Capturing a moment of nature’s perfect beauty is no simple task – it seems fleeting and ephemeral. Yet, in the hands of master artisans a bloom’s beauty is crystallised and preserved as a piece of jewellery that gives it eternal life.
Australian jewellers David and Michael Robinson, of David Michael Jewels, produce just 15 pieces of luxury jewellery each year, and every piece is an exquisite expression of their art and craft. Born in New Zealand, raised in Europe and now residents of the Gold Coast, twins David and Michael have followed in the footsteps of their father, a jeweller who worked for companies including Chaumet, a Parisian jeweller founded in 1780, and Backes & Strauss, the world’s oldest diamond company.
Their work is inspired by the beauty of the natural world – whether that’s a delicate piece of flora or a show-stopping gem that demands special attention. Each piece begins with an exquisitely rendered artwork in watercolours or gouache before stones are collected and the piece is painstakingly brought to life. “Although I see the concept of a jewel very clearly in my mind, I prefer to draw it up before using it as a reference during the process,” says Michael. “While our pieces find loving homes with clients from all over the world, the remaining designs get filed away in our archives and stay with me. We spend a lot of time with each piece in our hands while creating them, so the gouache designs are my keepsake to remind me of that love.”
Many of their pieces are heavily pavéd, with hundreds of precious gems used to create shade and nuance that brings the original gouache design to life. “We use pavé like an artist would use paint,” explains Michael, “since the possible hue spectrum and combinations are limitless. It’s so satisfying watching the cool grey of platinum disappear under a bed of colourful gems, building up the desired picture one stone at a time just like brushstrokes. Using many smaller gems of differing shades allows us to add highlights or shadows within a petal and add depth. It’s not unusual for us to spend a month or more on pavé setting a single piece.”
The brothers maintain full creative and manufacturing control over every piece, which includes cocktail and engagement rings, earrings and brooches, and their techniques are the same as those used by bespoke jewellers for generations. “We make our pieces the same way they would have been made in the finest workshops a hundred years ago,” says David, “and do not delegate or outsource any part of the production of our jewels. Michael paints the designs by hand, then one of us makes it in our own studio workshop, including setting the stones – a process that most bench jewellers outsource. Then finally I do the photography of the finished piece, after which it is ready to go to its existing or future owner.” Select pieces from David Michael Jewels are now on display at Fairfax & Roberts.
A moment of natural beauty, captured and immortalised in precious gems and metals is truly a rare thing.