Argent Silversmith is a small label of silver, opal, pearl and wood jewellery, designed and handmade in the Australian Alps. Designer Elizabeth Herman is perpetually influenced by the environment around her, crafting with metal, stone, texture and shape to illustrate the raw essence of the Alp’s uniqueness through minimalist design. Argent Silversmith is a by-product of Elizabeth’s surrounds, and it is certainly a labour of love, handmade with the finest craftsmanship and attention to detail. Each delicately constructed piece communicates a message that is much deeper than a simple accessory, privileging peculiarity over tradition and beauty over conformity.
Elizabeth’s journey into silversmithing has been just as organic as her pieces too; always drawn to jewellery, she set out trialling different methods of jewellery-making for years, none of which offered the method of communication she was truly searching for. A chance meeting with a trained silversmith led her onto the path of silversmithing herself, and thus, Elizabeth’s passions were realised. The more she created and innovated, the more interest she gained from friends and family, eventually building her confidence to launch Argent Silversmith.
She has now settled well into her craft with Argent Silversmith, and her designs are resolved yet complex, communicative yet suggestive, and they are striking. Each piece reflects the Australian Alps and the beauty of nature, symbolic of natural imperfections and the individuality of different shapes and forms. Growing up, she was a ‘sea baby’ who spent most of her free time in or near the ocean, or in the mountains skiing with her family, and these ‘close to nature’ experiences now shape her work today.
“Spending the majority of my childhood running wild in the outdoors has significantly impacted on my life today. Being in nature allows us to ‘just be’; to observe nature without any distractions and be appreciative of our surroundings and wellbeing. Incorporating nature’s mesmerising and intricate shapes, silhouettes and patterns into my jewellery pieces is a reminder to take a little time to do what you love and be grateful.”
Her appreciation of these simpler moments in life is expressed through her work, and she’s even named her collections as such. ‘Made on the Mountain’ and ‘Below the Surface’ are influenced by the mountains surrounding Elizabeth’s home, and the creatures found in the sea.
“The ‘Made on the Mountain’ range incorporates snow-capped mountain designs, gum leaves and tree designs, and my desire to incorporate wood into some of these pieces stems from living in this incredible part of the world. Wood itself is a precious and complex commodity, made by mother nature just like gems; it deserves to be shaped and set and polished in ways that underline its beauty. I wanted to create a mountain ring that could be worn as a day-to-day piece of jewellery, yet remain minimalistic in its design. The simplicity of the outcome combines two metals in a sophisticated design that can be worn with a turquoise puffer jacket or a little black dress. On the contrary, ‘Below the Surface’ is all about my connection to rivers and oceans. The designs highlight the beauty of pearls and the depth of the sea.”
Each intricate detail is carefully thought-out by Elizabeth, and her thorough design process considers innovative ways to use natural elements in her jewellery so as to let the piece speak for itself while translating her message.
“The base metal I use is sterling silver as it is plainly beautiful and can be contrasted with so many other metals and materials, and I use copper and brass for a contrast of colour and added tones. I use Red Ironbark and Blackwood, which I source from offcuts, as a raw element from nature, reminiscent of the Australian wilderness. Freshwater pearls are reborn from necklaces, and the opals I use are from Lightning Ridge, sourced by a café owner in Beechworth who cuts and polishes stones when he’s not making lattes.”
This method of recycling materials and sourcing locally are just two of the many ways Elizabeth applies ethics to her business, and practising sustainability is something that Elizabeth does every day too.
“I believe every piece I make should be crafted with passion, for the beholder to feel they own a unique piece of jewellery, and I believe in working with my community as inspiration to represent the aesthetic of Argent. Once Argent Silversmith is decidedly off the ground, I plan to donate a percentage of my profits to parkland conservation projects around the globe.”
The path Elizabeth has carved for Argent Silversmith is beginning to look quite bright, and she’s watched her business grow from strength to strength over the past year. She juggles managing a bush kindergarten with silversmithing, but Elizabeth says her primary challenge for the journey ahead will be finding the time to complete orders as she continues to gain traction. As for range developments in the foreseeable future, she’s happy to share a few secrets that will surely surprise her current fans.
“For all of you gold lovers, rose and yellow is coming soon!”
Shop Argent Silversmith’s nature-inspired collection at argentsilversmith.com.
The Fashion Advocate x