Since time immemorial, jewels and jewellery have played a central role in tales of foreign hijinks and far-fetched adventure: think the Hope Diamond, or the Black Orlov. As international travel returns to pre-pandemic levels this year, we’re reminded of just how truly profound it can be to journey to new and exotic places. What better way to memorialise these experiences than with a piece of apropos jewellery?
For Sydney jeweller Albert Tse, his time spent in faraway lands has been such that it’s formed the cornerstone of his jewellery practice. But rather than fabled gemstones or ornate regalia, it was the weathered, centuries-old façades of ancient monuments that grabbed him.
"I don’t look at the jewellery when I travel," says Albert. "A lot of my inspiration comes from living in Italy, and having spent time in Egypt, Syria and Jordan. The textures of the ancient ruins…are translated into my work."
A past life in international business and freight together with his Vietnamese-Chinese heritage means that Albert had a head start when it comes to his worldly outlook. Whilst most Australian jewellers study and train at local institutions, it was at Florentine jewellery school Alchimia where Albert honed his craft. "I initially did a short course at Gaffa and spoke to a friend who worked there, who told me about Alchimia. I did some research and like the idea, so I e-mailed Alchimia and they found a place for me – and six weeks later I moved to Italy."

Albert's time in Florence introduced him to his now signature technique: sandcasting. The neolithic, textured quality of most of his work means that wax prototypes or CAD modelling never accurately represents the final product, whereas the immediacy enabled by Albert’s particular method of sandcasting, which he learnt by chance from a senior student, was liberating. "It’s instantaneous – you don’t have to send it off to a caster and wait a couple of days to get it back to see what it looks like."
Following his stint at Alchimia, Albert embarked on a design journey to address the under-served men’s jewellery market, at the same time exploring different placemaking methods and motifs in his work. One such body of work is the award-winning Memento collection that combines topographic and geographic maps of cities and countries, as a means of staying close to a place wherever one goes.

A topographic map of India from the Memento collection. Source: Albert Tse
Albert Tse Sydney jeweller metalsmithThese days, Albert designs for all genders and even notes that his male clientele have increasingly embraced gem-encrusted jewellery. When it comes to gemstones, it’s clear that Albert places a great deal of thought into his choices: on top of our parti sapphires, the coloured stones in many of his rings are sourced from the Responsible Jewellery Council, who heat-treat recycled melee diamonds to achieve the rainbow-like array of colours. On the topic of natural versus man-made stones, whilst the verdict is out, Albert acknowledges that natural gemstones support entire communities – and in some cases, countries – in the developing world.

As for what’s next, Albert continues to draw from the past with his new collection, 'Fusion' - but this time it’s about duality. "I’ve worked out how to pour two metals at the same time, and when they collide they fuse and swirl. It speaks to my cultural heritage and the balancing act of growing up in Australia. It’s also about other things like work-life balance, and the external and internal worlds of an individual."
Albert hopes the Fusion collection will resonate with his audience whist giving us new food for thought. If his previous work is anything to go by, we’re sure it’ll be more than plenty to achieve both.
Whether you’re reading this from Sydney or abroad, you can now shop Albert’s collection in our online store.
If you’d like to commission a piece by Albert, leave us your details and and we’ll contact you to make an appointment.
Words: Kim Low
Images: Kim Low & Albert Tse