Melanie Katsalidis discovered the new Pieces of Eight site during one of Melbourne’s lockdowns.

“I used to go for epic walks through the city and dream about a time when everyone would return,” she tells Broadsheet. “One day I found what would be our future store. It was just the right size, in what is the jewellery district of Melbourne, and I could envision how we could transform it into a little treasure box-like space.”

Located in historic Royal Arcade directly under the beloved Gaunt’s Clock, Katsalidis’s new Pieces of Eight gallery is an expression of all things precious and covetable in contemporary jewellery. It’s a central location, quite different from her previous digs in Russell Place.

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Half of the store is devoted to wares from Pieces of Eight, the contemporary design and jewellery collective Katsalidis first launched in 2005. The other half is home to her own eponymous jewellery label.

“Opening in the Royal Arcade is an exciting move after spending the last 12 years in Russell Place, a CBD location that was really a destination and quite hidden,” Katsalidis says.

“The arcade is located in the thriving heart of the city and it’s quite incredible to see just how many more people we can access in this location, including a lot of tourists who are now returning to Melbourne.”

Visitors will discover pieces by more than 30 local and international artisans represented by Katsalidis via Pieces of Eight, from colourful and exquisitely detailed rings by goldsmith William Llewellyn Griffiths to “outrageously popular” decorative vessels crafted by visual artist Kate Rohde.

Also proving popular is Katsalidis’s latest pearl and chain collection, Link – a gender-neutral collection that evolves with new drops every month.

“People are really connecting with it, and I’ve also been working on a one-of-a-kind opal collection for the past two years where each piece is a one-off,” Katsalidis explains.

“I’m digging into my personal opal collection that I’ve sourced during my travels to Lightning Ridge and other mining locations, and I can’t wait to finally reveal all the pieces later this year with an exhibition in the store.”

The Royal Arcade shopfront, designed by Foolscap Studio, is an intimate and alluring space inspired by the concept of future histories.

“Future histories is a response to the idea that a piece of jewellery can be brought to life for a particular occasion, but it lives on as a legacy piece, and something that is passed down through generations as a loved and cherished object,” says Foolscap Studio director Adele Winteridge.

“We wanted to approach the space in the same way, through a lens of sustainability and honouring the materials that we were inheriting.”

The store is presented like a human-sized jewellery box, featuring calm, natural-toned materials such as a nougat-tinted fabrics and custom concrete sculptures that double as display plinths.

At the centre of the space sits a bold ripple bench upholstered in vivid blue that references the velvet ridges of a traditional ring tray – one of many objects Winteridge and her team designed especially for Pieces of Eight.

Other handmade features include a sculptural pendant light by Melbourne designer Brahman Perera and objects by Brisbane-based recycled construction specialists Five Mile Radius.

It’s personal, considered, and artisan-made – just like the jewellery and wares found within. “Our clients appreciate quality over quantity and the integrity of design and creativity demonstrated by our artists,” Katsalidis says.

“The best thing about jewellery is that we can maintain a relationship with clients over a lifetime, making pieces that will act as touchstones and talismans for years to come.”

Pieces of Eight
Shop 27 Royal Arcade, 335 Bourke Street, Melbourne

Hours:
Mon to Sat 11am–5pm

piecesofeight.com.au
@po8gallery