JAA Australasian Jewellery Design Awards

Inspiration for Maria Kostina’s winning piece came from a walk around the rockpools at Sydney’s Collaroy. She saw an opportunity to create a piece of…

Inspiration for Maria Kostina’s winning piece came from a walk around the rockpools at Sydney’s Collaroy. She saw an opportunity to create a piece of jewellery that was not only beautiful, but which also carried an important message, as all jewellery does, she says.

The rockpools at Collaroy have tiny sea creatures living in them such as anemone, crabs, sea urchins and more. One morning I saw a sea urchin shell just lying on top of one of the rocks and it made me think. If we don’t preserve the oceans’ wildlife now, we will only see the shells like this in the museums. The “Sea Urchin on the Rockpools” design is an advocate for all the sea creatures and animals. I created a statement cocktail ring which, I hope, will spark a conversation and focus some attention on the issues of ocean pollution and the preservation of sea-life. Art and jewellery are conversation starters and I hope that this ring will raise issues and educate everyone who comes across it and make them interested in this global problem.

The result which I’m trying to achieve is to keep oceans clean and help preserve sea animals and sea life safe for future generations. I like think the piece is already having some impact, having been selected as a finalist and winning the People’s Choice Award. For me, jewellery is a miniature wearable art piece which represents a point in life for a person. The pieces are meaningful and might not look like the event which they are representing, but in the beholder’s eye, the jewellery is a time capsule and the preservation of that point of time of their life. Jewellery is body adornment too, which is about representing personal style. The wearer is adorning themselves in jewellery to show the world their personality, style, and character – a voice and an unsaid message.

This award is definitely a special achievement for me and a proud one which I have strived for and was such a surprise and an honour to receive! I believe that this is a stepping stone in my career and an acknowledgement that I will use as a momentum to commence my jewellery design collection as this has provided me with all the confidence necessary to succeed providing me with the recognition from the public. My current plans in the works are to create two jewellery collections and to set up a studio for client meetings. My dream is to create art jewellery and hopefully enter other markets like USA, Middle East, or Japan in the near future. As a CAD designer for the trade, I don’t make too many physical pieces or in fact I don’t get much of a chance to bring to life and create my ideas, and so this competition gave me a great reason to make something I’m passionate about – to tell a story and to execute a complex piece to be shown as my vision to the public eye. Design competitions are highly motivating, though it’s not about winning.

It’s about creating a piece within a short timeframe that really pushes you to make and execute a project within the extreme deadlines It has also taught me to be patient and have resilience! I believe more designers should enter this competition and showcase their work because I meet so many designers just in Sydney who are hesitant, and they have incredible pieces! The important part of the competition is to see and showcase all the talent we have across Australasia and this needs to be brought to spotlight for the public eye. My advice is just to “go for it” and make something that is you, creative and unique, pushing your own boundaries as a designer and creating a challenging piece which you can learn from.

I’d like to thank my team for making this happen in such a short turn-around. Their patience and attention to detail to make it right, particularly because we started making it during the lockdown when the due date for the entry was in July 2021, and we had only one week to physically create the piece as I just came out of hotel quarantine! Most importantly I’d like to thank my parents, my family and friends and each and every person who has voted and supported me along the way. It’s been a truly humbling experience and I couldn’t believe the amount of support that I have received! I’d like to dedicate this award to each and every person who has voted for my piece. Your support has provided me with such a boost of confidence and the belief that I’m on the right path doing what I love and, most of all, that there is an audience out there for my designs.

JAA Australasian Jewellery Awards

“My jewellery tries to be dynamic in meaning,” says Roberto Mattei, a third-time winner of the JAA Awards CAD category. “I always try to insert…

“My jewellery tries to be dynamic in meaning,” says Roberto Mattei, a third-time winner of the JAA Awards CAD category. “I always try to insert mechanisms and customisations that include the wearer in the meaning and that will change daily and forever. My jewellery is not a picture of your memories, but a movie about them.”

For me, every spark of inspiration I get starts from the beauty of the natural creations around us. The meaning behind this piece comes from the depth of the ocean, which has as many secrets and mysterious creatures as the depths of space.

