Melbourne based Julia deVille is an artist, jeweller and taxidermist who only uses subjects in her taxidermy that have died of natural causes. Julia is an advocate for animal rights. Her unique and beautiful jewellery making practice incorporates small sculptures and installations. She has created a beautiful studio space like no other where you will be taken into her haven and mesmerized by her jewels and creations. We take you inside her world and speak to Julia about what she is doing right now…
Tell us a little about your background and your brand
I have been making jewellery since 2002, which is when I also started learning taxidermy. Naturally my taxidermy work influenced my jewellery and vice versa. Over the years my jewellery has become more focused on bespoke wedding and engagement rings. I run a by appointment showroom in East Melbourne where my jewellery consultants meet with clients to facilitate their dream jewels.
What special procedures do you have in place to make sure that your customers are feeling safe at this unsettling time?
We have only just begun taking face to face consultations again. Anything that can be done via Zoom, email and phone is still done remotely but certain things like trying on rings and ring sizings require a physical appointment. We are keeping an hour between consultations so we can throughly clean any rings that were tried on as well as all surfaces etc. All clients and staff are required to wear masks during consultations. We are only allowing two people to attend each consultation (three including the consultant). Any collections of client orders are done at the door, instead of in the showroom, until it is safe to go back to normal practices.
What advice can you give to couples about to embark on their journey of choosing or designing their wedding and engagement rings?
I think the most important thing is to find a designer that represents your style. Once you have someone whose work you resonate with, make an appointment to see the range.
Try on a variety of things because often something that doesn’t jump out to you might really suit you when it’s worn. We often have people coming in for a specific style they’ve seen online but when they try it on it doesn’t look right and they end up going for something they never would have noticed on my website. When you try different rings on, you can also get a feel for what metal and gem colours suit you, again something that you might be quite surprised by.
Once this has all been established you can discuss customisations with the designer (or their consultants), who will be able to guid you towards a suitable design.
Tell us a bit about your space and the decor and what makes it so unique?
I launched my new showroom in August 2019 in a Victorian heritage listed building on the cusp of Melbourne’s CBD. It is everything I could have dreamed of and more; the aesthetic is exactly my style, the other tenants are kooky and lovely and we even have a resident ghost named Edith!
The space is filled with my sculptural taxidermy works and cabinets brimming with my jewellery. Vines and plants cover the room and crystal chandeliers drip from the ceiling, as well as a pink Adam Wallacavage octopus chandelier!
I am so proud of this space and I’m excited to be able to welcome clients back, because a big part of the experience of ordering one of my rings is coming to this magical place and being looked after by my lovely jewellery consultants. I constantly get feedback on how much people enjoyed the whole process from beginning to end.
What are your favourite pieces at the moment?
I am particularly fond of opals ring now. I’ve made a couple of very special one-off pieces using yellow gold and pairing opal with stones to bring out the fire like pink & pale blue sapphires and soft yellow diamonds. They’re not online but people can view them in the showroom.
Above is an example of an indictive piece, this was a one-off custom creation for a client.
How are you feeling about the future?
I’m actually feeling really positive. This experience has forced me to slow down and take stock of my practice and my life. I’ve decided to move up the coast and find a piece of land – I would have never realised this is what I want to do if COVID hadn’t happened!
Orders definitely came to a grinding halt and there were a couple of worrying months where I had to fight to keep my team in work. I made a commitment to them at the start to do everything in my power to keep them on because they are the backbone of what I do – I’m ever grateful for the way we all managed to navigate such a difficult situation together.
People are coming back to life and they’re booking appointments now that we’ve resumed face to face consultations. Orders are flowing once again and I feel like there will be a rush once weddings are opened up to more guests. I’m not so naive to think we are through this, but I know I can adapt my business model to take on future iterations of the pandemic.
We are actually in the process of setting up an online sale to sell off all of my silver stock and some excess precious stock. This is something we had been planning to do in the showroom this month in preparation for a move to focusing primarily on precious rings and jewellery. It may take us a bit longer to get it all online but hopefully, by the end of next month, we will be ready to launch.