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Bella Clark makes jewellery inspired by the women in her life

Words by Ruby Staley

Melbourne jewellery designers are having a moment right now.

Lucy Folk has gone global, taking her pieces well beyond her tiny storefront in the CBD, and Seb Brown’s sample sale sold out in the first three hours.

And fellow local designer, Bella Clark, is riding the wave.

“I feel Melbourne is a great place to be as an artist. There is such a large and strong creative community and people who respect and love all aspects of art and design,” says Clark. “There is a real sense of anti-fast fashion and focus on wanting the unique, sustainable and handmade”.

Her place in Melbourne’s artisan landscape may now seem firm, but the path to her own label was far from immediate. After finishing a Bachelor of Fine Arts she completed a short course in goldsmithing and interned for local jeweller, Lucy Folk.

But the anxieties of her early twenties set in and panic around financial stability pushed Bella to go back to university to study dental technology.

She lasted one semester.

“I realised jewellery was definitely the path I wanted to follow and I dropped out to have my own studio practice as a jeweller,” says Clark.

Now with her eponymous label, Bella Clark Jewellery, Bella focusses on precious materials, metals and gemstones. Despite its professionalism, the brand is a one-woman show and she is responsible for everything from customer service, website design, and branding, to posting orders and making every piece by hand.

Sustainable practices are at the heart Bella’s craft and she prides herself on creating each piece totally by hand. I want the growth of my practice to be a slow one, I want to always have a substantial, locally made practice, reusing and repurposing where possible,” she says.

Repurposing customers’ family heirlooms into bespoke, handcrafted pieces in her Fitzroy studio, Clark brings life back to forgotten tokens of the past. One of the benefits of being a solo operation is she can meet her customers one-on-one and she can customise pieces by getting to know her clients on a personal level.

“At the moment, bespoke pieces are my favourite thing to do and repurposing family heirlooms has become one of my absolute favourite aspects of my practice,” says Clark.

The jeweller describes the love she has for repurposing old, beautiful and forgotten stones that perhaps don’t see the light of day anymore. Instead of discarding these pieces or leaving them at the bottom of jewellery boxes, Clark works to reinvent old or broken jewels and breathe new life into each recreation.

History and inheritance are important tenets of Bella’s design ethos. Coming from a family of artists and photographers, she cites the women in her life as her inspiration.

“My grandma is a woman I am constantly inspired by. She lives in Coober Pedy, a desert town in South Australia known for its opals. The landscape and her lifestyle there are so unique. We always watch the sunrise together, it’s one of my most treasured moments.”

Order a handmade Bella Clark piece online or book an appointment at her Fitzroy studio.

bellaclarkjewellery.com

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