Mixing traditional and contemporary, jeweller Allister Young is changing the game with his brand, Forever Young Jewellery.
Born and raised on Arrernte Country in Mparntwe/Alice Springs, the Yawuru man spent much of his early days between Mparntwe/Alice Springs and Darwin.
“On school holidays we’d go up to Darwin to see Mum’s family, they all moved over from Broome. Mum and two of her siblings were born in Darwin … and now I’m living in Darwin,” Young said.
The jeweller designs and produces one-of-a-kind, custom made silver and gold jewellery with an Aboriginal influence. Young was inspired to create through the influence of his Dad and Pop.
“Mum’s Dad, my Pop, was a Pearl Diver in Broome. One of the hardhat divers back in the day. The connection starts there.”
“I would spend most of my school holidays sitting with him and making jewellery out of the left over pearl shell that he had. Occasionally, when he was nice enough, I’d get to work on a bit of Turtle Shell which is pretty hard to come by nowadays,” Young said.
“Subconsciously it was an interest of mine from a very young age. My Dad, he used to fossick for gems throughout my childhood and I grew up looking for them with him.”
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Young began working towards being qualified for his profession, doing a four-year apprenticeship at Southbank Institute of Technology in Brisbane.
“I did my apprenticeship in Alice Springs but I’d go to Brisbane a month at a time,” he said.
“For a little desert rat like me it was pretty cool to get out of Alice and see a big city like Brisbane.”
Upon finishing, Young was a fully qualified jeweller and moved to Melbourne to try his luck.
“It didn’t really work out, and that’s where the business started. I realised that I wanted to do it for myself,” he said.
“I got a job in Ringwood, just out of the city. I learnt so much, it was a small business, and at that point I’d only worked with chain stores.
“It opened up my eyes to making, changed my mindset. And that’s where I started thinking about what I really wanted to do, which was work for myself.
“I wanted to do what I wanted to do, rather than what someone wants.”
Young’s jewellery is unique to its creator, featuring Aboriginal patterns and designs.
“Every piece of Aboriginal art whether it’s a painting or beading, or woven baskets, it all has a story behind it. That is why I wanted to do my own thing.”
“I haven’t really seen anything like this in silver and gold with semi-precious stones. You see your traditional beads, and nuts or carvings. But this is a mixture of traditional and contemporary jewellery,” he said.
One of his very first designs that featured Aboriginal patterns was a set of three rings for himself, his brother and his father.
“They are all slightly different, but I’m most proud of those because that was really the first pieces I made with the Aboriginal spin or influence on it,” he said.
“They’re so special as they are for family that I’m really close with. Despite Dad living in Tasmania — we’re still connected.”
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Finding his feet throughout COVID-19, Young took the time to establish his business.
“It’s when I kicked off and started getting some success,” he said.
“Being online was so good, I set up a workshop at home through the COVID period. It helped, it had something for me to focus on as I did lose my job for about two months.
“In that time, I was able to set everything up how I wanted it and it’s grown from there.”
With 2021 well underway, Young has hopes to grow the business bigger.
“The goal, might be unrealistic, but it’s to be working for myself solely by the end of 2021,” he said.
“It’s so good to have that goal, it’s something I’ll keep pushing towards whether it happens this year or in three years’ time. It’s something that is going to happen regardless of time.”
To see more from Forever Young Jewellery, visit: https://foreveryoungjewellery.com.au/.
By Rachael Knowles