By MANDY TE.
Asher Freeman describes his jewellery company, Freeman Jewellery Design in three words: Ethical, bespoke and handcrafted. With ten years of experience under his belt, Asher is no stranger to the industry.
From wanting to be a palaeontologist to becoming a paper runner for Central Leader and working at Pizza Hut to now, Asher has been on quite a journey.
After using large copper sheets on a woodwork project when he was fifteen, he soon became interested in jewellery making. However, it was only at the age of seventeen that he decided to professionally pursue this career path.
People wanting to become jewellers often have a six-year apprenticeship with a manufacturing jeweller, but this was not the case for Asher. “I – and a lot of up-and-comers in New Zealand, went to The Peter Minturn Goldsmith School,” he says.
“It’s a privately-run jewellery school in Kingsland, Auckland. A top jeweller recommended the school to me and it is the perfect start for anybody interested in jewellery making.”
The School trains its students in the traditional ways of jewellery making, condensing the six-year apprenticeship into a three-year Diploma of Goldsmithing. From there, grads have the skills to pursue the type of jewellery they want to make.
“Of the people I know who have been through the School, one is now in fashion/jewellery design, a few have become high-end jewellers for different top jeweller companies – one being picked out of hundreds to work for a top jewellery company in Sweden, making pieces worth literally hundreds of thousands of dollars, if not more! – and some have gone on to do more contemporary art jewellery.”
Asher first launched his company, Freeman Jewellery Design, in 2014. After working for two of New Zealand’s top jewellers for seven years, he began to “get the itch” to pursue some of his own aspirations for design and creativity.
“I wanted to have complete freedom to express beauty without limitation, and to make that a reality.”
Asher finds inspiration for his pieces in the world around him. “But I’ve noticed recently that the majority of my inspiration is coming from landscape pictures with intense colouring and architecture,” he says.
He also cites Japanese art as a huge influence on his work and has found that his jewellery is taking on “an art deco/Japanese flavour with clean lines and strong contrasts.”
When asked about his opinion on the phrase, 'do what you love and you’ll never work a day in your life', Asher says: “With anything you love, you have to work at developing it.”
One challenge he faces in his job is “balancing all the aspects, big and small, that need to be done in the business versus finding time for new designs and developing them.”
The rewards far outweigh this issue, although Asher has trouble naming what he enjoys most about his job. “If I had to pick, it would be working closely with people on their aspirations for what they want, and then in turn, designing it for them, seeing it come to life, and then seeing their reactions when they try the finished piece on for the first time. It’s great seeing how much joy it gives people.”
To Asher Freeman, creativity is “the expression of self. In whatever form that comes.” For him, the form is jewellery making. If that’s something you’re also interested in, here are some links that can help you pursue this creative career.
Peter Minturn (NZ) Goldsmith School
Hungry Creek Art & Craft School
Jewellery Industry Registration Board of New Zealand
Check out Asher Freeman's work here:
Interview and images by Erica McQueen