Alex Soldier: Jewelry Master
by Andrew C. Stone
It takes a master of his craft to blaze a trail as Alex Soldier has. A veritable wizard with precious metals and stones, Manhattan-based Soldier is a self-taught craftsman from the Ural Mountains, at the border between Europe and Asia, and has become one of the most sought-after innovators in his field. He operates outside the confi nes of passing jewelry trends, breathing life into exquisite miniatures and manipulating metals and stones in original ways. In no uncertain terms, he has carved his own niche in the high-end jewelry world.
Within the Ural Mountains, renowned for their wealth of natural resources such as gold and adamants, a grand tradition of working with precious materials exists. Soldier displayed aptitude for sculpture and woodworking from an early age, and his journey with jewels began at 14, when he used stones from his mother’s costume jewelry collection to adorn a small wooden statue. “I never took any jewelry-making classes in my life,” he says. “I believe that we all have our own paths to walk, and we’re all given different talents to make that walk more memorable. That being said, I think that patience is an imperative part of any creative process.”
If anyone should understand patience, it’s Soldier. Take one look at his meticulous miniatures or painstakingly detailed haute couture jewelry pieces, and you’ll see evidence of incredible focus. Though Soldier earned a master’s degree in computer engineering, he fully embraced his art in 1981, and has been expanding his repertoire—in terms of technique, style and materials—ever since. And make no mistake: What he does is more than a craft—it’s true art. “In jewelry, it has a lot to do with detail and intricate mastery that gives each piece its originality, having this one-of-a-kind quality, rather than a [mass-produced] or generic feeling,” he says. “Art is like love— you either feel it or you don’t. When something has timeless appeal, it evokes a deep emotional response.”
It’s no wonder he counts the most stylish, trend-averse tastemakers and organizations as clients, or that the jewelry trade has long praised him as a leader in the field. He crafted the radiant statuettes for the Princess Grace Awards, as well as the coveted “Triumph” award, bestowed annually to pioneering Russian artists, writers and musicians. In Soldier’s opinion, the cornerstone of his work and appeal comes down to three things: quality, content and character. “Craftsmanship is not measured by the amount of gold and diamonds,” he insists, “but by a design value that is priceless, withstands the ultimate test of time and is appreciated by generations yet to come.”
PHOTOGRAPH BY DAVID LAND
We go behind the scenes with the sexy British actor on his Gotham cover shoot.