Meet the Twins Handcrafting Spectacular High Jewelry from an Oceanside Workshop in Australia
David and Michael Robinson, the designers behind David Michael jewelry, are taking the high-jewelry world by storm with their fantastical creations
From a remote, solar-powered workshop by the sea in Queensland, Australia, identical twins David and Michael Robinson are creating the kind of fantastical high jewelry one regularly associates with Paris’s Place Vendôme. “Our design philosophy is to make unique works of art by hand using the same traditional techniques that would have been used in the best jewelry workshops from the past,” says Michael, who is responsible for their brand David Michael’s gem setting and pavé work. “We only ever think about how we can make each jewel even more special without considering time or money-saving shortcuts.”
While the brothers have their own inspirations, each project is a collaboration. “We work closely together and discuss concepts with each other, bouncing ideas back and forth between us,” Michael tells Galerie. The ideas are then put down on paper, first with a sketch and then a watercolor rendering. Each creation is one-of-a-kind and handmade by either David or Michael, who work on the pieces one at a time. “We work this way because we are extremely passionate about making special things, by not delegating aspects of a jewels creation. By not taking any modern computer aided shortcuts, we feel we deliver the most special and personal expressions of our original ideas as possible. Nothing is lost in the translation caused by outsourcing work to multiple people.”
Their creations feature an abundance of rare gems in beautiful color combinations. A show-stopping ring, which was on display at Sotheby’s in Palm Beach recently, features a stylized flower set with an old-mine cut diamond weighing 1.89 carats, with conch pearls, pink diamonds, rubies, pink sapphires, spinels, tsavorite, garnets, and green, yellow, and white diamonds. “We both love diamonds because of their strength and durability,” says Michael. “When an artist creates a painting they will choose the best paint and canvas available so their work doesn’t fade or crack over the decades. Diamonds offer our jewels the same permanence and come and a varied color palette which makes for some really interesting creations.”
The beauty of nature is a huge inspiration. Take, for example, their whimsical Rain or Shine earrings, inspired by memories of their childhood in New Zealand. Each is centered by a blue or yellow sapphire, and the clouds are carved out of Paspaley pearl shell. The pair have also recently clocked up around 400 hours working on a Koi Pond brooch, which sold for $52,920 Sotheby’s New York in December. The exquisite piece centers a portrait-cut rock crystal, depicting a koi pond painted on mother-of-pearl, bordered by tumbled black diamonds, round diamonds, moonstones, tsavorite garnets, and carved cochalong.
Their workshop, situated right on the water with floor to ceiling glass walls surrounded by lush tropical gardens, creates a peaceful environment for the pair to work on their craft without distractions. “It feels as though we are working outdoors most days,” says Michael. “We are surrounded by all the colors and textures that nature has to offer.” Everything in the studio is run on solar power, and there is also a rainwater collection system in place.
Now available in New York through Stephen Russell, their creations—which are limited to under ten pieces per year—have proven captivating to an Instagram audience. “We keep our production small not because of any self imposed marketing ploy, but because that’s all our two sets of hands have time to make given the complexity of our work,” says Michael. “My favorite piece is always the one I’m currently working on,” he adds. “The art of creating is what we really enjoy, pushing ourselves to the edge.”
A version of this article first appeared in print in our 2020 Winter issue under the headline “Stepping Stones.” Subscribe to the magazine.