Bespoke West Australian jewellery brand, Rohan Jewellery, will open a boutique within the State Buildings this month. Rohan jewellery is a business built out of a passion for impeccable quality and true craftsmanship, and is one of 30 Select Argyle diamond ateliers in the world.
We spoke to Rohan Milne about the evolution of Rohan Jewellery, his passion, his inspiration and why he chose the Cathedral Square precinct to open his second boutique.
What lured you to the State Buildings?
I knew I wanted to be part of the restored State Buildings as soon as I stepped inside the iconic Postal Hall. The reinstatement of this incredible building, so rich in history, has reinvigorated the city of Perth. The focus on West Australian skilled artisans is wholeheartedly aligned with the Rohan Jewellery philosophy of traditionally handcrafted jewellery using the most premium Australian metals and stones.
How did Rohan Jewellery evolve to where it is today?
It all started in Leederville in 2007 when we commenced with a team of two staff members and myself. We have come a long way and our Leederville Studio now has a team of 8 jewellery professionals as well as myself and my wife, Toni who pulls it altogether.
The Rohan Jewellery journey started a lot earlier, back in 1995 when I began my apprenticeship as a green 17-year-old and has since taken me all over the world. Our philosophy is a merge of experiences, predominantly based on my time working in New York and Italy.
In New York, I worked for Henry Dunay who, at the time, was one of the most celebrated Jeweller Designers in the world. My time with Henry exposed me to the extraordinary design and precision of a world class manufacturing jeweller at a very young age.
In Italy, I had the opportunity to work with Guccione, a family run company whose specialty was designing and manufacturing jewellery for European political and religious officials and nobility. It was the most extraordinary experience. One creation that stands out was a commission from the Ambassador of Belize to create 2 pairs of cufflinks that were presented to Pope Benedict XVI and the Italian Prime Minister, Silvio Berlusconi.
The whole experience gave me a drive for excellence and a fierce commitment to the traditional manufacturing methods and keeping these methods alive.
It has to be said that Rohan Jewellery would not be where it is today without our incredible clients who appreciate our approach and craftsmanship.
Tell us about your design style, what makes Rohan Jewellery so unique?
Twists on classically designed and handcrafted jewellery is where we sit style wise. For me, it is all about the overall finish, not just the top of the ring but the sides and the inside. Our jewellery is often defined by hand crafted inlays on the inside which completes the piece. People commission us to make them jewellery that will potentially be something that is passed on and I am very proud to think that one day the next generation may look at our jewellery and marvel that it has been done by hand as computers slowly take over.
As a designer, where do you draw inspiration from?
Specialising in bespoke jewellery, our inspiration often comes from our clients. Clients regularly sit down to start the creative process and say ‘they have no idea’ but it is about asking the right questions and listening to their inspirations and experiences that you gain insight into what they like, resulting in a highly personalised and meaningful piece of jewellery.
I personally take inspiration from big cities and their architecture – I particularly love the merge of old and new eras of buildings. While it’s a little obvious, the Chrysler building is an all time favourite.
Can you give us a little insight into your process – when commencing a new commission for example, what is the process and how long does one piece usually take to complete?
Commencing a new commission is such an exciting process. Often we are working with clients at poignant times in their life such as an engagement, anniversary or the birth of a child. The process usually begins with our clients coming into our studio and sitting with a designer. Because we have a number of clients interstate and overseas, this process can also begin via email, phone or skype. This stage is about gathering information and insight into their thoughts and ideas. We will then hand sketch a series of concepts providing options within their design parameters as well as a few options just outside the parameters to keep things interesting. We often go back and forth at this stage, incorporating elements from different designs to come up with the final one. Once the final design has been decided, the hand sketched design goes into the Rohan Jewellery workshop in Leederville and Rohan and the Jewellery Team commence the handcrafting process.
We have recently started capturing work in progress images of our bespoke pieces. We collate these images and present them in a leather bound book to our clients to showcase the handcrafting journey of their custom piece.
Depending on the design, the handcrafting process generally takes between 3-6 weeks. There have been some major commissions that have taken Rohan over a year.