Seb Brown is a bit of a magpie when it comes to precious metals. “I love gold,” explains the self-taught, Melbourne-based jeweller. “I’ve always been attracted to jewellery, even as a child. The history and myth surrounding adornment keeps me excited.”
Though he dabbles in crafting beautifully ornate bracelets and earrings, it’s the 33-year-old’s signet rings that steal the show.
Bursting with multi-coloured jewels of all shapes and sizes (aquamarine, pink sapphires, warm yellow stones and rose quartz), often they’re made from recycled diamonds and re-polished stones – a sparkling breath of fresh air for whoever is lucky enough to bag themselves a ring.
Brown has taken the learning curve that comes with being self-taught in his stride. As a result, his work is unrestrained, “naive” even, and he doesn’t find himself being limited to particular shapes or styles.
Instead, he takes inspiration from his surroundings. “I grew up in a small town on the south coast of Australia – a moody place on one of the roughest stretches of coastline in the world,” Brown says.
“We had to make our own fun as kids, building things, beachcombing, climbing. The seclusion and beauty of that place helped with my freedom of imagination. I moved to Melbourne in 2006, which opened up opportunities to sell and exhibit my work while constantly being surrounded by creativity.”
For Brown, creativity goes hand in hand with sustainability. Although the pearls and gems he uses come from all over the world, his suppliers are local.
“I’m constantly thinking about how to improve on this, but I think jewellery is inherently sustainable as almost all the materials can be recycled,” Brown says. “I’ve never been a part of the typical slash and burn seasonal sale cycle – I make pieces to order and work directly with clients.”
Bespoke jewellery making might result in a far more sustainable business model, but it also strengthens the, um, bond between Brown and his customers. “Someone once told me she was going to propose by putting the engagement ring I made in her vagina, and letting her boyfriend find it,” he says. “People reveal a lot to me in meetings!”
Vagina rings and oversharing aside, Brown has experienced a creative rebirth in the last few months and will soon be opening a small shop in his Melbourne studio. “I love the atelier set-up: workshop out the back and proper shop out the front,” he explains.
Sounds like the dream set-up. For those hoping to follow in Brown’s footsteps, he has some sound advice for fledgling jewellers wanting to create beautiful pieces:
“Treat it as your job, start small and find your voice.”
SEB BROWN’S FAVOURITE AUSSIE ARTISTS
I’ve learnt so much about immediacy looking at her paintings. She started painting in her eighties, made thousands of them, and exhibited all over Australia and the world. Her work is transcendent.
A Melbourne artist, illustrator and burgeoning jeweller who’s breathing life into engraving.
I just bought one of his prints at auction, he’s one of the Granddaddy’s of contemporary landscape painting here in Australia.