While I like to spotlight local designers whenever possible, I couldn’t resist “traveling” around the world to New Zealand’s Benjamin Black Goldsmiths, and sharing with you the amazing jewelry they produce!
I got a chance to ask the founder and head goldsmith/designer Benjamin Clark himself some questions. Here’s our brief interview, where Benjamin talks about his newfound love for rose gold (which I can totally agree with), where he finds inspiration for his designs, and what he loves (and wants you to know) about New Zealand.
Suburban Style Challenge: How long have you been working with metal, and how did you get into it?
Benjamin Clark: I started tinkering around in my father’s workshop when I was really little. He’s a watchmaker so I grew up with it. I started making my own jewellery around the age of seven and selling it at the local markets. Sounds crazy looking back!
SSC: What moved you towards jewelry design?
BC: I wasn’t the greatest academic performer at school. But I was good with my hands – technology, woodworking, metalwork, art and design; they were the things which appealed. Then I was offered a jewellery apprenticeship at the age of 16 which was a perfect fit.
SSC: What are your favorite metals to work with?
BC: I love working with all gold, but at the moment I’ve developed a weakness for rose gold. It’s such a beautiful, warm colour and is great for creating a stunning contrast with white stones (i.e. diamonds) and white metals (i.e. white gold, platinum, palladium).
SSC: Where do you find inspiration for your designs?
BC: I work a bit differently than other jewellers. I don’t tend to sketch out ideas. My inspiration comes from forming the metal. As I work the metal, shapes begin to form, and a design comes to fruition. I think this is a bit unusual!
SSC: It’s evident that you put a ton of work into your pieces. Approximately how long do you spend on each piece, from design concept to finished piece?
BC: It varies considerably. Some of the most simple designs can take the longest. Whereas seemingly complex designs can be quite quick to create.
SSC: What are some of your favorite jewelry trends right now?
BC: The popularity of rose gold. Midi rings. Big, statement pieces. Men’s accessories – like money clips, cuff links and tie pins are all on trend right now.
SSC: Of everything you’ve made, what has been your favorite to work on?
BC: I made a bald eagle pendant last year for a customer. It took a long time to create, but was an amazing process. You can see it here.
SSC: Besides jewelry design, what are your passions?
BC: Fashion. Music.
SSC: What’s one thing you love about New Zealand that you wish everyone could experience?
BC: We live in such a beautiful country, there’s so much to do, but my favourite thing is climbing mountains. I’m a bit of a mountain goat. Just a few weeks ago we took a day off and walked up a nearby mountain. You can’t buy experiences like that – it’s truly amazing and incredibly inspiring.
Here are some beautiful pieces by Benjamin.
The featured pieces are as follows: The Double Midi Ring (a favorite piece of mine, available for just $99), a custom Rose Gold & Threepence Ring (no price, but you can inquire about having a similar piece made), the simple statement-making Blue Topaz Necklace (available for $349), the classic Men’s Essential Signet Ring (available for $199), the Fingernail Ring in gold (I have this in silver and love it… and it’s priced right at $99 in silver and is available in gold as shown for $499), a beautiful yet simple pair of Hammered Disc Earrings (available for $199), the fashionable River Tie Pin (available for $249), a stunning hammered silver Statement Cuff (a little pricey, but too gorgeous not to share, at $899), and the Modern Money Clip (available for $349).
Benjamin Black Goldsmiths actually, I say, specializes in custom work. The fingernail ring was actually custom designed by a friend of mine, who worked remotely (she’s based here in IL) with Benjamin as he crafted it to her specifications. It was a pretty impressive piece to watch take shape as she described what she was looking for, and he sent pictures of his finished work. If you’re looking for something truly unique and interesting, Benjamin Clark of Benjamin Black Goldsmiths is your guy!
Note that all of the above prices are in New Zealand Dollars. Depending on the exchange rate at your time of purchase, you might get a better deal! Remember, each of these pieces are hand-crafted with real metal and gemstones (no plastic crap here) and often made to order, so a slightly higher price and longer shipping time is understandable, but totally worth it!