Harlin Jones: Inner Rock Star Jewels
Jewelry designer and former graffiti artist, Sumer Sayan, named his brand after a rock star alter-ego. His confident creations explore the rock and roll aesthetic, and incorporate the energy and style of New York City in provocative collections. Read our exclusive interview, to learn more about the design inspiration behind his brand, Harlin Jones, and his jewelry journey.
In your own words, what makes your style unique?
My style of design has a certain edginess which may be seen as slightly masculine, but I try to create all my work with soft curves, which gives it a feminine touch and a nice balance of subtle confidence.
Can you talk a bit about your international jewelry internship, learning the fundamentals of handcrafting in Turkey, and how that impacted your early development and design aesthetic?
Looking back now, for me learning the fundamentals of handcrafting jewelry was essential! It is extremely important to understand how jewelry is assembled and how certain mechanisms work, as well as and how they are constructed. Having a good understanding of the crafting side of things gives you a greater understanding of design, from proportions to balance and weight, which again is essential as a designer.
In your youth, you were a graffiti artist. How did you transition from doing graffiti art to fine jewelry design?
The transition was a natural one, as I was always an artistic kid! Whether it was doing graffiti or drawing cartoon characters, I was always drawing something. Having that graffiti background was a bonus for me as a jewelry designer.
As a graffiti artist you work on trying to create your own style (there is nothing worse than a graffiti artist copying another graffiti artist’s style). You also learn to have a good understanding of proportions and color palates, which are all important in the world of jewelry design.
What inspired you in Sydney that sparked a love and passion for designing jewelry?
I worked alongside some of the best jewelers in Sydney, gaining a lot of experience as a bench jeweler… but that wasn’t satisfying enough for me. Creative people have always got something brewing in their heads, which needs to come out and see the light of day. I think it was a natural move to make from strictly creating jewelry as a bench jeweler, to then wanting to create pieces that I designed myself, and trying to find my voice and aesthetic as a designer.
What was the name and inspiration behind your first collection? Tell us about it.
I came up with the first collection (which was a men’s collection) purely by making the pieces for myself, which were inspired by an edgy rock and roll aesthetic. Once I had a few pieces, I only then decided to create an actual brand! I never created the pieces with the thought of creating a website, or company name for that matter. The name Harlin Jones came about as a rock star alter ego I came up with, to tie into the aesthetic of the collection.
Have you noticed a change in your designs since you moved to New York? How has the city, and the connections you made here, infused itself into your work?
Moving to NY and being hit with this unbelievable energy, my style of designing completely changed! My work now is a lot edgier and louder! There’s a confidence this city carries, which you can’t help but be influenced by.
You also have a completely different clientele here, compared to Sydney, which as a designer you have to adapt and cater to, whilst still trying to stay true to your style and aesthetic.
What advice would you give to aspiring jewelry students, who are just starting out?
Patience! Work on creating your own style and aesthetic! And don’t worry about what everyone else is doing.
The Madden Brothers, Charlie Sheen and Keith Urban wear your designs. Who else would you love to see wearing your work next, and why?
I’d love to see Lenny and Zoe Kravits wearing my work! I’m a huge fan of both of them. Love their style, and aesthetically think they’d look great in Harlin Jones pieces.
What is the best thing about your job? Why do you enjoy being a designer?
I love the process! From that initial idea that floats around in your head, to the scribbling on a piece of paper, than to the sourcing of materials, to crafting the piece, and bringing it to life.
Is there advice you give to first-time jewelry customers about caring for their jewelry, or wearing it?
Absolutely. I always tell them to treat it as something they’d like to pass down to their kids. I think that’s the difference between high end fine jewelry and fashion jewelry.
Describe the most complex piece of jewelry you have worked on to date.
The Diabla Ring, which I created for the Jewellers Association of Australia (JAA) awards back in 2010; it was a very complex ring filled with intricate filigree work.
What is the legacy you would like to leave behind, both personally and professionally?
Honesty is my word! Both personally and professionally! Do and give your best, and do it with honesty.