Local artist and metalsmith John Miller has been crafting gold and silver jewellery by hand using traditional techniques for 50 years. He has amassed a large and loyal following for his distinctive designs and has had a colourful career.

Intricately carved and stamped scenes on cuffs, pendants, earrings, and rings celebrate wildlife, nature, and landscapes that tell stories from John’s colourful life. He built his Yallingup home and workshop 25 years ago, and today John Miller Design employs 17 staff across its Yallingup and Margaret River workshops and showrooms.

John teaches his jewellers traditional techniques no longer provided at educational institutions and as far as he knows, he’s the only Australian jeweller to handmake jewellery from start to finish in one location – design, forging, tool making, hammering, casting, stamping, engraving, and finishing. A special 50th anniversary hallmark is stamped on his jewellery produced in 2023 to mark the occasion and a 50th anniversary limited edition collection is also in the making.

We had the pleasure of speaking to him about his creativity and inspiration, local galleries and the arts, and favourite times of the year.

John Miller
Creating jewellery from start to finish in one location. Photo: Russell Ord

Where's your favourite beach?

I’m not really a ‘favourites’ person – I love every beach here, from Busselton to Flinders Bay, each for different reasons, from sweeping arcs of glittering sand to iconic microcosms of fascinating beauty. Tiny beaches thrill me just as much as the big ones. Each has its own special place in my heart. I’m currently working on a ‘local beaches’ bracelet project, one beach each – most have something distinctive – rocks, reef, trees or bush etc.


Where do you always take your visitors?

Yallingup Beach has plenty of history and folklore, a sheltered swim-safe lagoon, iconic surf breaks, soft white sand – and showers, so for visitors old and young, it’s always a winner.


Top three local food experiences?

There’s lots of very good local food. I always tell visitors this is the ‘lunch capital of the world’. From Leeuwin Estate and Voyager to Dunsborough’s Burgertron there’s really no end of places for a great feed.

John Miller
Local bush walks are a must when visiting, especially during wildflower season. Photo: Russell Ord

Best fun to be had in the region without spending a cent?

Visiting the local art galleries can be really enjoyable, especially on a rainy day, or when the beaches are busy. There’s so much creativity and variety in our art – for which the south west is now well known and celebrated through events such as Margaret River Region Open Studios in September. Local bush walks are a must during wildflower season.


Favourite time of the year?

In winter, Canal Rocks can be dramatic and of course Boranup Karri Forest is breathtaking if you’re up for a drive. I love stormy winter days, but the long ‘Indian Summer’ from April to June has so many exquisite warm days, golden sunsets and misty morning fogs.


Best place to watch the sunset?

I think a sunset over Canal Rocks is a must, but any western beach will always be transcendental.

John Miller
Inspiration can come from anywhere, including from his creative staff and people around him. Photo: Russell Ord

Where do you go to get inspired?

It’s pretty good where I live, with a garden full of blue wrens, magpies, black cockatoos, lizards and frogs. I find inspiration everywhere I go, and from my staff and the many diverse people I meet daily.


Favourite native flora or fauna to include in your designs?

My work covers most of the local fauna, but with 10,000 different types of flora Cape to Cape, I still have lots to do. People get upset if I don’t have their favourite, so I do my best. Marron are tricky and tiny possums are a challenge.

John Miller
Bring home a slice of your favourite place in form of a local arts piece. Photo: Russell Ord

You can't leave the Margaret River Region without...

Assuming people have had a good look around, I’d say don’t miss the galleries featuring work by our local arts community. From furniture and sculpture to jewellery, painting and photography, there are some great mementos of a perfect holiday. If you really like a particular local beach or forest, you can take it home by wearing it, or hanging it on the wall!

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