At first glance, this necklace catches the light and each individual bead shimmers like a mirror. Upon closer inspection, however, it is discovered that instead of beads, it is made up of small square pieces of medical pill blister packages, each loosely woven on thin, metal wire. This necklace was designed by Verena Sieber-Fuchs, a Swiss jewelry designer who worked in the textile field before finding her way to jewelry. Based in Zurich, it is no wonder that Sieber-Fuchs wove this innovative material into her jewelry design, as Zurich is a center for pharmaceutical manufacturing. Along with pill packaging, Sieber-Fuchs has used other unconventional materials in her designs such as unexposed photographic film and chopped up newspaper financial pages. Along with its connection to the industries of Zurich, the material of the pill packages has many possibilities for texture and ornament. The reflective, colorful surfaces and sharp edges of each cut out piece stimulate the wearer and perform as an active dialogue with the body. The necklace allows the wearer to exhibit it as either a necklace or shoulder piece, and the delicate woven structure allows the piece to fall gracefully on the wearer and move in concert with them. The clever use of material offers a poignant social commentary on medication consumption in contemporary industrial society. It exhibits a design that bridges textile and jewelry design, much like Sieber-Fuchs’ unique career after studying textile design at the Kunstgewerbeschule in Basel and Zurich. It could be said that the necklace is part of a contemporary artistic movement starting in the 1960s, when artist-designers rejected jewelry as a status symbol made of precious materials. Instead, they created conceptual wearable works that were made of financially accessible materials available to a wider audience. Jewelry during this period also challenged wearers to consider their ideas about art and personal adornment. This necklace was designed well into a period when Sieber-Fuchs sought to incorporate light and transparent materials into her design for more open, airy jewelry.
The Vitamin Store Necklace is included in the exhibition, Esperanza Spalding Selects, on view through January 7, 2018.
Erin Benedictson is an intern in the Product Design and Decorative Arts Department at Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum.
 Cindi Strauss, “A Brief History of Contemporary Jewelry, 1960-2006,” in Ornament As Art: Avant-Garde Jewelry from the Helen Williams Drutt Collection, The Museum of Fine Arts, Houston (Stuttgart: Arnoldsche Art Publishers, 2007), 19.
 Cindi Strauss, “A Brief History of Contemporary Jewelry, 1960-2006,” in Ornament As Art: Avant-Garde Jewelry from the Helen Williams Drutt Collection, The Museum of Fine Arts, Houston (Stuttgart: Arnoldsche Art Publishers, 2007), 16.