These earrings, with a sophisticated and unique coupling mechanism for the lowest part, represent the fascinating and powerful suction of an octopus’s tentacles. My goal was to have a jewel that changes with the wearer. It follows your differences and allows you to be part of the creating process, changing with your mood and daily fashion. It is always in mutation—shapes and colours— exactly like an octopus. Exactly as you. As a form of art, jewellery is like a memory that is constantly in our lives. For me, it’s a need, which is never filled because art, memory, personal expression is always changing and growing with us.

They are precious things—jewels and memories—and you always want them with you. Here is my art, I say. Fix it into metal. As a wearer of jewellery, I only wear what has meaning for me, but as a creator, I am constantly challenging myself. I’m always thinking about the future and the next step that will bring me there, with my art. Winning an award, especially here in Australia, makes me to feel part of the community. I feel as if this win contributes not just to my personal success but helps in raising the profile of jewellery in this country and representing it to the world. Participating in competitions, particularly the JAA Awards, has become an obsession for me but it’s only recently that I’ve understood why.

A diamond is created under high pressure and high temperature and it turns out that applies to me too. I found myself always able to produce amazing things under a big pressure to compete and deliver the best possible result in a defined timeframe. Errors, hesitations, frustrations are all there with me in the creation moment. I feel already like a winner when I dominate all those ghosts and the piece takes form. Winning the competition is a plus which I always like to share and dedicate to all the people and suppliers who joined with me in the journey of creating the piece.

To my colleagues, I really recommend entering the JAA jewellery awards as the challenge and competition will increase as more and more people join in and that will benefit us all—as artists and as an industry. The only suggestion that I would make is to draw inspiration from an unusual input such as nature, science, mechanical things, numbers… Don’t contaminate your brain with someone else’s job. In my future products I see innovation and communication. The jewellery I’m looking at will always be disruptive and unique. That’s my style.

If I had a dream, I would love to create a team of jewellers able to blend together as one person, so that we could take on big challenges then create the impossible. Who I am as a jeweller is a distillation of the training I’ve received and the dedication I give to everything I study in life. Every time I draw the first line of a new job I picture in my mind all the teachers, masters and professors who have helped me throughout my career. Their gifts to me indirectly contribute to this success which grows every day. Thank you also to all my customers, my friends and the people who sustain me. And to the best workmate ever, Myra, my partner and my future wife.

JAA Australasian Jewellery Awards

Benjamin Tracy says he has kept his eye on the winning pieces of the JAA competition with amazement and had always planned, one day, to…

Benjamin Tracy says he has kept his eye on the winning pieces of the JAA competition with amazement and had always planned, one day, to enter with a piece of his own. Last year, he felt the time was right, and his win in 2021 only inspired him to enter again this year.

My piece was inspired by the Dutch artist MC Escher. It must have been subliminal, because I didn’t set out to pay homage to this artist, but ever since I was young, I was captivated by so-called impossible constructions, such as his 1960 lithograph “Ascending and Descending”.

While I was sketching out ideas, the right side of my mind must have been drawing on those early influences. I named this ring in French—“Le Chemin des Rêves”—because I spent years designing and making jewellery in France which had always been a dream of mine when I was studying as an apprentice here on the Gold Coast. It translates as “The Pathway to Dreams” and I do believe that it’s those dreams that I’ve had along the pathway of life that keep inspiring me.

I’ve always loved designing and creating thought-provoking pieces, but sometimes I get caught up in the infinite day-to-day activities. When there is an opportunity to create a piece for an Awards its finite. This pushes me to challenge my thoughts and skills of how jewellery can look, feel and be crafted.

For me, jewellery has been a form of art more than anything else. In fact, before I became a jeweller, I wanted to create artworks, but was never quite sure in which medium, and it wasn’t until an excursion to an art school that I discovered silver and goldsmithing, and realized that was how I wanted express myself. As much as a sculpture or a canvas evokes certain emotions, so too does a piece of jewellery, but with the added benefit that jewellery adorns the wearer, is transportable and can be enjoyed no matter where or when.

