Marching to the beat of his own drum
Many jewelry designers get their start in the fashion industry. Some come from a retail background. Alex Soldier, however, has an especially intriguing first career: computer engineer. And it’s served him better than you might imagine. “Every time I design, I envision the technical aspects as well as the artistic composition,” he explains. “I also invented my own tools with which I apply the special decorative finishes.” The Russian-born, New York City–based designer compares his creations to a Rubik’s Cube, with “each piece dependent on the next to create the whole.” The intricate sculptures and textured metal jewels also happen to be total showstoppers.
Soldier’s black diamond lava ring
Number of years in the biz: 31
Number of employees you oversee: 19
Family and pets: My wife, partner, soul mate, muse, and extraordinary visionary Galochka (Galina), who inspires me every day. Infinitely talented, determined, gracious, and mostly peaceful warrior-daughter Mashanya (Maria). Queen of Himalayan-Siamese descent that displays her wrath every time things don’t go according to her will—you guessed it, a cat, named Nusya.
With daughter Maria and wife Galina
Describe your personal style: Timeless elegance mixed at times with hip informality.
First piece you ever designed: At age 14, I took apart my mom’s costume jewelry and set it into my wooden creation. My mom was very proud of it until she noticed that the shape and the color of the center stone looked too familiar. She got over it eventually.
The single piece of jewelry you’re most proud of: I’m proud of all my work. Jewelry is everything to me—it’s the air that I breathe, it’s the perfect moment suspended in eternity.
Best piece of advice you ever received: Always move forward; never stop creating.
Worst piece of advice: I was often told at the early stage of my career that my designs were too sophisticated and that in order to succeed in this business I had to assimilate and become like everyone else. I remember my avant-garde collection debut at the Jewelers of America Show in New York, where buyers looked at me as if I had two heads when I was showing my collection with all the versatile metal finishes.
First job ever: Computer engineer.
How did you get started designing jewelry? I was a computer engineer, fascinated with artificial intelligence, since it was a fairly new and mysterious world, like space and cosmos. I dreamed of building my own robot, but it all changed when I met my wife. She saw my drawings and attention to detail and inspired me to try my talents at jewelry. I didn’t know anything about jewelry. So I went to the jewelry plant and asked for whatever position they had available. They assigned me that of an electrician, and in less than a year I became its chief designer.
If you weren’t designing jewelry, what would you be doing? I can’t imagine my life without art, without designing and creating.
Pink Floyd’s Dark Side of the Moon
On your desk right now: New website sketches.
On your playlist: Pink Floyd.
Exercise regimen: Pingpong on weekends and Russian baths on Mondays.
What did you have for breakfast? Inspiration.
Guilty pleasure: Yellow press, followed by strong urge to escape to a deserted island.
Drink (daytime/evening): Apple martini.
First website you check every day (not your own!): Amazon.
Scent: New York City in all of its richness, except for the garbage trucks.
How do you unwind? Get together with friends and have a few laughs.
Superstitious? Only during happy hour.
Book you’re reading: Dance Dance Dance by Haruki Murakami.
Book you’ve been meaning to get to: The Bible.
Preferred news source: My neighbors.
Main means of transportation: Imagination.
Favorite movie: Andrei Tarkovsky’s Stalker.
Who would play you in your life story? Sean Penn.
Personal motto: “Through thorns to stars.”