Precious? / Canada


Ruff subverts a historically potent symbol of status and wealth, questioning who and what is precious.

While Ruff appears to be an Elizabethan frippery of fabric, on closer appraisal it betrays itself as gloves worn by medical professionals, who, throughout the opioid crisis and pandemic, put their lives at risk for others. Its almost 150 nitrile gloves and two disposable latex tourniquets are ubiquitous litter in Vancouver’s downtown eastside, ground zero for Canada’s opioid crisis.

Pre-pandemic, nitrile gloves were worthless, but with its onset, their value soared. These gloves encircle a neck like a noose, its silver clasp, a cross, a symbol of protection divided, seeps blue tourniquets, as if royal blood.

Empty fingers point at the viewer and demand: Whose life is precious? Whose life do we save? Ruff confronts the tragedies of the opioid crisis and pandemic, and challenges expectations of adornment and what, and who, is precious.



Neck piece, 2019

Nitrile gloves, latex tourniquets, fabric, sterling silver


Carmel Boerner lives in Vancouver, BC, Canada, on the unceded homelands of the Coast Salish peoples. She graduated from Vancouver Community College’s Jewellery Art and Design Program in 2017.

She has worked for almost 30 years in various non-profits in Canada and the U.S. Her work can be found online at and has been exhibited in the U.S. and Canada. As an eternal student and lover of a deadline, she is inspired by exhibition calls and thrives on creating pieces around a concept, exploring new materials and techniques.

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