Dr Roberta Bernabei is a lecturer in 3D Design, Silversmithing and Jewellery. She completed a BA (Hons) in Sculpture at the Accademia di Belle Arti Pietro Vannucci in 1993, in Perugia, Italy. She worked for the Italian French artist Faust Cardinali at ARTSENAL in Paris (1993-94). She continued her study in Advertising Communication, Storytelling and Culture of Image (ComPSI) at Universita’ per Stranieri, Department of Lettere e Cultura Italiana (1995-98), Perugia. She then ‎went on to obtain an MA Degree in Jewellery & Metalsmith in 2002 at Sheffield Hallam University (with Prof. Christoph Zellweger). Before joining Loughborough University as a lecturer in 2004, she also studied Schmuckgestaltung at Fachhochschule für Gestaltung (with Prof. Manfred Bischoff), Schwäbisch-Gmünd, D. and at The European Ceramic Work Centre (with Prof. Otto Künzli), Den Bosch, NL.

She holds a Ph.D. from Loughborough University with the thesis ‘Jewellery Theory and Practice: An investigation into emotionally invested and mnemonic jewellery through senstitising materials’. Since 2015 she is a Fellow of the Higher Education Academy.

Bernabei’s current research concerns emotionally embedded artefacts and their impact on our ‘self’ and as an aid to wellbeing. Other research interests include the application of Rapid Prototyping to reinvigorate traditional goldsmith techniques. Her latest curatorial project investigates possibilities of wideningfruition of jewellery exhibitions through sensory and digital experience. Bernabei’s research outputs include a monographic book, journal articles, chapters and exhibitions.

Dr Roberta Bernabei is a leading researcher in the field of Craft/Design Jewellery Research as an academic and instigator of the Journal of Jewellery Research.

She is a lecturer in Critical & Historical Studies and Jewellery at Loughborough University. She is visiting Reader at Birmingham City University in the Institute of Jewellery, Fashion and Textiles, including the role as international ambassador of the Institute and the ‘Craft Cultures’ research cluster. Since 2015 she has been passionately active in building the field of Craft/Design Jewellery Research through instigating and leading the Journal of Jewellery Research

She has gained international reputation based on her research contribution in the field with a monographic book, journal articles, chapters and exhibitions. Bernabei’s research profile in art jewellery exhibition design and its collective process counts fifty-six exhibitions until 2020.  With some notable venues such as the Museum of Arts & Crafts, Itami; Museum of Contemporary Craft, Portland; Museo Arti Decorative, Turin; and Kunstgeweremuseum, Berlin. She has gained fundingfrom EPSRC (Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council), private institutions to Arts Council Individual Grants bringing to the research in the field ca. 200K and for specialised equipment in 3D printing and 4 axis CNC equipment ca. 285K. Bernabei is a member of the Digital Design Research Group: Digital Design & Fabrication lead by Prof. Richard Bibb.

She has strengthening the PhD research supervisory community in the field, especially at the School of Design and Creative Arts where she is leading a group of five PhD candidates. She regularly acts as internal reviewer and external PhD examiner, including PhD external advisor for Birmingham City University and Northumbria University (2016 & 2018). She has also run Academic writing workshops in the field, the latest was held at NYC Jewellery Week 2020, she continues fostering connections between international PhD candidates who operate in the same field through a PhD Map on the JJR platform.

Bernabei’s current research concerns emotionally embedded artefacts, their impact on our ‘self’ and as an aid to wellbeing. Other research interests include the application of Rapid Prototyping to reinvigorate traditional goldsmith techniques.

Bernabei’s first book: Contemporary Jewellers: Interviews with European Artists (Berg, 2011) provides insights into the practices of 25 of Europe’s leading contemporary jewellers by exploring the creative, conceptual and technical working practices that underpin the aesthetic of each practitioner's work. In addition, the interviews shed insights into jewellers’ design research methodologies and their ideas relating to functionality and the human body. Major jewellery artists presented include Wendy Ramshaw, Gijs Bakker, Otto Kuenzli, Mario Pinton and Tone Vigeland.

In 2017, the chapter Jewellery Can Be Worn Too, was published by Routledge in the following book of edited essays, Tchotchkes in the White Cube: Exhibiting Craft and Design in the 20th Century investigates jewellery’s dual existence in that despite being made to wear, it can spend much of its life not being worn. The text explores how the relationship between contemporary jewellery and the human body it adorns has developed in the exhibition setting from the 1980s onwards, and the extent to which jewellery artists have challenged and transformed traditional modes of display to expand the language of jewellery.

Her latest essay, The Poetry of Sensitising Materials, concerned the world of sensing as a felt phenomenology in the field of jewellery making. It was published by Arnoldsche as part of the edited essays in Annamaria Zanella Poetry of Material book (2018).  

Module Leader for:

  • SAB937 Experiential Design: Body Adornments and New Technologies

Roberta Bernabei contributes to the following theoretical and studio UG and PGT modules:

  • SAA801 Visual Communication
  • SAB933 Material Culture
  • SAC940 Dissertation in Art and Design
  • SAP105 Design and Research

Bernabei was the Programme Director of Silversmithing and Jewellery BA (hons) Programme until 2008 and Postgraduate Programmes Director of five MA programmes until 2014 at Loughborough University.

Professional Membership

  • Fellow of the Higher Education Academy
  • Senior Member of: AGC (Association of Contemporary Jewellery)  Italy;
  • ACJ (Association of Contemporary Jewellery);
  • Society of Jewellery Historians, UK.

Academic article reviewer for:

  • Journal of Material Thinking
  • Journal for Artistic Research

Writer for:

  • The Journal of Modern Craft
  • Klimt02
  • AJF (American Jewellery Forum)

PhD completion:

  • Johnny XuColour Identity in Urban Environments, co-supervised with Rob Harland. 

Current PhD supervisions: 

  • Yueyang SunTechnological Innovation in Antique Ming dynasty Chinese Filigree for Jewellery Design Development.
  • Jie Sun: Contemporary Art Jewellery in art therapy (provisional title)
  • Zelal Basodan: Emerging Islamic Studio Ceramics: Remaking Cultural Heritage Artefacts from Alhambra Palace
  • Renjie Yang: Developing the Creative Cluster from the Perspective of the Cultural Industry: A Case Study of the Chinese Yaozhou Kiln 
  • Wenyan LuoReinvigorate Chinese Inlay Technique in Jewellery Design and Practice with the use of CAD/CAM applications. (provisional title)

Bernabei welcomes applications for doctoral studies in contemporary jewellery, design and crafts within a practice-led research framework, jewellery and artifacts as an aid for wellbeing.