It sounds cliché but winning this award means a lot to me. It reminds me how fortunate I am that I can make jewellery, that people are touched in some way by a piece that has come to life from my heart and head through my hands, and this win has encouraged me to continue making unique pieces. I think that The JAA Awards are such an institution here in Australia, and its such a fantastic opportunity for jewellers to showcase their ideas and skills. It’s a great promotion of Australian jewellery and it’s really never too early or too late to give it a go. You may just surprise yourself and others while you’re at it.

It’s been 33 years since I started my life as a jeweller, and it has presented me with so many opportunities and life-changing experiences. Commencing as an apprentice on the Gold Coast to spending a year working with goldsmiths in Bali, then having the honour of working at ‘The Crown Jewellers’ Garrard & Asprey in London for a decade.

After living and working in France for nearly five years, I returned to Australia, where I reside back on the Gold Coast with my French wife, Soazig, and our four kids. And it is all those experiences that inspire the jewellery that I create. I have been fortunate enough to work with some fantastic craftspeople throughout my career and it is thanks to them, and the opportunities they provided me, that I’m the jeweller I am today. Now, running my business for eight years, I’d like to thank my dedicated team and our loyal clients, for without them none of this would be possible.

JAA Australasian Jewellery Awards

Michael Muratore says he fell into the jewellery at the age of 15 and has enjoyed every moment of the journey since. Seven years ago,…

Michael Muratore says he fell into the jewellery at the age of 15 and has enjoyed every moment of the journey since. Seven years ago, he started Murazzo, with the dream to make his company renowned world-wide as an Australian jeweller of the highest quality one-of-a-kind handmade creations. Here are Michael’s words on his winning piece and his place in the Australian jewellery industry.

This piece was inspired by my fascination with Australian sapphires. I love the vast array of colours the sapphires produce and I wanted to create a piece that showcased this beauty. Having access to some of the largest and most unique Australian sapphires allowed me to create a showpiece that pushed all boundaries. The Cascade earrings are an ode to the many different landscapes that span across our beautiful country such as the bright blue Pacific ocean, the lush green rainforests and the stunning yellow sands of the Australian coastline.

The earrings are a representation of my life’s work—a combination of the technical skills and artistic vision that I have perfected over a 22 year career. Every skill I have learnt in the trade has been incorporated into this design—from the faceting of gems to handmaking jewellery to diamond setting, this piece was brought to life by my single pair of hands. With over 360 hours of labour from start to finish, these earrings challenged me in ways I’ve never been challenged before.

I believe that jewellery is one of the greatest artforms of all time. As a jewellery creator, you have the ability to imagine a design in your mind and then transform the most precious metals and gems into a work of art. The greatest form of expression is to create something you love every day. I believe there is a little piece of myself in every creation. Entering this award competition challenged me to operate outside of the box of traditional jewellery design and manufacture.

A competition of this calibre requires you to bring your best of your skills and ability to the table to be judged by the industry’s best. It has taught me that even after 22 years there is always a higher level you can take your work to and you should never stop learning and striving for more. The awards pushed me beyond my limits and set a new standard for the work I want to regularly create. I encourage everyone in the industry, regardless of your experience, to utilise the amazing opportunity the JAA awards offer.

The process of creating an award entry is the most rewarding part. It teaches you so many valuable skills and lessons you would not otherwise experience. Winning the colour category and being awarded as Jeweller of the Year is one of the proudest moments of my career. This honour not only creates credibility and trust with my clients but also within the jewellery industry. I see a very bright future ahead filled with endless Australian sapphire creations that have never been seen before. I am determined to keep innovating and advancing my skills to see how far I can evolve as a jewellery artist. I truly feel blessed to be part of such an amazing industry.

I want to thank all the amazing craftspeople who have given me the invaluable gift of knowledge and time. Thanks also to the Australian Natural Sapphire Company for their trust in supplying me with the finest Australian sapphire rough to cut the stones in the award pieces. I’m honoured to be in partnership with such an amazing company.

Thank you to the JAA for all the hard work that has been invested into this competition. Most of all, thank you to my beautiful wife Natalie and my three children for believing in me to keep achieving my goals and dreams.

