The Sydney-based jewellery designer looks to the 19th century for her namesake brand
- Who is it? Phoebe Cutler is a Sydney-based jewellery designer
- Why do I want it? One-of-a-kind pieces are made to order, crafted from repurposed materials and inspired by Victorian era designs
- Where can I find it? Online at phoebecutler.com
Who is it? Scrolling through Phoebe Cutler’s Instagram is much like rifling through trinkets in an antique jewellery box. Makes sense, really, as when I speak to Cutler over the phone she explains that all her work is made from repurposed materials and deadstock Victorian or Victorian-inspired jewellery. In fact, she keeps a whole archive of her various finds in her Sydney-based studio, and uses it to craft one-of-a-kind, made to order pieces. “I would definitely describe myself as a magpie,” she says.
Having studied at the National Art School in Sydney, graduating in 2018, the Australia-born designer started out creating jewellery to make something tactile and tangible, even though she had no experience in the medium. “When I first started out I had to teach myself using YouTube and everything was very DIY – so my aesthetic has developed quite a lot in three years,” she explains. “I feel like it took that amount of time to get to the place I am in now, where what I’m making feels more complete.” Working predominantly in silver, gold and coloured stones and opals, to celebrate Australia’s wealth of natural gems, Cutler also incorporates old cameos, Victorian-era glass and charms in her work. “I practically hoard gemstones,” says Cutler. “I also love to repurpose other people’s jewellery or antique pieces because it then has a history that gets passed on.”
Recently, Cutler began using natural materials in her pieces; a necklace made from mussel shells, or a pair of earrings made from acorns, for example. Acorns were used by the Victorians in mourning jewellery as a symbol of longevity, new growth and new life. “I have also been thinking about the way that Victorians used human hair in jewellery,” says Cutler. “I’d love to start using it too, to make custom pieces for those who wanted them ... But not sure if people would be grossed out by it!”
Why do I want it? Despite the designer looking to the past for inspiration, every piece Cutler creates has a contemporary feel. And, each is completely unique, made using traditional jewellery-making processes. “The thing I like about working in jewellery is that the tools and processes are the same as they were hundreds and even thousands of years ago,” she says. “I also enjoy the way that jewellery becomes a semi-permanent piece of your body,” she continues, noting that her work is something that she would love for people to cherish and pass down through generations. “I don't really like making things in multiples – I prefer to make one special piece and then it goes to a particular person.”
Although her brand is growing, Cutler also intends to keep it as small and independent as possible, so that she never has to produce the same item twice. The shipping time for items is one to two weeks for existing pieces, and three to six for new ones. During an era of ‘see now buy now’, Cutler’s work feels more than worth the wait.
Whether it was acorns or human hair, the Victorians were hugely into the symbolism inherent in materials and objects; so naturally, Cutler is too. Her website states that, “These pieces aim to manifest luck and protection and thus are made for forever. Wear with pleasure and purpose!” We certainly will.
Where can I find it? Online at phoebecutler.com and Terminal Six.