– personal retrospective –

Born in 1955, freelancer since 1984

“Three-dimensional, airy, miniature constructions play with light and shadow in my jewelry. My interests are the rhythm generated by alternation, the repetition of structures and typologies, and the exciting tensions between positive and negative, mass and transparency.”
Schmuck-Design der Moderne, Reinhold Ludwig, 2008, ISBN 978-3-89790-292-3

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I learned my craft in Waltraut Müller’s workshop in Bremen from 1971 to 1974. Although I was just 16 years old at the time, it was there that I developed my feeling for harmonizing sophisticated shapes and precise artisanal realization. Later, while studying in the School of Design at Pforzheim University from 1978 to 1983 and working on associated study projects under the mentorship of Professor Reinhold Reiling, I sharpened by sensitivity for detail and for the overall composition – for form and expression. After attending night school and one year prior to receiving my diploma in 1983, I passed the goldsmith’s exam and earned my master’s certificate.

After completing my academic training, the “Dieci Orafi Padovani” exhibit at Pforzheim Jewelry Museum prompted me to spend a year in Padua, where I worked in Diego Piazza’s atelier. Next, in my workshop on Fehmarn Island, I pursued my constructivist design vocabulary and crafted minimalistic artistic jewelry as one-of-a-kind pieces and in small series.
Wanderlust repeatedly spurred me to visit faraway places, but never as a vacationer. I went there to work, to get to know the people and learn about their material culture. That’s what I did in Italy and later also among the Maasai in Tanzania and finally in Nepal. I gladly shared my know-how: for example, in silversmiths’ workshops in Kathmandu as part of a UN development project or with the German Development Service at the foot of Mount Kilimanjaro.
I relocated and moved my workshop to Karlsruhe in 1990. There, where I had left my friends and colleagues before embarking on my travels, I resumed my efforts to shape metal so it seems to “grow” out of the plane and into the surrounding space.

I opened my jewelry gallery “der goldene schnitt” [“the golden section”] in Karlsruhe in 1997 so that I could provide a public forum for my own works and those of colleagues who understand jewelry in ways that I appreciate. I continued to train students and created a center for sharing and grappling with the craft.
But as the years went by, these tasks consumed so much of my schedule that I had less and less time to spend at my workbench. My yearning grew progressively stronger for the artisanal work, for “working at the bench” and for the calling that touches and expresses my innermost self!
That’s why I decided to give up the gallery in 2016. I relocated and moved my workshop to Freiburg im Breisgau.
Now I work here in peace and quiet, in an atmosphere that allows me to gradually approach a form and then integrate it into a harmonious overall image.

– my thoughts about jewelry –

When I think about jewelry, images arise inside me. Many of these images are related to my training and my work as a goldsmith and jewelry designer. They contain the professional expertise about jewelry and culture that I have been able to acquire in the course of time. Other images have to do with my childhood: I recall the time in my life when I perceived forms without thinking twice about them.

– my feeling for jewelry –

Today too, I still believe that I can sense my mother’s presence in the gentle gleam of the labradorite in her bracelet. The atmosphere that this piece of jewelry radiates for me has fused forever with my concept of jewelry.
When I design, I repeatedly find myself immersed in old, half-forgotten memories. And I try to ask myself: Precisely what character did that formal situation have? What did it mean for me at that time? What could help me to recreate that rich atmosphere, which seems to be permeated with the self-evident presence of the things themselves?
I know no experiences other that are more deeply anchored than recollections of this sort. They form the rootstock for formal moods and images which I try to fathom in my work as a designer. I sense an abundance and a richness that make me feel as though I’d seen them someplace before, although at the same time I know that everything is new and different.

– a few dates and awards –

Selected Publications

Design Report, Blue C Publishers, November 1998, page 47
Design Innovationen, 98th yearbook of the Design Zentrum of North Rhine-Westphalia
Nahe Zeitung, 57th annual edition, no. 278, page 3
Pforzheimer Zeitung, December 3, 2002, no. 280, culture section
Publico Portugal, no. 451, January 16, 2005
Wildeshauser Zeitung, 143rd annual edition, no. 70, published March 23, 2007, page 1
Badische Neueste Nachrichten, 62nd annual edition, no. 72, published March 27, 2007, page 15
Included in the catalogues of the Baden-Württemberg state exhibitions in 2016, 2012, 2010, 2004, 1998, 1996 & 1994
Schmuck-Design der Moderne, Reinhold Ludwig, 2008, ISBN 978-3-89790-292-3
Compendium, 2009, ISBN 978-3-939130-95-6, pages 935 and 936


