Melbourne-born ALEXANDER WILSON, creator of Alexander Gems & Jewels India, immerses himself in Jaipur’s opulent world of exquisite fine gems, traditional Indian craftsmanship, and worldwide travel, creating and sourcing jewels that can transmit a personality as vast as those they adorn. Whether it is the vibrant colour of a gemstone, the elegant sparkle of a diamond or the curiosity of an objet d’art, his mission is to design uniquely beautiful pieces for his clients, working together with them to create bespoke exotic luxuries to enhance the jewellery aficionado’s collection.
What is Alexander Gem’s signature design statement?
I use vibrant, unique natural gemstones with rich-coloured high karat gold. My work has been described as “bold but not ostentatious” and I like that.
What is your design philosophy?
I believe jewellery is deeply personal and I like each piece to be born from discovery and represent something deeper than a trend. We are all unique and I work with my clients to create jewels with a personality as vast as those they adorn.
Why did you decide to move to India after such a successful stint as a gemmologist in Melbourne?
Since childhood I have always felt a sort of connection to India. My grandparents had travelled extensively across India, Pakistan and Afghanistan in the early 70s and to an extent I was raised on their fond memories. Their house was laden with handicrafts, textiles, paintings and minerals from their travels. Each piece was collected because of its individual beauty and had a creation story that my grandmother was keen to tell in detail the “who, what, where, when and why”. These mementos were her passion and from a very young age she had embedded a desire to explore the world outside Australia. After many trips to India discovering this vast country my innate love of exquisite gems, jewels and craftsmanship eventually lead me to Jaipur, a city famous for jewellery making and processing gemstone rough from around the world.
Where are you based in India?
I have been fond of and inspired by Jaipur since I first visited here in my early 20s. Visiting almost annually, I made friends and contacts and moved to Jaipur full time nearly seven years ago.
Recently, a passion for the outdoors led my business partner Randhir Singh and I, to South Goa where I have found new inspirations and a diverse community. Our business will be also based there, but I still call Jaipur home.
What gems do you prefer?
I only use natural gemstones and I am very open about standard industry treatments. As a gemmologist I am fascinated by Mother Nature’s’ palette, gemstone formation and the various inclusions in gemstones that make them unique. Currently most of my work is custom-made with stones sourced specifically for that particular client.
Where do you get your jewellery manufactured?
The vast majority of my jewellery is created or sourced in Jaipur. The city is world famous for karigars of endless disciplines and home to various jewellery-making and stone-cutting techniques. There are still so many techniques to discover and learn about in Jaipur which excites me enormously.
However, I also have some pieces made in Melbourne when necessary. I work closely with a jeweller and platinum smith in Melbourne, who works on select pieces when the design demands or if multiple fittings are needed.
Where is your boutique located? Is it a brick-and-mortar store or do you have an online store?
For the last six years my work has mostly been commission-based or small artisan jewellery collections which can be seen on my website as well as some pieces being available at Gray Reid Gallery in Melbourne. My jewellery production is small and while my pieces will always showcase the unique talents of the craftsman and the eclectic nature of my style, I encourage people to contact me and discuss customisation so they acquire a piece as unique as they are … A piece they are connected to and involved in the process of making.
Why did you decide for an Alexander Gem’s outpost to be based in South Goa?
When my business partner Randhir Singh and I decided to create Alexander Gems & Jewels India, we wanted to work from a physical location that was outside a city and in a place where a lot of people are transient, creative and where ideas are freely discussed, shared and born. We hope that the physical space we are working on will not just be for our jewellery alone, but a place for people to see various collections of artists as well as have the opportunity to discuss having a piece made just for them. The jewellery will predominantly still be made in Jaipur, but we have already found a local jeweller who would work on alterations.
What did working with luxury giants like Bulgari and Cartier teach you?
I learnt so so much. Both these ‘names’ are iconic, world-famous brands and they are famous for a reason. Not only is the standard of their jewellery and conceptualisation of ideas and references exceptional, but they are steeped in history and have a particular way that clients should be taken care of. There is a manual, there is a dress code and there is some fairly extensive jewellery training. While I have personally moved aways from desiring large ‘brands’ I truly respect the larger jewellery houses for this and understand that they will continue to drive trends.
Working for both jewellery houses facilitated my naturally sociable personality to be able to connect and listen to customers’ jewellery desires. I learnt how to work independently from a larger brand, and today, I am able to assist more people to make their jewellery dreams become a reality.
How is the jewellery industry in India different from Australia?
The jewellery industry in both countries is really made up of so many layers and levels. There are so many amazing and creative jewellery artists in Australia. Some have an eye for unique gemstones and some interpret form in a creative contemporary way, while others recreate classic pieces which are held close to hearts. Overall though, while there are incredible jewels available, there is not a huge culture of having individual pieces made ‘just for you’. I worked for a Melbourne jeweller who took great pride in making and remaking jewellery for customers. Sitting and talking with the clients and understanding their style and lifestyles to create one-of-a-kind pieces. It was such an exciting place to work but unfortunately it is not general culture to have a fine jewellery piece made.
It is hard to generalise and as I said there are many layers and levels but in India, jewellery carries more than just a style or celebration. Jewellery has both religious and cultural significance. Many people I’ve met in India grow up knowing their family jeweller. A relationship is made with both jewellery and the jeweller who understands the jewellery and advises on alterations when it is passed down or passed on to someone. Sometimes pieces are taken apart and sometimes they are put together. The jewellery culture I have witnessed in India is not fast and it’s not impulsive; it is thought out for the next generation, the next custodian who will tell the jewellery’s story to the custodian after them.