Jewellery is somewhat of a passion of mine – I am incredibly sentimental when it comes to special pieces and always fascinated by the process that goes into creating something so small and delicate. Today’s expert knows a thing or two about jewels and I am thrilled to welcome Rohan Milne of Rohan Jewellery to Polka Dot Wisdom to share a little about the beauty of his work.
Please introduce yourself to us.
My name is Rohan Milne, I am a Jeweller, Designer and owner of Rohan Jewellery in Leederville, Western Australia. I created Rohan Jewellery in 2007 when I returned to Perth after living and working overseas in New York and Italy. I was inspired to create a luxury jewellery boutique with a relaxed environment that makes people feel at ease.
Our philosophy is one of collaboration. Each client works with a qualified Jewellery Designer who hand sketches their vision prior to the piece being handcrafted in the Rohan Jewellery workshop. We have an unwavering commitment to the traditional handcrafting process & techniques of jewellery design and manufacture.
Do you have a history of jewellery design in your family?
Not jewellery design so much, but I think I think my appreciation for natural elements runs in my blood. My Great Grandfather was one of the first pearling entrepreneurs in Broome, Western Australia. He had six pearl luggers which at the time, searched for pearl shell.
18ct white gold with black diamond detail ring
Do you have mentors in your life who continue to inspire you?
Giorgio Guccione, the owner of Guccione, Italy – the workshop I worked at in Rome – is a great source of inspiration. He is truly a master of a lost art. The company specialises in designing and manufacturing jewellery for European political and religious officials and nobility. It was an extraordinary experience for me to be involved in such a highly specialised area of craftmanship. One creation that stands out was a commission from the Ambassador of Belize to create 2 pairs of cufflinks that were presented to Pope Benedict XVI and then Italian Prime Minister, Silvio Berlusconi.
I have never seen anyone do the work that Giorgio Guccione does and I am fairly certain, I will never see it again. He reignited the artist within me.
You have secured the only intense pink pear shape diamond from the 2008 International Argyle Diamond Tender. What is it about pink Argyle diamonds that is so special?
Argyle diamonds are by far the most special and rare diamonds found today. Just the small amount that are found each year and the limited sizes make them one of the most sought after collectables in the world. To put the rarity in perspective, the Argyle mine supplies approximately ninety percent of the world’s pink diamonds, astonishingly, a whole year’s worth of production of stones over half a carat would fit in the palm of your hand. The larger rare violet diamonds would barely fill a teaspoon. (Source Argyle Pink Diamonds)
Argyle Pink Diamonds are most famous for their intense pink colour range of diamonds. Essentially, they are an amazing freak of nature!
We are proud to be appointed as one of only 30 Argyle Pink Diamond Select Ateliers in the world. We were appointed this honour in 2012 – after only 4 years in business. We were the youngest Select Atelier to join the Argyle ranks!
You tell us that diamonds come in a variety of colours – ‘yellows, pinks, reds, greens, blues, purples and all the shades in between.’ What causes diamonds to become coloured and are they more expensive than a white diamond?
It is believed that coloured diamonds obtain their colour from pressure below the Earth’s surface. Different trace elements within the stones contribute to the various colours. It is still not completely understood exactly what causes these phenomenal bursts of colour – it is the subject of ongoing debate – but I am incredibly grateful to Mother Nature for creating them.
There are indeed a vast range of colours, however it is the pinks and blues that are most sought after due to their rarity. Yellows are also a popular choice.
Coloured diamonds are more expensive that white diamonds and this is directly linked to the rarity of the stones. There is no correlation between the price of a white diamond and a coloured diamond.
Are coloured diamonds best enhanced with white diamonds, or set on their own? Are they a favourite of yours to work with?
Absolutely, coloured diamonds are a favourite of mine to work with. As the most concentrated form of wealth on the planet, it is an honour to work with these amazing stones. It can also be nerve racking at times!
Colored diamonds work really well when they are enhanced with the use of bright white diamonds. It is often in the subtlety of the white diamonds that allows it to enhance the colour of the stone while not overshadowing it.
As coloured diamonds can be extremely expensive, the use of whites or lighter colours of the same hue – can add another element to the piece without it breaking the client’s budget.
