Bright, bold and whimsical with a flair of sophistication – that best describes Sonia Boyajian’s designs. The Los Angeles-based jeweller is a free-spirited artist. The possibilities of volume and scale are underlined by the fact that she is equally at ease moulding both sculptural and smaller ceramic pieces as making wearable jewellery. Her collections are “animated by a central theme that allows her to develop a new language of colour and material”, she explains. History and culture excite her endlessly as she journeys in her artistic path.
You were raised in Los Angeles, moved to Antwerp (Belgium) and back to your home city. How has a multicultural influence shaped you?
I studied at the ​Otis College of Art and Design in LA, and later, at The Royal Academy of Fine Arts in Antwerp. Every culture has a different work ethic. Learning the way people solve problems and work with their hands is a very personal experience. Working with different cultures has definitely inspired me to create with empathy and an open mind.
From the endless creativity to the people’s vibe, the city has many great things. But what do you like the most about LA?
I am from LA, so after I started selling my jewellery in various boutiques worldwide, I decided to come home and start my own business. I love the city for its sunshine, proximity to Griffith Park and the beach, for the organic delicious produce and, most of all, because my family lives here.
How did you hone your skills in ceramics? And how did you segue from ceramics to jewellery?
Just keep doing it, making mistakes – and making again, over and over. ​I don’t see them as different things. I see all material as something that can be part of jewellery, and jewellery is certainly a form of wearable art. I started using ceramics because I wanted to be able to create large-scale pieces without the added weight of metal.
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What sparked your decision to become a jeweller?
It was organic. In fact, what I really wanted to do was work in fashion and design clothing. I moved to Antwerp because of my obsession at the time with the Antwerp Six (the group of fashion designers who graduated from Antwerp’s Royal Academy of Fine Arts between 1980-81) and hoped to be an intern with one of them. But then, I happened to stumble across a beautiful jewellery atelier and ended up working with Pascale Masselis for two years.
Your designs are intrinsically maximalist, statement pieces. It takes a certain kind of woman – bold, daring – with a great personality to be able to carry them off. Who do you have in mind when creating such big pieces?
Either it’s the woman herself that I am making the pieces for, or I am thinking about a certain woman I am reading about when I create the collections.
What made you open a brick-and-mortar store at a time when the jewellery industry is turning to e-tail?
I have always had a space where it was combined jewellery shop and studio. It was just a lot smaller. I needed a larger studio to be able to combine the jewellery workshop and the ceramic workshop together. I think it is very important for people who buy my jewellery to know how it’s made and where it comes from. Having a brick-and-mortar shop allows my customer to experience the jewellery and the world that I have created for it. It inspires them to be more creative, and I think that connection to people is very important with my jewellery.
How have you envisioned your workspace to reflect your creativity and personality?
It’s all natural. The workspace creates itself when you put your materials in it. It’s all full of elements that I have made, so naturally, everything sort of has a ‘Sonia’ signature to it.
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Are all your statement jewellery pieces handcrafted at your new workspace?
I pretty much make everything in house. I am a designer as well as the craftswoman. 
You have combined your ceramic studio and jewellery space within one realm. How does it feel having a new space with everything under one roof?
Simplified, organised and more cohesive.
How do you unite inspirations and influences from art, sculpture, culture and travel into your creations?
I suppose the best way to unite all those ideas is through the cultural techniques and skills I have honed throughout the years and to use it to create a piece that captures all those elements of art, sculpture and travel.
“I see all material as something that can be part of jewellery, and jewellery is certainly a form of wearable art.”
Your pieces have a surrealist slant – which artists have provided the spark for your inspiring designs?
Calder, Miró, Sonia Delaunay, Robert Rauschenberg, Cocteau – all these artists have influenced my work.
What underpins your love of textures and fluid structures as seen in your jewellery?
I like to find a balance between weight and different materials to make them work together in one composition. I always feel mixed texture is more soothing to the eye.
How are craftsmanship and ceramics central to your process of creation?
Craftsmanship is everything in my jewellery. Having an idea is easy, but how to execute the ideas and bring them to life require a great amount of technical thought and craftsmanship​.
What kind of materials and stones do you like to work with in jewellery? Any favourites?
We use all kinds of materials. The ceramic tiles are all made in-house and glazed with gold to give them the jewellery feel. I hand-cut all of our oversized CZ gems (cubic zirconia) and we use all metals from gold to bronze and silver. I can’t say I have a favourite material; all materials can be interesting and inspiring to work with.
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What does a typical workday look like?
Every day is different, but it’s a mix up of spending mornings replying to emails and preparing what has to be made for the day, clients come in and out of the shop. I usually try to spend a few hours a day making the pieces, particularly the first samples.
Have you designed any piece for anyone famous – and if so, how did that impact sales following the celebrity exposure?
Yes, I have designed jewellery for famous people; however, ​​celebrity exposure has no impact on sales for me at all. People are drawn to my work when they see it on someone else and love it. That’s how I get sales.
You were commissioned by Saturday Night Live (SNL) star Colin Jost to create a custom piece for girlfriend, Scarlett Johansson, to wear at the Avengers: Endgame world premiere in LA. Tell me how that came about and your vision for the jewel?
Colin and Scarlett are dear friends of mine and Colin wanted to surprise Scarlett for the Avengers premiere with a Thanos glove. It was a very fun idea and challenging to think in terms of Scarlett wearing it. I mostly focused on the lines of the glove and the colours of the gemstones. I wanted to make sure that she was comfortable and felt glamorous all the while trying to keep that Thanos inspiration strong. ​The entire piece was made in 18k gold. I chose those stones – aquamarine, pink and green tourmalines, amethyst, citrine and Mexican fire opal – mostly because those were the colours of the Gauntlet bracelet.
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