All art and design is a product of society and culture, which in turn are communicated through objects – from furniture to artwork. For contemporary jewellery designer and former geologist, Ari Athans, it is her Greek heritage that informs many of her designs and continually feeds her creativity.
“As children, my mother always made us little amulets for safe travels and these little jewels were always meant to be worn inside your clothing. I love the way jewellery is a part of the rituals and traditions in Greece,” Athans says.
For many of her designs she adopts a minimalist aesthetic frequently combining unexpected materials such as basalt and black diamond or reworking a traditional jewellery item to create a contemporary piece.
“I take a minimalist approach as it allows me to pause and appreciate the earth’s minerals. They are precious, rare and each piece is unique and I like my jewellery to reflect this,” she says.
“Diamonds aren’t the only gems. There are many, many different and unusual gemstones in the world and I like the idea of showing people what is possible.”
After 12 years of exhibiting and selling her jewellery nationally and internationally, 43 year-old Athans opened her gallery workshop Ari Jewellery in Brisbane’s New Farm five years ago.
“All of my work is completed at the gallery as it doubles as a workshop (and) I think having your trade open for all to see inspires people and makes purchase more meaningful,” she says.
The juxtaposing of mining to jewellery design and the transition from one to the other is not something Athans see’s as a glaring contrast.
“When the time came to take a few years out of the mining industry I wanted to fulfill my dream of studying art and so, completed a jewellery and object design course at Randwick TAFE,” she says.
“It was a very natural progression and today my geology background has informed my work on many levels.”
Athans work is currently being showcased in Freestyle, an exhibition of 40 designers across fashion, furniture and craft at Milan’s Triennale Museum.