When you think of jewellery…you may not think about its jewellery designer as being a mathematician. But creating very intricate jewellery can be a really mathematical process…as Leonid Dementiev will tell you.
I came across Leonid’s extraordinary work at Goldsmith’s Fair and was blown away by the beautiful detail, which looks so traditional, but so contemporary at the same time. It reminds me of a modern take on filigree, but with modern and geometric shapes.
Find out more about Leonid’s childhood in Nepal and how his biggest inspiration is his Great-Grandfather (who was a master artisan)…
How would you describe your jewellery?
When I was in college I studied further maths extensively as I thought I’d become either a civil or aerospace engineer. I had so much passion for maths and especially geometry. That sort of background is so crucial in my designs. It allows me to intertwine organic shapes with geometry and make the structures of my jewellery strong, durable and yet light.
What materials do you use?
In my work material plays the most important role – as through material I explore aesthetic and design. I work with common materials and semi-precious metals (like copper) to create models and try ideas. The final works are made of gold, silver, diamonds and coloured gemstones, that will last for generations.
Your jewellery is so beautifully intricate, how do you create your designs?
The craftsmanship behind my collection has taken me a long time to develop. Like my great grandfather I spent time in workshop learning from many mistakes and hours of practicing old metalsmithing techniques. My collection can be described as intricate wirework.
Who else inspires you?
My everyday inspiration has always been my Great-Grandfather, stories of whom I’ve heard so many times from my mother. The most treasured values that I stand for and believe in are what I gathered from those stories.
He was a self-taught master artisan, famous for the quality of his work and highest level of craftsmanship in silver and iron. It takes a heart of great passion for learning the true essence of material to become a self taught blacksmith. He had to practically reinvent many techniques of the craft and experiment with materials, shape and patterns to achieve the quality he was striving for.
I feel that we share the same passion. This fascination with materials can be traced from my early childhood. I sculpted a range of highly delicate and detailed figurines, inspired by the day to day life of people and the indigenous creatures of Nepal – where I spent the most unforgettable years of my childhood. The tactile qualities of clay enchanted me and I loved how it allowed me to see and understand the material at a much deeper level.
What’s the piece you’re most proud of creating?
I remember how happy I was when I first had my ‘Milestone’ rings at a show. It was so wonderful to hear the positive feedback, but the most amazing thing was to see how much people loved the concept of making that ring their own. Totally customised with their chosen colours, patterns and engravings.
I remember that one order for the Milestone ring came from a family for their daughter. She was leaving home to move abroad and study after her 21st birthday. A big family of eight people came to my studio. Each one of them picked their own stone and we decided on the pattern to be set in the ring, leaving blank spaces that she could fill with her stones later on in life. It was such a wonderful moment, I absolutely loved making that ring, it had so much emotion and meaning behind it.
What’s your favourite part of being a Jewellery Designer?
For me it’s the creative process of constantly learning. Learning new techniques, history, culture, materials, languages, stories. The never ending curiosity is what I love and being a designer and artist lets me explore endlessly.
Do you work directly with customers? Or sell your work to galleries?
I do have stockists, however I still work mostly directly with people and I think it’s important to have that personal connection with clients. Knowing their stories and seeing them in person makes it that much more meaningful. Getting to know a client as a person is what big brands can’t do and that’s what makes it so special.
You have to be very multi-skilled as a jeweller – i.e. web designer, photographer, tea maker etc! How do you find that?
I think in the modern age it’s absolutely vital to work and collaborate with other professionals. Networking is so important. It’s not possible to be the best at everything involved in creating a good brand or business. So I think that being open to suggestions, help and support is a really important part of being a creative these days.