Zen and the Art of... Jewellery Making
Harley Woolven is the Bally Boy heart and soul of Black de Ville Jewellery. At 11, his mum gifted him a silver ring with an internal band that spun. For hours on end he’d be enthralled, spinning that internal band, mesmerised with Gollum intensity. At 18, his eyes were opened to Sydney brands like Tsubi and Chronicles of Never, paving the way globally, showing design genius was attainable in fashion. The fact these brands were throwing epic parties with lots of ridiculously good looking people is always a draw card for a young man weighing up career options.
“I knew I wanted to be in design, in fashion, but had no real idea how until I realised my passion for jewellery, for wanting to create art that is wearable. This was something I could do, a skill I was good at, and loved doing. This could actually be a career.”
It’s rare to be drawn to a path of jewellery making so early in life. I imagine the jewellers of the world are dapper gentleman with long beards, thick specs and hunched backs. No matter. At age 22, Harley went for it, launching Black de Ville. 7 years later, he’s got buyers all over the world, has total control of his brand, able to take the lead on all aspects of designing his collections, sourcing the metals, making the goods and orchestrating incredible promotional campaigns. This is an all-encompassing endeavour that consumes Harley’s life 24/7.
Ground zero for jewellery creation; a dark sweaty room in a building’s unloved basement, lamp shining down from the ceiling lighting up a workbench where the designs of a creator’s mind have the chance to be etched in precious metal at the end of a blow torch blasting nigh on 950 degrees Celsius. This is Harley’s heaven. “If you have a healthy degree of OCD, like to be on your own in the silence for hours on end, and find peace of mind comes easiest when focused intensely on intricate details, jewellery making’s where you want to be.”
The favourite part of his work? “Wedding ring design for sure. This is jewellery to wear forever! I take that seriously, becoming involved in people’s lives to work out what they want when they can’t necessarily articulate it themselves. How they dress, music they jive to, movies they’re moved by, you can start to read the language of style a person gives off and is drawn to, and craft a ring that complements their essence, hopefully something they’ll love wearing forever.”