When we hear from couples seeking a truly unique wedding or engagement ring, the beguiling creations of Melbourne-based jeweller Julia deVille oft spring to mind.
Drawing inspiration from nature, mythology and bygone eras, deVille’s hauntingly beautiful pieces reflect the jeweller’s fascination with life and death, often incorporating details inspired by her work as a taxidermist. At the heart of her practice are love of organic form and the allure of unusual gemstones, materials and techniques.
Julia deVille’s darkly romantic range of over 300 pieces can be viewed in the flesh at her Collingwood showroom (by appointment). Don’t expect a brightly-lit room with rows of glass cabinets, but rather an enchanting space full of magical curiosities, and perhaps a gin & tonic to aid proceedings.
We chatted with the mysterious artist herself about her inspirations, aspirations and why a Julia deVille piece will be treasured for generations.
How would you describe your style and ethos when it comes to your jewellery design?
My work is extremely varied, ranging from colourful clusters of gemstones in giant cocktail rings to very dark pieces using black diamonds and black finishes on the metal. I love organic free-flowing forms, rare and unusual gems of all colours and intricate filigree detailing. I do a lot of remodeling of client’s heirloom jewellery by melting them down and remaking them into something entirely new or by building onto existing pieces. I also do bigger silver statement pieces like cast raven skulls, pavé set with black and white diamonds.
A champion of animal rights, an artist and a taxidermist – is it fair to say you have an unusual suite of passions for a contemporary jeweler? How do these interests inform your jewellery design?
My work is heavily influenced by history, life, death and nature. My taxidermy practice informs some of my jewellery quite directly in works featuring bones, bird skulls and sometimes whole parts of animals like bird wings and mice. I also have a range of fine jewellery that does not directly reference my taxidermy work, however it is influenced by history and nature.
When couples come to you for wedding and engagement rings, what do you think they’re looking for, beyond what they’d likely find in a more mainstream option?
My clients are looking for unusual and unique rings. They’re not after a Tiffany ring like all their friends have. They want something specific to their personality and style. My clients are interested in timeless pieces, not transient current fashions.
I have a very large range that people can select from (over 300 rings) and we can alter metal and gemstone combinations to match their preferences. My team and I also work directly with clients designing bespoke pieces if they are after something completely new and custom made.
What are some of the more unusual materials or techniques you like to work with?
I use a lot of rose cut diamonds because I find them more interesting than prefect brilliant cut diamonds. I love black diamonds too and they feature heavily in my work. I also collect antique gemstones to use in custom pieces. I use a lot of jet (but not normally for engagement rings due to its fragility) and of course the taxidermy makes for some very unusual jewellery pieces!
Do you have a particularly memorable engagement or wedding ring design that you loved working on?
I just made a stunning ring for Dita Von Teese – not a wedding ring, but it was a pretty spectacular piece. A big emerald cut topaz surrounded by champagne diamonds with a few carats of sapphires to the side, all set in white gold. It was fun designing it with her.
What are some of your key influences and sources of inspiration?
Adding to the earlier mentioned themes, I am inspired by the Memento Mori period of the 15th – 18th centuries, the Victorian era – especially Victorian mourning jewellery, technology, philosophy, Greek and Roman myth, Edgar Allan Poe and the music of Nick Cave.
Who are some other wedding creatives you’ve loved working with?
North St. Botanical is my favourite collaborator. They do the most amazing floral arrangements I have ever seen. For my showroom launch Emily (the owner) sourced black roses – I didn’t even know they existed! She also worked on an installation I did at the National Gallery of Victoria earlier this year where she created the most spectacular setting for me to display some of my taxidermy works in.
Do you have a studio or showroom where couples can see your pieces?
I opened an appointment-only showroom behind my Collingwood studio in May 2016. This is where my team and I meet with clients to design bespoke pieces and there are also hundreds of items that can be purchased off the shelf. To make an appointment you can do so through my website or by emailing email@example.com.
What would be your dream project?
I am very fortunate to already have my dream job – I get to create beautiful rings almost every day. I adore making wedding and engagement rings/jewellery. It feeds my soul so I am focusing all of my energy into this now. My new website showcases most of my precious ring range and I just want to continue to grow this collection so it becomes thousands of pieces!
To add to this, I would love to design a bespoke ring for Nick Cave.
Images Helene Athanasiadis |