Having always been drawn to sculpture and small-scale art forms, I create pieces to express how I view the world—inspired to capture the transient essence of nature, down to the finest details, in the form of wearable sculptures. A permanent representation of our temporal and fragile natural world, hand-carved in stone and complemented with precious metals and gems through an ancient form of craftsmanship that I continually refine.
I am a South Australian Gemstone Carver and Jeweller who hand-carves natural gemstones and then creates intimately scaled jewellery pieces to complement the carvings.
I challenge the limits of how far each gem can be carved and enjoy experimenting with different depths, to enhance translucency and colour, whilst working with inclusions to find the perfect dynamic forms, highlighting the intrinsic beauty of each piece.
My name is Susannah Gai, I was born in Newcastle, NSW, in 1974. I work primarily in carved gemstones and precious metals and currently work from both Zu Design and my home studio in Adelaide.
My father was a stonemason, a traditional family trade passed down through generations from Wales. I grew up watching him hand-carve sandstone in our backyard. I eventually pestered him so much that he gave me my own small hammer and chisel so I could carve limestone next to him whilst he worked.
It was here that I realised that I had a natural affinity with carving. We both attended a night course on opal cutting, and instantly I knew that working in gemstones was my calling.
I secured a jewellery apprenticeship at 17 and spent the next 3 decades refining my work, picking up multiple awards. While rewarding, my true focus was to combine both the gem carving and jewellery skills to work on my own designs.
I made the move to work from Zu Design in August 2022 and made several pieces for my first group exhibition for Christmas that year. I’ve since been invited to exhibit as part of ‘Considered’, a curated show of 23 selected makers for SALA 2023 at Zu Design, and ‘Light and Dark’ a group exhibition for Artisan in Bunbury, Western Australia.
Having the freedom to expand on my creative designs with an endless variety of gemstones and materials has evolved my hand-carving and making techniques. I want to continue to push further to explore the limits of each piece through the ancient hand skills of gem carving and making.