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Bobby Corica talks sustainability in jewellery design

My name is Bobby Corica, and I run a small jewellery and object design studio named 'Sguscio Studio'. I fell into silversmithing after feeling unfulfilled with my photography practice at the end of 2019. I have always been obsessed with jewellery, its metallic qualities, and what it means and represents for different people. I have always enjoyed working with my hands; however, throughout my schooling, I was encouraged to follow a more academic route even though I don't learn particularly well within traditional educational contexts. After deciding to pursue jewellery as a hobby, I enrolled in a 6-month short course at a polytechnic; however, it only lasted a few weeks before I decided to approach jewellery more self-directedly. Therefore, I am fundamentally self-taught in my practice. Despite my non-traditional route into the jewellery industry, I have been able to exhibit my work within institutions such as Craft Victoria (Melbourne), JamFactory (Adelaide), and, most recently, the National Gallery of Victoria as part of the 2022-2023 Alexander McQueen retrospective: Alexander McQueen: Mind, Mythos, Muse. Sustainability in the arts and design sector was never something that I ever set out to focus on. Instead, it seemed so basic and necessary that it became a core principle for my practice by default. Ever since I was a teenager, I have been aware of the significant impact of the human race on the environment and the even more significant impact that human ignorance has on the planet. The resources every jeweller on the planet uses are finite, meaning they are not limitless and must be taken from somewhere, often using procedures that are harmful to both the local environment and the people who are facilitating these procedures. From exploiting miners in countries less privileged than ours to using highly toxic compounds such as Mercury to extract gold, the jewellery industry is an industry of exploitation that has been beautified via marketing and advertising to distract from the deep ugliness at its core.

My stance as a designer working within this context and being aware of both the environmental AND human exploitation that the industry perpetuates is to ensure that my impact is as minimal as possible. Using lab-made stones that are molecularly identical to their natural counterparts and recycled metals (when they are available to me) are very small things that I can do. These things, although small, can have a massive impact if other independent jewellers adopt them alongside larger corporations such as Michael Hill etc. However, it must be said that it can be easier for sole traders and independent jewellers to implement these changes within their practices than their larger commercial counterparts. One of the biggest differences between a designer like myself and those working for commercial jewellers is that I am a single-person operation and can alter my design ethos as my morality grows. There are probably many jewellers working within commercial and more traditional contexts that also share my views and fears; however, it is hard to change the mindset of a corporation operating for many years without these sustainability frameworks. Making these choices as a community increases the demand for more sustainable ways of making and will signal to more giant corporations and foundries that we are interested in the future of our planet. Australian companies within the jewellery sector have a profound lack of care for the environment and the people they exploit down the line. The worth of a piece of jewellery should not be proportional to the amount of suffering that has been endured during its production.

Bobby Corica is a 2022 Italian Australian Fellowship recipient who intends to research repurposing and recycling waste materials within design practice, with a focus on glassblowing and silversmithing. Bobby will be travelling to Italy in 2023 to research innovative sustainable practices and how they can be applied within Australia.

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