“The sculptures are almost a mood board for the jewelry–they set the tone, and create a precious world and ecosystem for the jewelry to exist in. The jewelry is like an accessible part of the sculpture that you can take away with you.”
Award-winning jewelry designer and 3D sculpture artist Jordan Askill creates pieces that are like distilled works of art. His attention to form is evidenced in the graceful slope of a panther arching around a finger, it’s in the metal bloom of flowers framing an asymmetrical gem, in the delicate layering of golden leaves adorning an ear. His attention to detail is unparalleled; every curve is considered, every indentation derived from great thought. The designs are fluid and organic, flawlessly forged into creation as though they already existed in the natural world. Of his approach, Askill states, “I want things to be as seamless and ergonomic as possible. I want the stone and the detail in the metal to really connect and become one.”
Askill’s infatuation with flora and fauna is clear in his choice of subjects: horses, swallows, panthers, macaws, leaves that look as though they’ve been freshly plucked from branches, gemstones that appear to have been roughly hewn from the earth’s crust. “I see the elements that inspire me as being delicate, fragile, and ultimately precious,” Askill says. Organic material, which serves often as the focus of his work, is arguably one of the most delicate, fragile, and precious things accessible to us. It is inherently fleeting, in existence for a finite amount of time. Askill’s pieces, in effect, manage to briefly stop the clock, preserving beauty in proverbial amber.
But the British Fashion Award winner excels in worlds beyond the natural. Askill also deals in more grounded, familiar designs–though, to be sure, his attempts always remain fresh and innovative. His iconic heart ring feels fluid. His locket rings and necklaces are futuristic visions of classic heirlooms. Askill’s particular visual approach stems partially from his time as a young intern at Alexander McQueen and, later, as a designer with Dior Homme. Of the experience with the famed fashion houses, Askill ruminates, “The things that really stayed with me were having a strong aesthetic, and creating visually beautiful and beautifully made products. It made me realize that the most important thing was really being as creative as you want to be, and that things should look poetic, meaningful, and amazing.” Askill’s own work is a manifestation of these early lessons.
The Australian-born, New York City-based designer’s passion is more than apparent in each of his pieces. His necklaces, rings, and earrings demonstrate the efforts of a designer with a keen eye for the exquisite. Since launching his collection in 2010, Askill has found well-deserved fans at Vogue, Harper’s Bazaar, Glamour, LOVE, and the New York Times, amongst many others. His stockists–Bergdorf Goodman, Colette, and Dover Street Market, to name just a few–are a tight list of the most discerning of purveyors. To delve further into the mind of these creations, we sat down with Askill to talk early ambitions, inspiration from evolution, and women of strength.
What did you want to be when you were a child?
I wanted to be a veterinarian. I wanted to work with animals in hard-to-reach areas of the globe.
Animals play such a huge role in your design. That’s obviously been an interest of yours for a long time then?
Ever since I was little, always. It’s this idea of animals being these innocent, majestic creatures, and how human beings have been in the way of their development quite often. They captivate me and always have.
Your pieces are a celebration of the organic but you live in New York City, where flora and fauna are more than lacking. Is that a challenge?
Yes, that is so correct. At the same time, I love being in Central Park. We have a family house outside of New York that is perfect to escape to. I like being in the city for the fast-paced movement and the boundary-pushing quality New York City has to offer. It’s this contradictory quality that I need in my work. It helps me to incorporate the natural world I see as precious and mix it with the current way in which people live now.
The panther is a symbol you use often in your work. Does it signify anything to you in particular?
The panther is a symbol I have always used. It appeared in my first collection in both sculpture and jewelry form. I was pulling together what I saw as majestic creatures that could start the early chapters of my work. The symbolic meaning of the panther is one of fierce power and a protective presence. To me, the panther is also vulnerable and precious. The panther silhouette I use closely resembles the Florida panther, which is critically endangered.
Lockets, historically, have such an emotional history. Was there anything in particular that made you compelled to add to that tradition with your own?
I find lockets do have such an emotional connotation. The idea of keeping something–the memory of someone–so close to you is very poetic and strong. The locket I created was closely based on an Eastern European rosary bead case that was made out of glass and tin. Mine is made from gold and rock crystal.
Where do you find yourself the most inspired?
I find I am most inspired when I am in a new place. I feel that traveling or moving around helps me a lot. Places inspire me a lot. The whole idea of evolution and where we are today.
Do women on the streets of New York City inspire you?
Yes, they do.
What kind of women inspire you?
Strong women. Women that have a passion. Joan of Arc, Elizabeth Taylor, Michelle Obama, my mum, my grandmother, Peggy Guggenheim, and Gloria Vanderbilt, to name a few.
The heart is a theme we see often in jewelry across all eras. How did you want to approach hearts in your own collection?
I see the heart as a symbol I always want to use. It has always been a symbol found in nature–it’s the soft but strong center of things.
When someone sees a piece of yours on a woman, what is it that you’d like them to think?
That they are strong and poetic and care about the things around us.