, resins, latex, rubber and epoxy used alone and only occasionally combined with gemstones or silver and gold. Twenty-eight internationally recognized contemporary jewelry artists have taken everything from Lego pieces to colorful recycled architectural laminates to create stunning one-of-a-kind adornments. The variety is fascinating.

At one end of the spectrum, Monika Kroll presents delicate earrings made from miniature Barbie accessories picked up at flea markets. In contrast are the massive over-the-top creations, like Suzanne Golden’s necklaces of found plastic beads. Especially striking is the vibrant, flower-filled lei called “Welcome to Hawaii.”

The jewelry and fashions of Elizabethan England provide inspiration for Uli Rapp. In his Amsterdam studio, he screen-prints textiles and layers them onto rubber to create long, sinuous necklaces perfect for the woman who seeks elegant minimalism. Then there are the brooches in the shape of living hearts made by Masumi Kataoka from the leather of old purses. She coats her creations, which she considers containers of emotions, with a pigmented resin to stabilize their shape and provide realistic color.

Julia Barello works with recycled medical-imaging films. From these anonymous views of internal human parts she fashions delicate, fanciful necklaces composed of layered flowers with intricately cut petals. Somehow these ultrafeminine and dainty compositions manage also to be remarkably sophisticated.

The exhibit, curated by Susan Kasson Sloan, came to Seattle from the Center for Contemporary Craft in Houston, and travels next to New Jersey. Seattle, with its long history of nurturing contemporary jewelry artists, is an ideal venue for this show. Both the Tacoma Art Museum and the Bellevue Arts Museum have long featured works by Seattle jewelry artists such as Ramona Solberg, Ron Ho, Nancy Worden and many others.

Although Facèré owner Karen Lorene started her career with an interest in vintage jewelry, and has appeared as a juror on Antiques Roadshow, today she’s more interested in the artistry and experimentation of contemporary jewelry designers. The hand crafted creations currently on view show why.

Nancy Worssam: nworssam@earthlink.net