This Melbourne-Based Designer Is Reviving Historical Maximalism

Cleopatra's Bling
When we think of maximalist jewellery, we think of the ‘90s style revival, the rise of kitschy, nostalgia-fuelled jewellery made of bric-a-brac. But, as so often goes with trends, the excess can sometimes feel a little...lacking. Though we may not completely leave behind our nostalgic accessorising, there is a space for those who want a little more from their accoutrements. 
While there will always be a place for refined, minimalist jewellery, more and more we’re seeing the rise of luxurious pieces, almost costume-like in opulence and soul, but with a contemporary sensibility that stands powerfully alone without detracting from one’s personal style — think larger-than-life jewels and pendants hanging effortlessly against sheer fabrics, harlequin prints and brazen cut-outs at Gucci’s latest runway show.
One of the local creatives paving the way for maximalist jewellery with heart is Melbourne-based designer Olivia Cummings of Cleopatra’s Bling. Boasting handcrafted pieces steeped in emotional and historical reverence with a deep respect for ancient jewellery-making traditions, the brand is quickly becoming a household name — and has even racked up some celebrity fans in Amal Clooney, Ocean Vuong and Florence Welch. 
After over a decade spent overseas immersing herself in the design heritage of jewellery, Cummings fell in love with the way that craftsmanship could connect people generations and worlds apart.
“My relationship with accessorising evolved as I got deeper into the historical symbolism that you can explore when in my line of work,” she tells Refinery29 Australia. “The amount of information you can read about ancient civilisations and their relationship with all kinds of adornment is truly mind-blowing and has expanded my idea of adornment throughout the ages.”
Dreaming up her own vision of how she could tell these stories, the designer blended her learnings with her own sense of otherworldly maximalism and thus, Cleopatra’s Bling was born. 
One scroll of the brand’s offerings feels like dipping into a treasure trove. Rich golds, pearls, gems and rare stones come together with resin cupids, chillies and asymmetry in a playful amalgam. The result is a modern maximalist’s delight. “I hope that people feel a sense of community and collective memory when wearing my designs,” she says. “Storytelling is a way of bridging gaps.”
Bold jewellery is nothing new, sure, but with hyper-fast fashion and micro trends being delivered to us on a neverending conveyer belt, we’re taking a step back to discover and invest in pieces that bring a little soul to our wardrobes.
Shop our favourite pieces from the latest collection below.
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