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Entirely handmade

Everything offered at Empire de Talaru is handmade by the designer, Melanie Dooley. Melanie explains how a piece of jewellery is created.


“It starts with the focal piece – that striking, stunning and unique element that inspires not just a design – it takes on a life of its own and a story starts to form. I like to refer to it as whispers from the past that get louder and louder until I have a new, standalone piece that often contains elements original to two or more centuries. I focus on colour and texture to create harmony, but to also highlight the unique beauty of each element I put into a design.”

Home studio

Melanie has a dedicated room in her home where she creates all of her designs. Surrounded by shelves and drawers of beads, chains, antique treasures and tools, Melanie works on her creations at night and on weekends.


“Even though I have a full time job in management, I find it very relaxing to come home, sit down at my desk and work on a design. The concentration that is required to work these intricate elements is quite soothing and helps me to ‘shut out’ the world and escape into a place that I am creating. The hours just seem to disappear when I sit at my work bench.”

No happy mistakes here

Each of Melanie’s designs is laid out and worked on until the composition is ‘just right. A design could happen in a few days or a week, although sometimes it can take months for the right elements to become available before Melanie will start to construct her pieces.


“I don’t rely on happy mistakes when I make my jewellery or create designs. I can ponder over a layout of an element for quite a long time before I feel the time is right to start putting things together and create the finished item. The ‘alchemy’ part of the process is when I feel satisfied that the design is right and I should permanently marry the elements together. “

Digital collage

Aside from jewellery making, Melanie enjoys digital collage. With a large collection of original images, old prints, engravings and photographs Melanie uses Photoshop to carefully compose multi-layered artworks that can be offered as framed artworks or fabric designs.


“I love old prints, particularly those from the late 18th to early 19th centuries. I have a collection of French fashion prints that I consider to be quite precious, especially the pre-Revolution ones. I’m intrigued by the massive social change that took place at this time, and the beautiful, refined decorative arts styles that emerged in post-Revolution France. Neoclassicism is my favourite style of art and design.”

Inspiration is everywhere

“For me, creativity is choosing to see the everyday in a different way. It’s how you frame something in your mind, and how you look at things from a different angle. What I love about my design work is that I can take things that are not usually intended to go together, and with careful composition and a good dose of imagination, create something entirely new…but something which retains its heritage and provenance.”

Some of my favourite quotes about creativity come from French film director Robert Bresson. Here are two that I think shed light on how I go about my work.


An old thing becomes new if you detach it from what usually surrounds it.


Make visible what, without you, might perhaps never have been seen.