Jewelry as Prosthesis

Assuming the body as an object of re-design, I further my ongoing thesis by looking at the body and science, and to what extent jewellery and technology can come together in questioning relationships towards the body itself. My aim is then to question what jewellery is and what it can still become, how does it perform in the world and what are the future performances it might assume.

The research explores the concept of the ‘Jewellery as Prosthesis’[i] juxtaposing my thesis conception of ‘Prosthesis as The Jewel / Medically Prescribed jewellery’, reiterating this analogy by analyzing the boundaries of the “body” within the concept of “body- object of redesign”, regarding surgery from an artistic viewing. I propose a semi-fetishist vision towards the hypotheses of transforming the implanted prosthesis device into a piece of intra-corporeal jewellery, defying the conventional concept of both.

Regarding biotechnological advances that allow the praxis of an object being put inside the body, thus turning it into the manipulated surface that carries the uncanny equivalence between body and dummy and its inside represented as a crypt, by means of re-shaping one’s physicality.  I intend to attempt to somehow minimize or deflect the negative and mutilating effect resulting from any surgery, facing this procedure as a physical transformation that availing of the medical need and motive may be now faced as semi fetishist. It is due to a this fetishistic perception of the conscious and unconscious ability to accept the introduction of foreign bodies into the human body, even if for health matters, that triggers off emotions that lead to, sometimes, unexplainable sensations. This theory of emotion, characterized by the sequence of  “Event ==> arousal ==> interpretation ==> emotion” (James-Lange) [1] within the body-technological object relationship, allows me to propose a merger of the scientific implantation of a prosthesis with the new and original concept of inner jewellery or even what could be called of Self-Satisfaction Adornment. As a hipper-valorization of the circumstance, and beseeching self-pleasure and re-designing the body, emerges the potential of encrusting diamonds on the prosthesis, turning it into a piece of exquisite jewellery that one does not wear for a public scenario but rather for what it means for the self, a hidden treasure, defying the conventional aim of adornment. Thus being the individual has control over manifesting his or her identity and in which anyone might transform him or herself according to a personal philosophy and critique of the beauty concepts currently predominant in our society.

To proceed with this hypothesis, several studies and laboratory experiments are to be done, in vivo and in corpo, with the placement of diamonds encrusted in prosthesis and placed intra-articularly for evaluation of the potential biocompatibility of this proposal, which in a first stage does not present any possible contraindication, as the diamond is the most inert element. It will be accurately calculated and controlled by the designer working in conjunction with the biomedical specialists.  Thus, the subjected, whether a performance artist or member of the public becomes as if a designer, directing and collaborating with the other participants in a unique project.

Once this ambiguous fusion is made permanent, the wearer’s/patient’s relationship to the bejeweled prosthesis element, presenting no problems whatsoever, is faced as if the desire was attained. This fetishistic dialectic between invisibility and visibility, concealing and revealing, denial and disclosure, loss and enhancement lingers on the shifting borderlines that psychoanalysis has gathered between conscious and unconscious, ego and id, and which inhabit the uncanny overlap of self and other.

Subsequently, I firstly address this research by questioning what are the socio-cultural implications of jewellery; what does it mean socially and culturally, not just technologically; and who is looking, who is seeing the jewellery and how and from where do they perceive it, considering the debate of the Visible/Invisible in regard to what is perceived by the naked eye, within body invasion/alteration. An ethic is here in play and it seeks to answer a challenge of presentation and value – how an item of prosthetic technology is fashioned, how this piece is experienced and the body experience of itself, and in what scenario can it be set.

Thus being, by having my parents, both surgeons, collaborating with my research, my aim is to shift the concept of value and luxury towards a debate on medical science and body design by starting the production of exquisite powerful objects, loaded with emotion and sensuality but cut through with social comment, generating a discussion on the new direction of social rituals, the relationship between design and science, and the problems that arise when aesthetics meets ethics.

Regarding present and future biotechnological advances that allow the praxis of an object penetrating and perforating skin and subcutaneous cellular tissue and the possibility of inserting others in a deeper level within the body, thus turning it into the manipulated surface that carries the uncanny equivalence between body and dummy and its inside represented as a crypt, by means of re-shaping one’s physicality, I present four levels of jewellery, organized by their visibility, in which I introduce the concept of sub-dermal, exo-dermal, exo-corporeal and intra-corporeal jewellery.

1st  – Sub-dermal and Exo-dermal

–  Can be seen (by the naked eye) and touched

–  Penetrates and perforates skin and subcutaneous cellular tissue – dermis, epidermis and hypodermis

–  Precious metal suture staples and suture wires/chains

Once there is the need of suturing a wound, I propose that, instead of mere surgical staples and suture threads, the patient can choose to suture his/her wound with silver, gold or platinum staples and suture wires/chain, thus turning it as if embroidering the skin and flesh with precious materials, leaving to consideration the choice of adorning the body with a ephemeral or permanent piece of jewellery, that can beautify and eventually re-shape the scar.




–  Can not be seen unless the person wearing the device allows it, making a physical effort

–  Denture, mouth device

Within orthodontics, I present the hypotheses of embellishing dentistry apparatuses, creating an interface between the visibility of the inside and outside of the wearers body, where the piece has not been surgically implanted but can not be seen unless the wearer allows it, thus making a certain physical effort, meaning in this case a forced opening of the mouth.

Gold plated Silver; Cubic Zirconia

3rd – Sub-dermal

–  Can not be seen but can be felt through touch

–  Eventually perforating skin – risk assessment still not certified

–  Clavicle plate – clavicle enhancement

Taking the primary objectives of body modification sub-dermal implants, I suggest the possibility of recreating and implanting bone plates made of precious materials that can be inserted for both health and adornment purposes. These plates are to be custom made and the shape, size and material may vary to the wearer’s wish. These can be with raised surfaces or eventually even perforating the skin, thus having direct contact with the outside.

There are still risk-assessment procedures to done within this proposal.



Anatomical model of human shoulder; Gold plated Silver; Cubic Zirconia; Surgical screws


A4 simulative photograph





4th – Intra-corporeal Prosthesis – Joint replacement

–  Can not be seen or touched, unless perceived through X-ray or any other future body scan

–  Hip replacement

As a hipper-valorization of the surgical circumstance, and beseeching self-pleasure by re-designing the body, emerges the potential of encrusting diamonds on the prosthesis, recreating its structure by turning it lighter, engraving poems or meaningful sentences/texts and playing with the way the prosthesis is perceived in the X-ray, turning it into a piece of exquisite jewellery that one does not wear for a public scenario but rather for what it means for the self, as if hidden treasure, defying the conventional aim of adornment.

Gold plated Silver

handmade Portuguese Filigree


Nickel plated Brass; Cubic Zirconia


Gold plated Silver 


Olga Noronha​


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