Turning priceless stories into precious jewellery
Melbourne jeweller Vikki Kassioras uses a mix of traditional and contemporary jewellery to merge personal stories into her gold and silver creations
To get to Vikki Kassioras's studio in inner-city Melbourne's Nicholas building - an artist hub housing creative types - one must scale seven flights of stairs and navigate corridors of almost identical wooden doors. It was not easy to find the jeweller's studio, but a handy tip to find the right location could have been to listen out for the soft tinkling of rebetika music coming through the door.
Vikki Kassioras is a young jeweller with a surprising nine year's experience behind her. Having always immersed herself in creative pursuits from a young age, the artist pursued a jewellery making degree at RMIT, where she learned to work with a myriad of materials, including brass, copper and rather humbler materials like Perspex and concrete.
Today, Vikki works mainly with gold and silver, and it is hard to miss the inspiration she takes from tribal art and ancient mythology. Over the rebetika playing in the background, Vikki explained why much of her recent work has distinctly Arabic, Indian, and of course Greek, imagery and designs.
"I've always had an interest in classical mythology. A lot of those stories have similar archetype symbols and characters," the artist quipped. "I became interested in Indian mythology from my travels there. It was such a big eye-opener to see how much jewellery, and gold in particular, play such a big part in the people's lives."
Despite drawing inspiration from ancient cultures, Vikki's pieces are always unmistakably modern and contemporary. For example, aspects of Greek and Moroccan tribal jewellery can be glimpsed in her work, like the unique little imperfections inspired by natural ageing, geometric Arabesque patterns and use of glass beads with silver.
"I don't want to make tribal jewellery, I want to make contemporary jewellery. I am drawn to the minimalist and sleeker aesthetics, but I take away concepts from older jewellery," she urges.
"I love how tribal pieces wear over time, as people wear them and pass them down over generations, but all the little imperfections make them more beautiful to me."
It is these "little imperfections" that draws her clients to her work. Clients who commission work from Vikki aren't looking to get a replica of a piece of jewellery they saw somewhere, whether it is a necklace, bangle or wedding band. Most clients are looking for a custom made piece, often leaving the artist with general ideas of what they want before leaving her to her own devices.
"If they're happy to go on a collaborative journey with me, then they often get really fantastic pieces. Often the best pieces come when people really trust me, even when I can't give them a definitive description of how it's going to turn out."
Her commissioned works are as diverse in design as they are in the stories behind them. Vikki has created a gold, diamond-studded bangle to commemorate a new addition to a family, a charm bracelet for a new mother, and is currently working on a necklace with beads sent in from Syria.
Vikki admits working alone has its drawbacks, as she has to take on the all-rounder role of maker, marketer, salesperson and accountant all at once. But having sold her wares at jewellery boutique e.ge.tal for a number of years now, Vikki has gained quite the loyal following, with admirers often coming into the underground store in Melbourne to ask what new shiny goods the jeweller has come up with lately.
Her 'Precious' range in particular, which references journeys and odysseys, have fittingly been chosen by married couples-to-be as their wedding bands or engagement rings. And as each piece is made by Vikki entirely by hand, each piece is entirely unique, and not only in its form.
Whether her customers are after a wedding band or engagement ring to last them a lifetime, or just a pretty pair of earrings, there is one thing in common with all of Vikki's work: they allow the wearer to connect with the personal stories behind each glittering creation.
Vikki Kassioras's work can be found on her website vikkikassioras.blogspot.com or the Lord Coconut and e.ge.tal jewellery boutiques in Melbourne.
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