Art is experiential. Our emotional, instinctive response to art is the keystone to experiencing it. Research shows that the neurological processes which underpin our perception of art differ from those used in standard object recognition. We use the bits of the brain involved in the experience of emotion when we see art.
Similarly, for many artists and artisans (and certainly for me) the experience of creating is emotional and instinctive. When I sit down at my bench to work on a piece I have, in my mind, a visual image of what it is I am setting out to create. Oftentimes, the finished piece differs from this initial image as my process is organic, constantly shifting as I re-shape the piece as it evolves. My work is purposefully rustic reflecting my love for this aesthetic. My solder joins, hammer or tool marks are often visible on the finished piece. For me, these are beautiful because they reflect the processes and techniques used in creation and are signposts to the journey a piece has taken with me.
I select my materials using this same emotional process. Stones are chosen not for the usual measures of their worth (grade, clarity, colour, cut) but more instinctively. I imagine, if you hooked me up to brain-scanner, the regions of my brain involved in emotion would be firing as I select my materials. My response to a particular material (stone, fiber, metal) is more important, to me, than that material's name, perceived value or the qualities that someone else has ascribed to it. That is not to say that I do not assess for certain characteristics - strength, robustness, cost. How a material will work in jewelry is, or course, vastly important. Jewelry and adornment has a purpose and it is very important that my pieces fulfil this purpose.
Is jewelry art? I don't really know the answer to this. I do know and believe that art is not an outcome but is a process. For this reason, I consider myself an artist.