The designer behind London-based brand, Astratelli, Domini Hogg, started making jewellery at the age of 11, and sold her first piece at just 15. But, she didn’t actively pursue a career as a professional designer until she graduated from the University of Cambridge.
It was then that she knew creating jewellery would allow her to truly express herself, both creatively and artistically. By allowing her imagination to run wild, Domini designs one-of-a-kind gem-centric jewellery of all shapes and sizes. No two pieces are the same.
We chat with Domini about how jewellery is her form of expression and why she doesn’t want to become an established brand that everyone knows.
When did you first fall in love with jewellery?
“I feel like I was born loving jewellery. When I was about seven my mother organised a jewellery making birthday party for me. I can’t tell whether she did it because she already knew I loved jewellery or because she thought it would be fun herself. Either way I was addicted and have made jewellery ever since, launching my first jewellery business aged 15.”
How have the people in your life influenced your collections?
“I grew up in the middle of the beautiful Hampshire countryside. It was just trees, rivers and animals all around us. I have three collections and they each reflect the influence of one of the three adults I grew up with: my parents and my godfather who lived with us."
"My father taught me to love nature and to love solitude. That has had a big impact on my work."
"My Space For You Collection is based on the calm elation experienced when enjoying a vast and incredible panorama, inspired by my mountaineer father who I have endless happy memories of enjoying the sun rise over a glacier. From my mother I developed a taste for the exotic and a love of life. It is to her that I owe my Spice of Life collection, which brings out the underappreciated beauty of spices and food from around the world. My godfather is Greek and insists on pointing out the influence that Greek culture has on today’s world at every opportunity. This was one of the reasons I was inspired to study Classics at Cambridge. My knowledge of classical art is a rich source of inspiration for me now as a designer and I have created my Classic Goddess collection based on ancient Cycladic female figurines.”
How did you get into the jewellery industry?
Domini decided relatively late that she wanted to pursue jewellery design and so hasn’t gone down the route of most designers. After she graduated, she spent a year in China continuing her studies into wax carving and polishing, and at it was at this point she realised she didn’t want to live without designing jewellery. On her return to London, Domini enrolled and completed the GIA’s graduate gemologist course and attended a short-course with Van Clef & Arpels. “It hasn’t been easy without the typical qualifications, but everyone has been so encouraging and I now feel much richer for having studied in so many places and learnt from so many different people.”
"My jewellery is a form of visual communication that starts conversations without giving answers. It is meant to intrigue and provoke, but not tell."
What drove you to start your own jewellery line?
“Jewellery for me is a form of expression. I studied art at school, but somehow the canvas was always too large and two dimensional. I had too much leeway to splurge and lose the essence of what I was trying to convey. My jewellery is a form of visual communication that starts conversations without giving answers. It is meant to intrigue and provoke, but not tell. I came to the conclusion that jewellery design was the way I expressed myself best, and then it was a no-brainer.”
Where do you do your best work?
“It doesn’t matter to me where I work. I’ve designed jewellery on planes before or walking around Battersea Park. The most important factor is a sense of excitement and a relaxed mind. There is no knowing when or where the sense of excitement might come. Travelling, reading and the gemstones themselves are normally stimuli I can rely upon. Once I have finished a design, I work with a goldsmith in London who makes it up for me. This gives me more time to spend on the design work.”
What is the most meaningful piece of jewellery you own?
“Throughout my life, various members of my family have been collecting charms for me to go on the charm bracelet my grandmother gave me at my christening. When I turned 18 I was given the bracelet complete with all the charms from every episode of my life. It holds so many memories for me with so many different people. I have now turned it into a necklace by cutting one of the links and threading a ribbon through each end. Now I wear it all the time and it fills me with love and joy every time I put it on.”
How do you want someone to feel when they wear a piece of your jewellery?
“Emboldened, confident and happy.”
What has been the highest point of your career?
“Designing a beautiful engagement ring for a friend. It was a real privilege to be part of his decision-making process - there was so much love and effort put into that ring. And now I have the pleasure of knowing that she will enjoy wearing it every day.”
What does the future hold for Astratelli?
“It is a continuous journey of discovery. There is always more to learn and get excited by. I don’t want to become an established brand that everyone knows with an obligation to produce jewellery at scale. Instead I would prefer to be a designer who is known and loved by a those who truly appreciate my art.”
Astratelli's collections are available to shop on Jewelstreet here.