Forks have been around for a long time and while originally used as two tined cooking implements, they became objects for decoration early on as well. It just makes sense that as common, everyday items, forks were more or less ripe for decoration and often, elaborate decoration at that. The most often flat end of the handle was viewed as a natural place for both plain or symbolic embellishment that could be used in religious ceremonies.
Believe it or not, forks weren't used for eating for many centuries instead being preferred primarily for cooking purposes only. It was considered barbaric to eat food with anything other than one's own hands! In spite of this however, the fork, as an object for decoration, continued throughout the centuries. The results of this centuries long fork decorating trend are indeed a massive collection of gorgeously designed and embellished forks. This trend applied to spoons and other eating utensils as well and has been sufficiently popular to create cadres of people who simply collect both historic and contemporary forks and spoons. This fascination with cutlery decoration continues well into today where picking out ones wedding utensils, for example, is a common occurence and a well practiced ritual.
It's hard to say exactly when forks began being used to make jewelry. Although I can only personally date its existence to the 1970's, it's hard to imagine that fork jewelry didn't arise before that time.
As I said, my first exposure to fork jewelry was in the early 1970's, hippie days, when re-cycling was a sort of cultural sub-theme. In those days, it was easy to tell the jewelry was made from forks because, well, the jewelry looked like forks or sections of forks. Rings were the most common jewelry items probably because it's simple to just saw off the bottom part of the handle (where it's most decorated) and wrap it into a ring. Often sections like that similar to rings were used to make simple pendants as well. I was so fascinated by these clever pieces of jewelry that I still have my original fork ring!
In any event, I didn't see fork jewelry for many years until just recently. Last year, while doing my usual art fair rounds, I spotted two rather unique lines of artisan jewelry (a rare event) only this time I couldn't tell that they were made from forks. As experienced a metalsmith as I am, it took me some time, staring at these jewelry lines, to tell that they were made from forks, ha! What's changed from the 70's fork jewelry? More sophistication. Both of these lines used not only the end of the fork handle but they used the fork tines (the things we use to spear the food) to imbed stones! Wow! The fork tines had been bent into sinewy forms, curved around to hold the stones in the most interesting and beautiful ways. Of course, I had to buy a few pieces.
If you're new to fork jewelry options or a jewelry enthusiast that's looking for a place to start making simple metal and or silver jewelry, take a few minutes to watch this very short video on how it's done: Just CLICK HERE and enjoy learning about making bracelet and necklace fork jewelry.