Can jewellery be gender neutral?
As a male jewellery designer, I found the majority of my designs to have a more masculine feel to them. I thought I should be making conscious efforts to make my pieces more stereotypically ‘feminine’. However, I quickly came to the realisation that the main difference between male and female jewellery I create is the size, not the design. It made me think - does jewellery have to be gender specific? I don't think it does. I think it’s subjective.
I started to see a lot of my male friends wearing their girlfriend’s big stone rings. Then I started to find this with the jewellery I was designing; I would design a piece initially with a woman in mind but then I would want to wear it myself. I would also often find rings I designed for men were appealing to my female audience.
I would like to think my jewellery is not gender specific, but is subjective to the person choosing it based on their own tastes, styles and what they’re drawn to.
When I was three years old, my parents decided to pack up their lives, move into a bus and hit the open road. Being young themselves with three children they wanted a life that was different. With dreams of travel and adventure in their hearts, they did what many are scared to do. We headed to Europe and after a few years we had integrated ourselves into a travelling society known as 'new-age travellers’.
By the time I was six we were moving around different sites in Britain. I spent my childhood growing up on the road, living in different communities, travelling in convoys with all kinds of wonderful people from different backgrounds and different journeys. I learnt the value of travel and freedom from a young age. After almost a decade on the road we moved back into ‘normal’ society.
As my dad was a Goldsmith, I spent my childhood in and around his workshop, always so interested in what he was up to. I would watch him work and try to copy. In school I loved the creative and hands on subjects but never really found a field or career path for me. So straight out of school, at just seventeen, I decided to become a master goldsmith and began my apprenticeship.
I loved working as a goldsmith and loved the industry, learning new things everyday and working in a career I was truly proud of. Two and a half years into the apprenticeship I found myself feeling that something was missing out of my life… creativity!!
I made the hard decision to end my masters apprenticeship and to go to university. I studied Metalwork and Jewellery and this allowed me to focus on designing. I loved my time there, learnt so much and developed myself into a designer. After earning my degree I started to think about what was next. Fifteen years of 'normal' society later, the road would be my home again!
I downsized my life into one bag, packed a couple of hand tools and some jewellery wire and bought a one way ticket to Australia. Over the next couple of years the few tools I had slowly grew into a portable workshop briefcase. I have now been on the road for around 6 years with pop up workshops of some sort or another all over the world; from beachside garages in Sydney, a riverside campervan-convert in NZ, a chalet in the French Alps, an apartment in Bangkok, a caravan in the forests of Southwest England and the mountains of Fukushima and Hokkaido, Japan. Everywhere I travel inspires me to broaden my designs by incorporating the cultural styles and using the land's unique materials.
So now I have created this: A webpage to showcase and share my art, my passion... my story as the travelling jeweller.
Hello!! This is me!!
Jack Mitchell, travelling jeweller
2013 - present; Goldsmith, jewellery designer and manufacturer Sheffield Hallam University 2009 - 2013; Metalwork and Jewellery BA hon. Northbrook College; Sussex 2008 - 2009; City and Guilds level three – Jewellery Bath Goldsmith Company, vintage and antique jewellery2006 - 2008; Master Goldsmith ApprenticeshipTina Engell, established goldsmith; Bath2005 - 2006; GoldsmithChristopher Milton Stephens, jewellery and diamond specialist; Bath 2004 - 2005; Master Goldsmith Apprenticeship