If you hold the Pink Bouquet ring of David Michael Jewels up to the brand’s full-length glass windows, fringed by bamboo and palm fronds that surround the boutique, your mind’s eye would be rightfully perplexed by its precious petals. Overlaid with a pastel green and pink lustre, they appear to merge into the verdant surrounds. Upon closer examination, it becomes apparent that the portable masterwork owes its verisimilitude to a subtly complex use of gemstone casts.
An impressionist’s armoury has been set loose with pavé stone brushstrokes to stake out a dream-like dimension. With the revelation that identical twins David and Michael Robinson are sequestered in a pristine suburb of Paradise Point, on Australia’s Gold Coast, the Arcadian arch of their oeuvre is poetically underscored.
Eventually the eye settles on the glorious 1.08-ct antique cushion-cut pink diamond, in a crystalline cotton candy blush, in the Pink Bouquet ring’s centre. Although the stone belongs to the brothers’ personal collection, they also have access to the world’s finest pink specimens from the remote Kimberley in outback Western Australia. In September 2017, the duo were invited to join Argyle Pink Diamonds’ Select Atelier ranks, an exclusive roster that counts only 30 or so international names. Although the New Zealanders are in the first chapter of their jewellery house, their talent had come to the attention of the Argyle Pink Diamonds team.
What made their Argyle announcement especially noteworthy was, they were the first Select Atelier with a principally online presence. This is because Michael and David’s priority is their atelier, where they painstakingly complete a maximum of 15 pieces a year. This curtailed production is borne of the brothers’ insistence on handling all stages themselves, from Michael’s watercolour gouaches to the final delivery. “Our love is designing and making unique pieces, creating art. Selling is really not our forte. Actually, sometimes we wish we would keep everything we make,” admits Michael.
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Jewellery has been amongst them since they can remember. It makes sense when the David Michael Jewels ambassadorial role and the first point of contact is their father, Ken. His wealth of networks and industry friends are garnered from a lifetime of jewellery dealings, from his early days engraving at the bench; to sales for the likes of Chaumet in London’s Bond Street; to executive roles in diamond trading for Backes & Strauss, the world’s oldest diamond company. He moved back to New Zealand to open his first retail store in Auckland, David Michaels Jewels. Like most people in the jewellery word, the word “retired” is loosely used by Ken.
This incubator served as an early introduction to quality that wields influence on everything his sons do under the banner David Michael Jewels. Further back still, it is René Lalique that looms large. In fact, all of the jewellery designers the brothers admire are from the gilded past, whether Verdura or Cartier. Michael’s unexpected love of antique pencils, made in the 1930s and 1940s, speaks volumes about this grasp of craftsmanship. For all their interest in earlier epochs, it is amusing to learn their favourite pop cultural references are from their 1980s childhoods.
Michael, a fan of street art and modern-day serialism, says: “I think some of our love of colour and creating art by hand comes from back then, when all the cartoons, toy box artwork and movie posters were drawn by a person. Everything had an authenticity.”
The Robinsons are politely at odds with this era’s jewellery design programmes and computer controlled printers. “To have tangible designs created by human hand adds a great depth of feeling which we believe is important,” says David. The brothers might have come of age with computer games but they create jewellery the same way as the finest European workshops 100 years ago. “Jewellery isn’t a product, it’s art. That’s why we make each unique jewel one at a time by hand,” he adds. “It gives our work a real soul and connection to us.”
Respect for tradition doesn’t preclude a modern touch to fabrication, namely Michael and David’s dexterity with platinum. “The colour of platinum disappears into the background and lets the gems we use stand out without distraction,” explains David. “Hand-forged platinum also affords great density and therefore durability, allowing us to cut the metal holding the gems in place much finer than any other metal.”
As an Argyle Pink Diamond Select Atelier, David Michael Jewels has the ability to deliver a Mine to Client experience that sees the special diamonds journey along an unbroken chain of custody. They have refused the rush and made themselves self-sufficient, alongside all the tools, art, treasured collectables and ocean breeze a jewellery artist might need to bunker down with. This also includes solar panels and collected rainwater.
David describes the ease of being on the job with his best friend. “We can discuss, explore and collaborate at a level normal jewellers just can’t even imagine.” Michael follows with: “It’s great having someone you trust completely in the workshop.”
How long the brothers’ eco-friendly headquarters will continue to be peaceful and unhurried remains to be seen. They are autonomous…for now. But the call of acclaim cannot be far off from their sanctuary.