The Ruby Collection : Ali Limb
Has the Melbourne contemporary jewellery scene changed in the last 15 years?
15 years ago there were very few outlets for contemporary jewellery and it was quite a tiny niche market in terms of clientele.
I left RMIT in 1989 and spent the following years in shared studios and gleaning information from many kind trade jewellers and suppliers around Melbourne’s CBD (Many of whom I still see).
Melbourne CBD was quiet; you could drive into the city and park in Little Collins St or Batman Ave to pick up supplies.
It has been exciting to watch Melbourne change and the contemporary jewellery scene expand and thrive during this time.
There are so many more opportunities and possibilities for people pursuing a path in contemporary jewellery and the appreciation of the medium is much more wide spread.
How have you as a jeweller changed over the last 15 years?
15 years ago I didn’t have much responsibility, a mobile phone, a laptop, Email, a husband, 2 kids. Back then I spent most of my time at my bench designing pieces, solving problems and making jewellery all day, 5-6 days a week.
It was easier to be creative and focused without all these distractions and far less demanding than the pace of life today. I miss quiet days at the bench and sometimes wish life was that simple again.
I think the biggest change (challenge) is I am no longer only a jeweller, I am also a business person, a student, a wife, a mother and a luddite trying to exist in this fast paced world of technology.
You have been making jewellery for at least 15 years now – what is it that keeps you motivated and inspired?
I have been making jewellery for almost 28 years. (I began as a school kid in year 10)
The first 20 years I think it was more about the people than the jewellery. I loved the challenge of interpreting people’s personalities, navigating their emotions and coming up with pieces that became a symbol of a time or a union.
The past few years have been more about reflection, considering my impact on the environment other responsibilities and far less about producing jewellery.
I still feel very fortunate to have the skills to make beautiful things, when I come up with a new idea I love that I am able to execute it myself (or sometimes with the help of other skilled craftspeople).
I am motivated by the fact Jewellery is such a personal art form, approachable scale and the maker can remain in control of the process and the outcome.
What has been your best “e.g.etal experience”?
I think my favourite e.g.etal experience will always be the 24 hours in which e.g.etal in Little Collins Street opened. It was so exciting, the night before we opened I remember eating Hairy Canary Pizza’s with Emma Goodsir, and her great friends KSJ & Davo while cleaning glass and putting final touches on the store. We opened the next day after almost no sleep and having never used an EFTPOS machine before but somehow knowing that it was the start of something very special.
How does being a jeweller add to the way you define yourself in the world?
It’s all about the detail.
I work hard at visualising the big picture but I naturally gravitate to the tiny subtleties and details that make an experience or a piece personal.
How does contemporary jewellery made by independent designers such as yourself differ to your average piece of jewellery?
Jewellery made by independent makers takes on a personality, part of their soul goes into the idea, concept and creation. Contemporary jewellery has the ability to evoke an intellectual and often emotional response, which a manufactured piece of jewellery struggles to do.
A piece of original handmade jewellery has a story of it’s own which the wearer can connect with and build on, while your average piece of commercial jewellery holds a material value and relies on the owner/wearer to apply their own sentiments to the piece.