The inspiration for almost all our pieces comes from a snorkel in Lennox Head or on a Coral Reef somewhere in the world. I hold a PhD in Coral Reef Ecology and Chemistry, a Masters in Marine Toxicology, Honors in Organic Chemistry and thus it is no surprise that coral reefs have me completely enthralled. As a commercial diver and dive master I have spent 1000s of hours under water (with my camera!) and often when I come back from a dive or snorkel I will walk straight into my studio to create photographic colour mood boards from my encounters. Below you see the lime, verdigris and tangerine impressions from a particularly beautiful afternoon spent with a dozen gloomy octopuses and sand anemones in our Bay.
Once a colour scheme has taken shape in my mind, I go through my many drawers, which contain 1000s of stones in my studio to find the perfect semi-precious stones to translate my marine encounters in jewellery.
My research and our joint travels have allowed us to collect the most wonderful exotic beads and findings during the last 30 years, from Greece, Slovenia, Dubai, Oman, USA, Indonesia, Kurdistan, Tunisia, Vanuatu, Papua New Guinea, New Zealand, Madeira, UK, Ireland, Portugal, Spain, Poland, Czech Republic, Italy, Solomon Islands, Hong Kong, Singapore, Cuba and many more places. These have now found a new life in our pieces. We love the idea of a ‘global narrative’ that each of our unique and limited edition statement pieces represents. Travelling to new places and sourcing small batches of unusual materials from (online) artisans or toothless old ladies on markets remains one of our greatest thrills and ensure that our designs stay fresh and experimental. Having said that, we also source a lot of our materials from other (online) artisans all over the world.
In this case, Carnelians from India, Sea Glass we collected in New Caledonia, Chrysocolla and Agates from Brazil made in to onto my collection tray just as much as Sea Sediment Jasper and raw Fluoride I brought back from Hong Kong, Jade from Canada and 22k gold plated chain – sourced from a grumpy old man in Istanbul.
Some stones might need drilling, filing, polishing or gilding before I can select them for my pieces. From here it is a process of eliminating what is not right or swapping stones over until a balance of colours and shapes is achieved.
I often get asked how long it takes me to design a piece. The answer lies in this stone selection step – everything can fall into place within hours or it may take weeks. I often work on 20 or more trays concurrently and just like a painting, a composition need to be revisited time and again until it feels balanced.
Once I have settled on the “perfect” stones, I will sketch out a design – sometimes a quick black and white sketch, but often I will make a little watercolour drawing.
The last step in the design process - and a real thrill- after all that preparation is to finally translate my underwater impressions into the wearable piece of art jewellery.
In a world of mass production, I relish the fact that I am making every single LUKA piece with my own two hands. By the way, these are the same hands that spend 25 years in smelly soft coral mucus, dissecting tiny coral polyps or massive sharks, or were hand feeding deadly box jellyfish. I love, that in a time of mass production and Crazy Clarks attitudes to consumption, I become personally acquainted with every stone that becomes part of of my pieces. It is likely that is used my father in law's German made diamond file to make it smooth where it wasn't or my Serbian great grandmothers minute crochet hook to deal with some unruly gold wire. I make "slow" jewellery in a time that is geared to being fast and efficient. It is this luxury of spending time with all my pieces that makes me love them that much and is the underlying rationale for wanting to see them ending up with the "right woman".
Once our jewellery is completed Andreas takes over and does all the photography - in our studio or out and about. The very last step in the process is loading our collection up on our website.