JAA Australasian Jewellery Awards

Claire has been at the bench for five years, but jewellery has been in her soul her whole life. Her story shows that inspiration can…

Claire has been at the bench for five years, but jewellery has been in her soul her whole life. Her story shows that inspiration can come from something as aimless as doodling and as deep as a memory in your heart.

I’m a second-generation jeweller. I was lucky enough to learn my trade from my Dad before he sadly passed away last year. I was his biggest fan—the talent, love, and passion he had for jewellery definitely came through to me. Dad taught me the importance of ‘well-made’. When I was 18, he made me a record player ring covered in black and white diamonds. The record spun around on a rivet. Moving jewellery is incredible and I love that the wearer can feel they have a part in the piece, just like the movement of my Awards piece—the pendant on the chain.

Jewellery is 100% an art form. Creativity, love, and passion go into the making and wearing of jewellery. I wear jewellery as a form of art and to express myself as an individual. I love chunky, heavy, and unusual jewellery. Asymmetrical has always interested me in all ways of creativity, so this tends to show in the jewellery I design and have always worn right from a teenager.

Dad told me when I was an apprentice that I should make something for the JAA. Annoyingly, life got in the way. He told me how important it is to push yourself and to put yourself out there for everyone to see. So, this year was my year.

My boss, Andrew, and I were looking at stones we had in stock to get inspiration. I love ancient jewellery and mythology like the Aztecs and Egyptians, so my mind always tends to go on that path. This drawing came from me doodling on a sketch pad using the stone that Andrew was actually going to use. He looked at my sketch and said, “Do that! You should do that.”

The piece itself changed a little along the way when making it—as you know metal doesn’t work as easy as drawing an image. Having the piece 3D was something I really wanted to concentrate on, so that’s when having the tapered bars sit back and forward on the piece came together. When the piece was completed I had to think of a name. The V shape was shouting out at me—Venus, Venus, Venus! So, Hesperus was born. In Greek mythology, he is the evening star, a son of the dawn goddess.

Entering the awards has shown me that I’m a far better jeweller than I thought. It’s funny, maybe it’s just me, but I always think I’m just ok. This experience and getting my name out there in the jewellery world has given me confidence to grow as a jeweller and has got the creative juices flowing. It’s taught me to push myself even further. When I was nominated for the jeweller of the year award I was blown away. Never did I think those words would be before my name. The next day I was already thinking about what can I make next year to blow the judges away again.

I’ve always thought it’s important to have an open mind and be progressive so I hope my jewellery making career is full of lots of different styles and that I can learn from a wide range of different jewellers. I’d like to say a massive thank you to my boss Andrew and the team at Diamond Jewellery Manufacturers, where I’ve been working for the two years, for all their advice, direction and support. And thanks to my Dad for pushing me to be confident in my work and for being that little voice in my head saying, “Do it.”

JAA Australasian Jewellery Awards

Aden Wylie is an apprentice with Melbourne-based jewellers MDT Design. He joins a collective of master jewellers with an impressive record of award wins, numerous…

Aden Wylie is an apprentice with Melbourne-based jewellers MDT Design. He joins a collective of master jewellers with an impressive record of award wins, numerous JAA Award wins amongst them. So it is no surprise that Aden’s work attracted the attention of the judges in this year’s competition.

My inspiration for this piece came from my love for the night sky. I love a dark night full of stars and I used constellations as a way to incorporate that into my work. In my piece, the gold ball signifies a bright orange moon and the platinum sphere was used to have the piece spin to see all the different constellations around the ball.

I saw the JAA awards as a learning opportunity. Entering was definitely a good chance to try new techniques and different ways to get to the end product. It also taught me about my work and what style I enjoy making, and winning the award did very much give me more confidence in my abilities. I am very lucky to have won this award and cannot describe the feeling. I believe it will definitely impact my career path in the future and I am looking forward to seeing what opportunities come from this experience.

I entered the awards to push my skills and abilities making jewellery and to try designing my own piece which I could interpret some of my personality into. I really recommend entering the award to other jewellers and apprentices. It was a lot of fun coming up with a design and it is a great way to showcase your personal style of jewellery.

I would very much like to thank Greg and Nick for taking me on as an apprentice and giving me the opportunity to create my own piece in the JAA Awards. Also, a big thank you to everyone else at MDT Design.