Who is Billy Clare? Where are you from and how did you become a jewellery maker and an artist? My name is Billy Clare Reitzenstein. I live on a bush property on the South Coast of NSW,Australia. I began creating jewellery when I realised so much of my inspiration was being drawn from ancient artefacts and jewellery designs. I have always been obsessed with the ancient and always entertained the idea of becoming an archaeologist. I am self-taught,with an education in graphic design, film and visual art instead.

What is ARCA jewellery? Where does the brand’s name come from?
It look me a long time to come up with ARCA as I wanted a name that gave me a feeling of what I was trying to create but not something too literal. Arca means Ark, vessel, box or chest.  “a chest or strong box used in ancient times as a receptacle for money or valuables –“I also love animals and although I’m not big on organised religion I do like the idea ofan Ark to keep the animals safe!
I also have a major soft spot for Indiana Jones…

When did you get the idea to start a brand?
About two years ago, I moved back home.
I could no longer work in film and finding a creative job was really hard. I didn’t really know what to do with myself. After working at a resort for a while and doing a bit of freelancing I decided I needed a business to really throw myself into where I could be my own boss and explore my creativity. 
You like to combine the ancient with the modern. Which cultures do you take inspiration from? I really love jewellery from ancient Germanic cultures, the Etruscan civilisation, ancient Greeks, Romans and the ancient Egyptians.

Are there any challenges to staying ethical while using other culture’s as inspiration? I’m influenced by my ancient roots, which we all have. Most people with a European background are so mixed. I am inspired but never steal and I’m interested in my own Germanic and Anglo-Saxon/Viking/Celtic roots.
There are so many similarities across cultures. We are all one human family and we have all been nature worshippers at some point. Ancient jewellery also uses a lot of gold. A large amount of gold is now mined in third world countries and can be very polluting to the environment. When I do use gold, I try to source it directly from Australia.

Can you describe your design process?
Usually it starts in my imagination with a feeling of what I want to create. I try to flesh it out as much as possible in my head, then I move on to multiple pen drawings and non-functional prototypes which I will later melt down and recycle in castings. I find I need to experiment a lot before I’m happy with something. I’m always learning and trying new techniques. 
Why do you want to create ethically and environmentally responsible products?
I think it’s important in this age of cheap and disposable products. I try to use as much recycled silver and gold as possible. The stones I use are either found by someone I know, are Australian or come from vintage jewellery.
There is no official ‘Fair Trade’ authentication for gemstones, that’s why it’s best to source your stones from countries such as Australia. I love that people care more and more about where their products are being made and in
what conditions. Be the change you want to see.

Is it something you identify with on a personal level as well?
I was brought up to respect and protect the environment and that has always been a big part of my life. Going on a plant based diet five years ago opened my eyes even more to humanity’s impact on the earth and I’d like to have as little impact as possible. It can be hard and nobody is perfect but we must always look forward.

Was there a defining moment in your life when you decided to create sustainable jewellery? I guess that moment was when I decided to create my business. I knew from the get go that if I was going to do this, I had to do it in a way that made me feel like I was making a difference. 
Was it hard to find responsible resources or is it something that is becoming more and more common these days?
Actually – yes it’s been a difficult road to creating a sustainable brand.
Here in Australia we have some good metals suppliers who use recycled materials, which is great. But sometimes it’s impossible to know the origins of something.
I do feel that change is coming though. The higher the demand for ethical products, themore there will be. I’m an advocate for voting with your wallet.

How does design and sustainability work together? Do you have to alter your designs or techniques in order to make an ethical product?
I have spent many wasted hours searching for specific gemstones from ethical sources on the internet to no avail. One or two stones is generally not too hard but to find a whole lot so I can duplicate my designs is near impossible! It limits my designing. But in a way, it forces me to be more creative, which is cool. I like a challenge. I have a lot of gemstones just waiting in boxes for the right design to come along.

What does your studio look like?
I love my studio. It’s attached to my house, which was built by my parents and was my mum’s pottery and art studio growing up. Our whole property is run on solar power which is great. If I look up from my bench I see the surrounding forest and distant mountains beyond the river. Our resident wallaby Rocco will sometimes be sniffing around too. We live on 104 acres surrounded by the state forest so it’s very quiet and tranquil and after living in Sydney for years it’s a welcome break from the sound of traffic!

How many people work for the brand, is it just you or are there any others?
Just me. My partner and family help with things sometimes. I’d like to grow the business in the future though because it’s very difficult doing everything myself!

Is ARCA your full time job or do you do something else as well?
Yes, right now it’s full time. I also work freelance as a designer/illustrator here and there. It’s nice to mix it up from time to time. I love to paint and draw and that was my focus for so long. I don’t get much time for that now though!
Author : Tereza Gladisova

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