Georgia Bonsema began making jewelled headpieces as a teenager. Fashioned from foraged antique trinkets found at markets, her passion led to her first business, Wilhelmina and I, which saw her wares sold at various boutiques in Melbourne. She relocatied to LA and then London for study and work, then put her label on hold to work in marketing. In 2019 By Georgia was born. It’s a contemporary jewellery brand inspired by Bonsema’s European heritage and love of art.
“My dad is Australian and my mum is Dutch, so growing up I spent a lot of time in Holland and Europe visiting family,” she says. “My mum loved interior design, architecture and history so we spent a lot of our trips exploring different European towns and cities and visiting a lot of art galleries. This definitely sparked something in me – I knew from a young age that I wanted to do something creative and I was always really drawn to painting and jewellery.”
Beginning with a very small collection in December last year, Bonsema has built By Georgia slowly. “Covid definitely changed my business structure,” she says. “I had a lot of issues with samples. They were often delayed and ended up looking different to how I designed them. I didn’t feel like I had the creative control that I wanted.”
Like so many other business owners during Covid, Bonsema had to pivot. She abandoned all overseas production and adopted a made-in-Melbourne method across all facets of her business, including using local suppliers and casting houses. “Making jewellery in Melbourne is more expensive, but I try to keep my prices within a reasonable range.”
It also gifted her a precious commodity: time, which allowed her to broaden her practice. “I design my jewellery from wax to start with. I wanted to create more organic handmade pieces with different textures and layering techniques.”
Bonsema now works out of her home studio in Armadale and has spent the past eight months learning, designing and crafting her new collection, The Golden Age. A contemporary homage to Europe’s opulent Renaissance period, Bonsema was inspired by the “perfectly imperfect”, using the wax-casting process to create pieces that celebrate idiosyncrasy and imperfection. “The process allows organic markings to transfer onto the metals when cast, so each piece becomes truly unique,” she says.
Made in either sterling silver or brass with optional 24-carat-gold plating, Golden Age is the second collection for the brand and includes earrings, bracelets, necklaces, rings, cufflinks, eyewear chains and personalised jewellery. The pieces have intricate gold work, textural nuances and floral motifs, and natural freshwater pearls and gemstones.
“My favourite earrings are the Revival No.1 earrings. They were my first design I made in this collection and I wanted to create an everyday piece that was more unique.” She also loves the Magari earrings, which invert the traditional hoop. They also took the longest to create. But for summer, it’s all about a pop of colour (and functionality).
“I love to add a bit of colour in my life where I can, so I wear the Frankie chain on my sunglasses. At the moment I’m wearing the yellow and pearl combination, they are really handy to have so you don’t lose your sunnies or glasses.”
By Georgia’s new collection Golden Age is available now online.