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August 13, 2020
Commerce

The gothic beauty of jewellery by Eugene Yen

Emerging jewellery makers Ann Nguyen and Eugene Lipczyk hand-fire angular rings, flush with gems, which challenge the aesthetic of the city's accessories scene.

  • Words: Angela Skujins
  • Pictures: Supplied

Eugene Lipczyk says he’s heard the ornate rings he and partner Ann Nguyen make as part of project Eugene Yen look vampire- and dragon-like.

He’s not thrilled with the association – “that stuff is embarrassing,” Eugene tells CityMag – but there’s no denying the pieces lean into morose colours and shapes one could associate with mythical beasts, or at least gothic imagery.

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Eugene Yen is whittling away at its next collection.
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The genesis of Eugene Yen started when the pair were invited to participate in Common Practice, the pop-up marketplace held by Commons Studio last month.

“We didn’t really know what we were going to be making at that point,” Eugene says.

“I haven’t made anything prior to this, so some of these were my first works. It was more of an exploration of the materials and the process.”

This wasn’t the first time Ann had experimented with silvers and gold. Jewellery-making is in her blood.

Ann’s grandfather made jewellery professionally, as well as her dad. She never thought she would end up taking to the practice, and was attracted to science in high school, which she then pursued at university.

However, Ann eventually transferred to a University of South Australia Bachelor of Contemporary Art degree, because it was more aligned with her creative inclinations. She majored in jewellery-making and something clicked – particularly the hands-on aspect of the process.

Now Ann enjoys experimenting with traditional techniques, while pushing materials to their limits.

“I wanted Eugene Yen to move away from the traditional metalsmithing techniques and explore the materials itself,” Ann says.

“We use the lost-wax process and I just wanted to explore those boundaries, rather than just sticking to what I’ve been taught about jewellery making.”

“We were casting the gems in wax,” Eugene adds, “which is a risky way to do it, but we were just exploring that method and seeing what we could do.”

So far, Eugene Yen has released a single body of work, made up of 12 rings. They are all unisex and intended to be worn by anyone.

The stones cast are all reclaimed or synthetic, as Eugene and Ann hope for their brand to be ethical in its processes. Pieces start from $150 and vary depending on materials and labour.

The big gems and gothic claw style nods to avant-garde trends occurring interstate, kicked off by designers like punk Sydneysider Ebonny Munro and Melbourne kitsch designer MGN Jewellery.

As for their own inspiration, Eugene and Ann say they look towards experimental designers from further afield, such as New Zealand-based Lisa Walker and her partner Karl Fritsch for inspiration.

“For us, we were re-learning as we go, and by trying new things that we haven’t really done, or isn’t really done within the jewellery scene,” Ann says,

Because of this, Ann and Eugene don’t see Eugene Yen as a brand, but as an artistic project free from commercial restraints.

The duo are currently working on a new collection, which will be unveiled as part of a solo art exhibition pegged for a date later in the year.

Keep an eye on Eugene Yen‘s socials for more information and slide into their DMs to purchase a design.

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