Astley Clarke

Astronomy with Dominic Jones

As his first collection for Astley Clarke lands, Dominic Jones talks intergalactic inspiration and natural stones with star quality

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The tides are changing at Astley Clarke. Once the jewellery world’s master of macabre, newly appointed creative director Dominic Jones has opened up the brand to a new generation of followers, setting his outré aesthetic aside in favour of the mysteries of the cosmos: introducing the Astronomy collection. With interplanetary forms as his muse, and a campaign fronted by British model and close friend Adwoa Aboah, the designer’s Astley Clarke debut sees the planets of the solar system reborn as otherworldly natural stones. Here, he talks celestial inspirations and launching the iconic jeweller into the fashion sphere.

What attracted you to Astley Clarke?The pairing originally came about when Carmen Busquets (an Astley Clarke shareholder) got in touch having seen the jewellery I created under my own label. Astley Clarke celebrates colour and I wanted to pair this with elements of my own, more sculptural work, but also move myself on. I see this as my painting period.

Why did you design your debut collection in three parts?It all came about quite organically, I wanted two new fine collections and one contemporary and I was playing with idea of light and colour that Astley Clarke is so well known for.

What was your starting point?I looked at all sort of things from ancient Hermetica, Rosicrucian and astrological illustrations from the incredible Ritman Library, all the way to the most recent and mind-blowingly beautiful images from the final missions of the NASA spacecraft Cassini. I think the pieces sit quite strongly between these two, the simple discs filled with marbled ethereal natural textures.

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What inspired the Astronomy installment?When I was spending time getting to know the brand, there was a recurring theme across a lot of their previous collections of astrology and space, collections named things like Cosmos, Rising Sun and Interstellar. My reaction to these was to create a collection that had more of a scientific point of view, looking to astronomy and at our solar system.

How did you capture the essence of each planet?I treated it a bit like a painter’s palette, matching the tones and textures naturally found in the stones with each distinctive planet.

Who do you see wearing the pieces?I really want fine jewellery to be inclusive; I have deliberately designed pieces at different price points, starting at £345 up to £4500 for the hero Earth earrings. So, I would hope to be able to see all types of women wearing these pieces!

Which is your favourite?I always find these ‘favourite’ questions hard… The labradorite of Jupiter is a truly incredible stone, especially in the simplicity of cut we use – you really get to enjoy its ethereal galaxy-like depth, but in a subtle, understated way. I also love the often over-looked moss agate used in Venus, which is such a wonder of nature – so much detail and depth, so space-like. I could go through each of the pieces and tell you how much I love each of them.

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Your presentation at London Fashion Week was spectacular. How did the concept come about?Thank you! I wanted to show the jewellery in a dynamic way and also, because it was inspired by science, I wanted to bring that to the presentation. I created a moving orrery, a scaled down version of the solar system, and got my good friend the artist Tomo Campbell to paint two large canvases as the backdrop. These two things beautifully brought science and art together.

Why do you think astronomy is so fascinating?It is such an endless, ever changing part of life that we often forget about. We see ourselves as the centre of everything whereas, in reality, we have no idea what is out there. I find that very humbling and, the thought of something else being out there, fascinating.

Are you interested in astrology?Not really, beyond knowing my star sign. I don’t read horoscopes as I’m happy to take life as it’s served to me. That said, a friend of mine read the birthday book to me and it was scarily accurate, like it had been written just for just me.

What star sign are you?Cancer – apparently a typical one!

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What’s your vision for Astley Clarke going forwards?I want to treat, and communicate with, our customers in the way fashion brands do. I’ve had a long history of doing campaign-like lookbooks with my own brand, which I’ve brought to Astley Clarke, but also I want to create collections that have narratives and tell stories. The British Fashion Council kindly allowed me to show my first collections on schedule at London Fashion Week, which for a jewellery brand is unheard of, and is a big statement of intent and representation of where I'm trying to take Astley Clarke – out of the stuffy world of jewellery.

Can you share a Liberty London memory?That’s a tough one as I’ve had so many. I launched my collaboration with Lady Amanda Harlech at Liberty and we turned it into a woodland filled with terrariums I made, I’ve DJ’ed for the launch of the World Land Trust’s bamboo silk Liberty scarfs, but I think the most amazing memory I have is when the Theo Adams Company performed Cry Out in your store. That was definitely a memory not to forget!

10% of sales from all Earth pieces will be donated to the world land trust. Why was this important to you?I have been an ambassador of the World Land Trust for the last five years: they help to protect the planet’s most endangered environments and precious ecosystems. Jewellery inherently uses resources from the earth, from the iridescent labradorite in Jupiter to gold, and I wanted to give something back and help to protect the planet for the future.

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