ADC’s First Nations Creative Producer Dakota Dixon recently travelled to Ngunnawal Country, to meet First Nations makers and see exhibitions in Canberra. While she was there, Dakota met with First Nations jeweller Thomas Coen.

Read about Dakota's experience:

Thomas Coen is a fine jeweller and proud Jawoyon and Kala Lagaw Ya man, who grew up in a small community outside of Darwin. As a teenager, Thomas was introduced to the craft of jewellery making by his footy coach! After only a few days of work experience he was offered the opportunity to learn the trade. He completed his studies in South Australia before finally settling down in Canberra with his fiancé.

Now, with over fifteen years of experience in the industry, he spends the majority of his time custom making pieces for clients. To handcraft fine jewellery pieces, he works with different metals such as gold, silver, diamonds, opals and other minerals.

As Thomas and I had a yarn, we spoke about the struggles of being a Blak person in a predominantly European practice, and the fact that there are not that many Indigenous people in the high-end of the jewellery making trade, which then got us onto the topic of why it’s important for more Indigenous people to get into the fine jewellery making space.

By incorporating his culture and stories into the pieces he creates, he can tell both traditional and modern-day stories of Australia using Australian minerals.

One of Thomas’ most recent designs named ‘Flag Ring”, a nine karat gold ring in the shape of the Aboriginal flag, one of his best-selling pieces, and for a good reason, apart from its stylish design Thomas created this ring to start conversation, hoping it would appeal to non-Indigenous people to start conversations in different social circles.

To see more of Thomas’ work head to the website or view more on Instagram @thomascoenjewellery

Dakota Dixon is First Nations Creative Producer at Australian Design Centre. Dakota recently produced the exhibition Indigenous Jewellery Project in Object Space Window Gallery and will be working on more First Nations focussed projects coming soon.

Photo: Thomas Coen, Tidal Waves. Photo: courtesy of the artist.

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