Hodaya Yarden Jew.ellery

  • Tauira / Student
    Hodaya Yarden
  • Kaiako / Lecturers
    Carl Douglas, Yana Dombrowsky-M'Baye
Judge's comments:

Masterfully weaving together the rich historical and cultural threads of the Jewish community with contemporary craftsmanship, creating a multi-faceted space where artistry, spirituality, and identity converge in an elegantly harmonious environment.


Jew.ellery is a contemporary Judaica studio meticulously crafted to accommodate five multidisciplinary artists dedicated to creating jewellery and ceremonial utensils inspired by Jewish culture. Situated at 31 Cross Street, Tāmaki Makaurau, this three-story studio finds itself nestled between the Jewish cemetery on Symonds Street and Karangahape Road.

The Jewish community in Aotearoa has roots dating back to the 19th century when Jewish families began establishing their presence in colonial Auckland, known today as the CBD. Delving into the history of the Jewish diaspora in Aotearoa prompted me to ponder the profound connection between Judaism, this specific site, and the art of jewellery-making.

In Judaism, there exists a significant association between death and holiness. The studio's close proximity to the Jewish graveyard evoked a profound sense of familiarity as I recognized names and observed stones adorning the graves, reminding me of my own heritage both here and in Israel. This led me on a journey to explore the history of Judaism and its intriguing relationship with jewellery. During my research, I stumbled upon ancient wall carvings, drawings, stone amulets, and ancient Judaica. I found the ideography and symbolism present in the ancient Jewish artifacts from Babylon's golden age (4th-7th centuries B.C.E) fascinating, therefore prompting the concept behind creating a jewellery studio that embodies the history of the Jewish people through the notions of spirituality, death, identity, and nomadism.

The elevator, visible from any point in the building, is encased in a brass cage that symbolizes the rich tapestry of time. The retail and exhibition space within the studio blends permanent and non-permanent elements and materials to embody my concept. Two opposing murals—one etched into the wall, the other drawn upon it—stand at the heart of this space. In between them lies a long, slender stone reminiscent of the Shabbat table, where various Judaica items are used. Locally sourced stone furniture juxtaposes against lightweight materials, creating a captivating contrast. Long, sheer curtains provide the option to create a temporary divide between the retail and commission space looking out to the treetops of the courtyard below.

The Machine room, a cosy enclave, serves as a dedicated space for two jewellers working with heavy machinery to craft chalices and candelabras. Nestled beneath the retail space, the walls surrounding it are designed for noise cancellation. Every nook and cranny in this space is thoughtfully utilized for smart storage. The courtyard at the back allows for fresh air and natural light, while customizable features cater to the specific needs of the jewellers within.

Ascending above the retail space, the Workshop provides a dedicated area for three additional jewellers. Divided by glass walls and double doors, the workshop comprises three distinct areas. The jeweller’s workspace, where intricate details come to life, overlooks Cross Street to the north. The meeting room is bathed in natural light pouring in from the skylight above, and finally, the coffee corner and conversation nook face each other, creating a welcoming and interactive space for exchange.