1998 Camelot 1116, Krakow
1999 red dot award for high-quality design, Design Center of North Rhine-Westphalia
2000 Best of Selection, Design Center of North Rhine-Westphalia
2001 Innovation Prize of Munich Trade Fair
2002 33rd German Jewelry and Gemstone Award, Idar-Oberstein, commendation
2007 First prize from and commissioned by the German Foreign Ministry to create lapel pins on the occasion of Germany’s council presidency at the EU Summit

Participation in Group Exhibitions

2000 Best of Selection
2005 Museum of Art Craft Show in Philadelphia/USA
2005 Special show “German Living” in Tokyo, Japan
2007 60th anniversary exhibition of the Bund der Kunsthandwerker Baden-Württemberg
2009 Eunique Karlsruhe – fair applied arts and design
2009 Christmas fair, Baden State Museum, Karlsruhe
2010 Special show “German Living” in Shanghai, China
2010 Eunique Karlsruhe – fair applied arts and design
2018 Museum of Art and Craft Show in Philadelphia, USA

One-woman Shows

1985 Galerie Am Graben, Vienna
1986 Gallery VO, Washington, D.C.
1987 Galerie Helga Malten, Dortmund
1999 Galerie Schulte-Hengesbach, Düsseldorf
2002 Galerie Spandow, Berlin

1997 to 2016 Conceived and directed my own gallery “der goldene schnitt” in Karlsruhe
Since 2016 Atelier in Freiburg in Breisgau

The name had accompanied me for a long time – der goldene schnitt.

To dialogue directly with my jewelry’s wearers; to get out of my workshop; and to create the right surroundings for the artworks: those were my motivations for founding a gallery.
I augmented my own jewelry collection with a selection of outstanding pieces made by my friends and colleagues. Through exhibits and my shop window, I established my gallery as a forum for sharing and discussions.
My close contacts and ongoing dialogues about design with the designers and my gallery’s customers were extremely inspirational for me.
I enjoyed advising my customers, thinking things over with them, and recommending the pieces of jewelry that would suit them best.

But change and concentration are important to me too. That’s why in 2016 I decided to devote myself exclusively to my own jewelry design and to broaden the spectrum of my works.

This website offers you a little view of my atelier in Freiburg and my jewelry collection. Enjoy browsing!
If you have any questions, I would be delighted to receive your email info@christiane-iken.de

I personally handcraft each and every piece of my jewelry.

With regard to inspiration, my sequence of images reveals what moves me – in my surroundings and on my journeys. I’m a passionate collector. And all of these things surround me. And I develop my designs – my jewelry – from my dialogue with them.

What might interest you? My favorite way to spend time? How I see things? How my jewelry comes to be? What moves me? The context or the derivation from a spider’s web to a piece of jewelry? What I think about while designing? My process? Which design vocabulary is mine?

Three important ideas:

Each piece of jewelry should move with suppleness and be tempting to touch – so it will be worn with pleasure.

We are three-dimensional beings. I also understand my jewelry this way: it should look good from all sides.

With downright fanaticism, I experience the greatest delight by sensing the textures and forms that surround me. I’m enthralled by every kind of sculpture and by the physicality in architecture and nature.

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These structures are the basis of my jewelry-making. They embrace my seeing and my feeling. They influence my thinking and serve as my source of inspiration.
My perception is subjective and personal. I find newness. I see interesting relationships. I develop, invent and play with my collections and from them.

The process of designing is based on a continual interplay between emotion and reason. The feelings and preferences that arise and yearn to become forms should be critiqued by a rational mind. My feeling tells me whether abstract notions are harmonious and appropriate. There’s plenty of work, but also much joy, behind every impression of lightness.

When I work on a design, I allow myself to be guided by recollected moods which I can bring into relationship with the form I’m seeking.
While I’m designing, I try to find out what my memories and feelings mean for me so I can draw conclusions about how to translate them into forms and moods in jewelry. Details gain added significance.

Beyond its ornamental aspect, it would be lovely if my piece of jewelry would become a personal symbol and if its wearer would associate it with stories and memories.

My jewelry isn’t only based on structures: each piece should also symbolize structure, order, permanence and constancy. My jewelry radiates serenity and bestows identity, also – and especially – in our continually changing daily lives.