DIANA: Can you tell us a little bit about your design process?
ALEXANDRA: My work is very process based and experimental, each piece often influencing the next. I usually start by imitating geological shapes, eroded textures and organic forms of the natural world, but like to embrace the unintentional details that happen while working directly with the materials- be that the way the wax melts or cracks, a file mark or fingerprint, the dust that molten wax picks up… I love the way these little details reference the sculptural process and the hands of the maker once immortalised in metal.
What techniques do you use for creating the jewellery?
I primarily use the lost wax casting process, so each piece is first hand sculpted from wax, and then cast into metal. I like to use unconventional tools and improvisational processes to manipulate the wax and achieve unique textures and forms.
What is your favourite stone to work with?
Australian sapphires - they come in the most beautiful colour spectrum of blue-green-yellow, and everything in-between. I particularly love the bi-coloured ‘Parti Sapphires’.
How did you get into jewellery making? Is it something you’ve always been interested in?
My jewellery practice has evolved very organically. I studied Fine Arts in Auckland NZ where I had a sculpture and drawing practice, a friend at university made small cast bronze sculptures who introduced me to the process of lost wax casting. I made about 7 pieces, they were very large rather impractical sculptural pieces. I was working at a busy cafe in Wellington at the time and started selling pieces off my hands and picking up private commissions just from word of mouth.
I was never very interested in jewellery growing up, I think because my idea of it was always very feminine, shiny and sparkly, which was not me at all. Until I began making my own pieces, it changed my view of what jewellery is and could be.
I think my naivety of traditional jewellery making processes when I was starting out helped me to be more experimental and develop my own aesthetic. Along the way I have attended courses in casting, stone setting and metal-smithing to refine and develop my technical skills.
What is the most special piece you have ever designed?
A gold signet ring I made for my Dad for his 80th birthday. I thought it might just be something that he wore on special occasions, but he never takes it off.
Some of your pieces are made by 100% recycled metals and a lot of the diamonds and stones you choose to use are locally sourced. Is sustainability an important part of your design?
The jewellery and gemstone industry can have very negative impacts to the environment, as well as being very problematic both ethically and socially. When selecting my materials I try and make the most responsible and considered decisions. I do this by either sourcing my materials as locally as possible, using Australian gemstones and diamonds, recycling metals, repurposing gemstones, using reusable packaging and recyclable shipping materials. Every piece is handmade to order so that I don’t overproduce.
I am always reviewing my processes and making changes if I find a better alternative, while also doing my best try to educate my customers in making more considered decisions when choosing their materials.
Tell us a bit about where your diamonds are sourced from?
The diamonds I primarily use in my pieces are of Australian Origin, from the Argyle mine in WA - they are fully traceable from mine to market. Argyle is committed to the preservation of the environment and has environmental programmes in place to prevent, minimise, remediate the mines environmental impacts.
What is one of the most rewarding aspect of jewellery design?
I am so grateful when beautiful stores and galleries choose to stock my jewellery, and when clients trust me to make personal pieces to commemorate the most important occasions in their lives.
Has growing up and living in New Zealand influenced your aesthetic?
The NZ landscape played an early inspiration in the aesthetic of my work, but I think New Zealand influenced how I think about and run my business more than anything. New Zealand is very small and rather intimate, I always found other more established designers to be incredibly supportive & generous with their time & knowledge.
What was it like being trained by Berlin jeweller Rolf Linder?
I enrolled in this course in Berlin when I was travelling around Europe for 6 months. It was rather challenging to begin with, as Rolf didn’t speak any English, and I didn’t speak any German. Some other students helped with the translation so it was a very a valuable learning experience. My favourite part was swinging molten metal over my head using a centrifugal-force casting process with a hand sling.
Your studio is based in Chippendale Sydney, where are some of your favourite places to go in this area?
Chippendale is full of beautiful little cafes, restaurants and galleries. Some places I frequent are Brickfields for coffee, LP’s & Ester for a treat, White Rabbit Contemporary Art Gallery and Arcadia in Redfern are all a short walk from the studio.
Are you planning to visit anywhere in Perth as its your first time in our city?
I only have a day or two this trip, being winter I think I will stay within the city and explore some local restaurants and galleries... I am hoping to get some tips from the Dilettante family how to best spend my time! ✹
Dilettante invites you to an intimate evening with Alexandra Dodds.
The Sydney based designer will be joining us in store to showcase her collection of jewels inspired by geological shapes, eroded textures and organic forms.
The exclusive collection will be available to order until the 1st of August.
Thursday July 18.
6 - 9pm
4 Bayview Terrace
Featured rings, top to bottom:
Teeth Gem Ring, $230
Cirus Ring, $255
Cyrus Ring Gold, $680
Fire & Ice Creature Ring, $525
Sutro Ring, $450
Cirus Ring, $680
Creature Ring, $1875
Atlas Ring, $1590
Nine Diamond Ring, $1125
Sutro Ring, $450
Atlas Ring, $1590
Creature Ring, $375
Cirus Ring, $680
Atlas ring, $1590
Creature ring, $1875