Forensic jewellery: A marriage of two fields

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Jewellery’s potential as a tool in the identification of the deceased is increasingly referenced within the scientific process of forensic human identification. Jewellery’s prevalence in society, potential to corroborate ‘primary’ methods of identification (such as DNA, fingerprinting and odontology) in addition to its generally robust physical form, means that jewellery is increasingly cited as a key form of evidence in death, crime and disaster investigations.

This paper introduces a new creative methodology for contemporary jewellery; scoping the exploratory and highly-interdisciplinary proposition of ‘Forensic Jewellery’ – jewellery as a method of forensic human identification. It questions the appropriateness and effectiveness of the methods and techniques present in the field of jewellery design when transferred into the new context of forensic science; drawing upon a broad range of examples from both literature and practice that highlight the unusually symbiotic relationships between the two (at first, seemingly polarized) fields.

The work is informed by the perspective, experiences and interpretations of the author as a contemporary jeweller exploring and prototyping the emergent new role of ‘Forensic Jeweller’ – a jeweller operating within, or whose work pertains to, the field of forensic science. It aims to open up a dialogue surrounding the need for jewellery designers and forensic practitioners to work together in co-designing a hybrid methodology; encompassing methods and approaches from both fields in order to further mutual understanding of jewellery’s potential in forensic settings.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)41-59
JournalJournal of Jewellery Research
Publication statusPublished - 23 Mar 2020


  • jewellery
  • forensics
  • identity
  • death
  • the human body
  • identification
  • crime science
  • disaster
  • co-design


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