At the very heart of New York, in Times Square itself, is a jeweller with a story to tell. From leaving the Ural Mountains in Russia in 1991 to Gwyneth Paltrow wearing Alex Soldiers’ jewels in the 2020 Netflix hit The Politicians, this is a story of natural talent flourishing and prospering against the odds. Alex Soldier’s journey is a real-life tale of the immigrant with big dreams making it big in the Big Apple.
Born in Russia under Soviet rule, as a child Alex made sculptures adorned with his mother’s costume jewellery. His artistic ways were set to be nothing more than a hobby when he trained to be a computer engineer. But that was to change when he met his wife who encouraged him to explore his innate artistic nature and she suggested that he become a jeweller. Apart from his childhood forays into sculpture, Alex knew nothing about jewellery when he started as an intern at the largest local jewellery company and within a year became the chief designer. Ten years later, the family decided to move to the USA without speaking the language or knowing anyone where they bravely started anew from scratch.
A key breakthrough moment for the company was in 2006 when I cold-called Eric Ford the jewellery buyer of Neimann Marcus. He agreed to take a look and marked a turning point in the company’s fate. Today the award-winning jeweller has a staff of ten who produce in the company’s workshops all the jewels.
The design style is opulent, highly detailed with a romantic or whimsical touch. Most of the jewels he creates are one-offs or produced in limited numbers as Alex likes to constantly set new challenges for himself.
As for techniques, the emphasis is on the metal finishes and techniques that were developed by Alex. Starting with making his own tools, through a microscope the metal is delicately hammered to create an array of finishes that create a variety of sparkling and shimmering effects. The large canvas of the cuff bracelet is ideal to fully appreciate the impact Alex Soldier’s metalwork. Sophisticated structures of precious metal that are perforated or woven allow the designer to create high-impact pieces with an incredible lightness.
Snails and sunflower rings are another two of the house favourites. There are dozens of variations on the snail, each with its own name depending on the gems set into its shell. The snail is dear to Alex Soldier who sees it as a cue to remind us to take life slowly, be in the moment and appreciate all that is around us. The sunflower is inspired by Vincent Van Gogh’s famous paintings and a miniature work of art. Alex Soldier favours unusual stones such as chrome diopside, rhodolite garnets, carnelian and peridot of the more traditional gemstones.