IMAGE BY MARC JOHNS

Designer Amanda Jex officially started her career in jewelry in 2008, launching JEX Jewelry as a simple assembled jewellery line at Edmonton, Alberta boutique Nokomis Clothing. She has since honed her skills in classrooms, apprenticeships and workshops all over the globe from Vancouver, BC and London, UK to Jaipur, India and Melbourne, Australia. It was during this time that she learned the ancient art of lost wax casting, stone setting, wax carving, hand soldering and forming that have become the fundamental processes she uses to create JEX Studio designs today. JEX Studio is committed to producing each and every piece of jewellery by hand within the UK. We rest easy knowing that we have created a product that we can stand proudly behind. 

Q&A with MadeofJewelry.com

MoJ: What is your process? 

Amanda: As a designer/maker, I like to challenge myself to design or create at least one thing a day, it keeps things fresh and gets the creativity flowing. When designing collections I will decide on a theme, and then begin exploring my world and environment with some basic guidelines as to the feeling I’m trying to convey for the season. I normally look to my own past for little relics and objects that have had a lasting impression on me or make me feel a certain way. While traveling I’ll also try to find objects that strike me as unique or beautiful within other cultures or things that seem to hold lasting emotive qualities.

Once I’ve sourced a sufficient amount of items & ideas, I attempt to elevate them in such a way that they may evoke these sorts of lasting impressions for others, it kind of snowballs from there. I approach my workbench with a concept and inspiration and see what happens. Sketches are translated into carved wax & then cast by me into a final metal form that I hand finish and detail. 75% of my designs end up being sold as one off's, the concept either doesn't work or may not be cohesive enough for the collection, but when it does work it's magic! 

I try not to look at the fashion world so that my designs can be unique and true to me. Hand finishing is done with great attention to detail. I think the hand finishing is what keeps my super modern shapes looking warm and organic. If I use stones in the design, these ethically sourced stones are also set by hand. 

MoJ: How did you get involved in designing jewelry? 

Amanda: I was always making things. Being the daughter of creative parents who always encouraged me to explore my creative inclinations, I had the understanding early on that I could bring any idea to fruition with the right planning. It’s a pretty powerful feeling. Just like any kid, I’d spend Summers making and selling friendship bracelets at garage sales with friends, embroidering my jeans, collecting quartz and fossils, making 'potions' and fiddling around hammering copper wire in my Dad’s workshop – this eventually provoked him to build me a beading loom. Once I hit the mandatory Sears catalogue age of 9+ I got a rock tumbler for Christmas.. It all just naturally evolved from there. 

I graduated from a Liberal Arts high school where I had the opportunity to study fine art and sculpture. Once graduation rolled around I knew I wanted to continue studying art but also suffered from severe wanderlust and so (against my parents wishes) blew all of my retail job savings and went traveling with a girlfriend around South America for 3 months – here I came across countless communities of traditional artisans and silversmiths, working with their hands while practicing the art of their elders - this experience really changed my perceptions of what I wanted to do with my life. When I returned home I decided to leave my comfort zone and move from Edmonton, Alberta to Vancouver, BC where I had been accepted into Vancouver College’s Fashion Arts program with a focus on Clothing and Textile Design. After graduating I figured “why pigeon hole myself?” and enrolled into a Metal Arts program. 

The following Christmas my Dad gave me my late Grandpa Jex's metal files as a gift. My entire childhood, I'd been surrounded by metal objects that he had created with his own two hands in his spare time while working for the Royal Canadian Air Force as a Metal Technician. He'd invented tools of his own to make the job easier, the very tools that I played around with in my Dad's workshop all those years ago. Working with metal, hammers and flame is in my blood, and I hadn't even realized it. 
Without that initial support from my family and community to get out there and hit the ground running creatively, I couldn’t imagine where I’d be. It’s been a pretty amazing journey.

MoJ: What do you want your customers to take away when they buy your pieces?

Amanda: Well, I am fortunate enough to spend my days doing what I love most; giving people a snapshot of the way that I experience the world through my work. I like to think I’m making something that my customers can create a bond with, that act as a sort of personal talisman. Although each design has a very specific inspiration for me, I like the wearer to decide what it means to them. Ultimately, making a lasting impact is my motivation; to ethically make something of substance to the wearer - that isn’t expendable in a disposable world.

I am consistently attempting to do my part to preserve traditional metalsmithing as both an art form and way for me to sustain myself financially.

Thank you for supporting my little dream!