Antique Jewelry: The New ‘It’ Thing? From the Reliquary creates a timeworn aesthetic

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From the Reliquary is a hand-wrought jewelry line created by Phoenix-based artist Alex Ozers, who utilizes a variety of metalsmithing techniques to create antique-like jewelry from scratch.

From hammers to mandrels, Ozers uses rustic textures to shape mixed metals into bold, one-of-a-kind pieces of jewelry that feature a timeworn aesthetic.

“If you go to the mall and you get a really nice silver ring and it starts to tarnish, that’s a problem,” Ozers says. “The way I make stuff is, if it starts to tarnish, that’s part of it and its growth as a piece.”

Ozers creates his pieces to not only withstand the test of time, but to get better with age.

“It will just get better because it already has that texture built into it,” he says. “It’s meant to look old.”

Ozers’ jewelry-making process has two main stages: design and production.

According to Ozers, the designing aspect of a piece can be very difficult.

“You have to be in the right mood to design, and the more detailed I get, the more tedious it becomes,” he says.

Once Ozers settles on an interesting design, he moves on to the production stage, when he takes his time to craft an authentic piece of work.

Ozers says people tend to be drawn to concepts that are familiar and feel intimidated by playing with things that are a little different.

“Some of the jewelry I make is very bold, and I think that can frighten some people,” he says. “But once you put them on, I feel like you’d feel much more confident and powerful wearing them.”

Ozers says he tries to avoid basic or classic ideas that can be found anywhere.

“The further along I get into my artistic career, the more interested I am in pushing boundaries and doing new things,” he says.   

Ozers says it can be disappointing when something he’s excited about doesn’t translate visually to other people.

“Making things from scratch and putting so much detail and intensive labor (into them), people might not see that unless you know the process,” he says.

Another obstacle is the fragility of his resources.

“I can be an hour and a half into a piece, and if it melts or breaks, then it’s gone,” he says. “I remember one time I was working with cyanite, which is a really pretty blue stone that’s fragile, and I was prong-setting it into this ring and the stone just snapped.”

Before From the Reliquary

Ozers attended ASU, where he took art classes such as painting.

“I wanted to paint, but paintings fall under the umbrella of fine art that I felt like I was cheating myself,” he says. “I didn’t want to paint paintings that would just look pretty over a couch.”

Ozers also took a metalsmithing class where he learned how to make jewelry.

At first, Ozers made jewelry and gave it as gifts to friends and family, but he quickly learned that making jewelry was “freeing” and “refreshing.”    

“What’s great about jewelry is that there’s no political agenda or heavy-duty theories you could put down behind a pair of earrings,” he says.

“That freed me up to just be fine in making the prettiest and coolest thing I could come up with.”

Ozers says his favorite piece is his shield-bearer earrings, a design that took him years to perfect.

“I’ve changed it up a lot,” he says. “I’ve embossed it, changed the designs on it … Sometimes I’ll form them more or less domed, but even though I change it, everybody always loves them, which is great.”

Lisa Olson, who owns Practical Art in downtown Phoenix, carries Ozers’ jewelry line and has him as a featured artist there.

“We’ve been working with Alex for the last six to seven years,” she says. “What caught our attention was his bold statement jewelry, and the texturing he did in his work was amazing.”

Olson owns a pair of Ozers’ shield-bearer earrings and says she loves that they’re lightweight and unique.

From the Reliquary is currently being sold in 15 stores in Arizona, Wyoming and Portland.

“I never thought I was going to have a creative job,” Ozers says. “I assumed that I would be in debt from our school and work at a part-time retail job.”

Three years ago, Ozers left his part-time job at MADE Art Boutique to pursue his interest in jewelry.

“I felt like I was okay and that I could actually do this,” he says. “It was really incredible to be completely in charge.”  

For more information on Ozers, visit www.fromthereliquary.com or follow him on Instagram at @aozers.

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