It can also work well, the other way around. We often use the small pink diamonds to highlight a central white diamond. As the stones are so rare and the price can often be out of the client’s budget, we use the pinks to create intricate side profiles or stunning halos around a central larger white diamond. This reduces the overall cost whilst still giving the client their own unique pink or coloured diamond story.
Pink Diamond halo ring with design sketch
Pink diamond detail
What is the design process when someone first enters your store to presentation of the final product?
The initial contact may be in person, however for interstate, international and ‘fly in fly out’ clients it is often over the phone or email, so the design process will start at this point.
We like to get an idea of the aesthetic and style that the client is looking for and then explore the various options within this – but also not restricting it to one idea. A qualified jewellery designer will explore these options through a design consultation – or sometimes a series of consultations – and articulate the ideas in hand sketched designs. We come up with the final design through a creative process of hand sketching, discussing options and exploring the various boundaries of design. We take an enormous amount of time at this stage and do not restrict our clients to set design times. It is important to let the creative process take its natural course.
Once we have the final design finalized – it then goes into our workshop where it is handcrafted by our team of jewelers. Our workshop can be seen from our showroom – keeping the craftsmanship visible. Some clients enjoy watching parts of the manufacturing process. If our clients are overseas or interstate, we often send them work in progress images.
Once the piece is complete, we set a hidden ‘Rohan Ruby’ on the inside of all our pieces. It is our signature for all pieces created in our workshop.
The presentation of the final piece is such an exciting time. We are privileged to be a part of some of the happiest moments in our clients lives and I never get tired of the emotion that comes with this. There are always plenty of happy tears! Our aim is for our clients to walk out our door ecstatic and in love with their jewellery and their experience.
We offer lifetime jewellery cleaning, safety checking and maintenance on all our pieces. It is the best form of advertising for us, if our client’s creations are alive and sparkling.
Pink diamond ring with design sketch
You offer mens’ wedding rings in a variety of metals. Can these metals be combined in various ways to make a unique ring?
Men’s wedding bands are such an exciting and growing area. It has come so far from the days of an 18ct plain gold wedding band that most of our Dad’s generation wore. There are now many more metal options providing a greater scope for the design of a contemporary and functional ring.
We are doing a lot of work with Damascus Steel and combining it with white, yellow or rose gold inlays – quite often with a small black or white diamond detail. It is such an exciting metal to work with as it offers a pattern in the metal that provides the wearer with an understated detail.
Another unique option for gent’s wedding bands is Mokume Gane, an ancient Japanese technique of folding precious metals together in a similar way to the folding of steel in the creation of Samurai and Ninja swords. Guys love this! We have made some stunning mokume gane rings for ladies and men.
I am really excited about the direction we are heading with gents wedding bands. I am enjoying spending more time exploring the different design avenues and metal options. I have had some amazing damasus steel created, which we are currently designing and crafting into some very cool gents wedding bands and dress rings. I will keep you posted on the end result.
Mokume Gane wedders
Damascus steel with rose gold and black diamond detail
You also offer pearls and semi precious stones? Is there a trend to using more of these for wedding jewellery Or are they seen more as jewellery for every day wear?
Pearls and semi-precious stones are very popular for wedding jewellery. I don’t think you can go past a classic set of pearls on your wedding day.
Some semi precious stones – pearls included – do not always lend themselves to everyday wear as they are often not durable enough. Sapphires are the exception to this though as they have a high level of durability. We have made a number of sapphire engagement rings and dress rings. Sapphires are one of my favorite stones….what many people don’t realize is the range of colours they come in – green, pink, blue, purple. On a recent buying trip, I bought the most stunning naturally vibrant, vivid purple Sapphire. I am still trying to come up with the right design.
Damascus steel with rose gold inlay
What do you like to do when not thinking/sketching/designing jewellery?
I have two little girls who keep me very busy when I am away from the bench. Their energy is wonderful AND astounding.
Having lived in Italy, I have a love of good food, red wine and feasting with friends and family. I recently built a new pizza oven in my backyard. I am enjoying learning and practicing the art of wood fired pizzas.
Finally – travelling and experiencing new cultures keeps me inspired. We have a trip to Mozambique planned for later this year.
Thank you Rohan for giving us a glimpse into the exciting world of coloured diamonds and designing exquisite jewellery.
All images and the image of Rohan with Argyle Pear Shape Tender stone courtesy of Rohan Jewellery