Q&A with Kindred Collection designer Ruth Benjamin-Thomas

Has this been a design idea for a while or did it come once you received the Opals?

 I had been looking for such a parcel for years and I found these Andamooka crystals in, of all places, a retired dealer’s safe in New York. Calibrated material as bright and as well cut as this doesn’t come around very often. I had played around with a few designs that were similar but not quite resolved for a while.

What was your process for designing the Kindred Collection?

Unlike many other gems, opal really tells you how it wants to be. I knew the final setting was going to be organic rather than classical but it took time for the inspiration to really start moving and the final shapes to make themselves known.

What was your inspiration for this collection?

Our mentor passed away suddenly a few years ago and it really brought home the importance of family and nurturing relationships across the world. With COVID this was brought into sharp relief. We had an opportunity to travel to the Northern Territory in April with close friends. Surrounded by the wild beauty of the Australian outback, traversing the sky across the ancient and sacred lands of the Larrakia and Wuningangk people, the themes of the land and the connections we have to it and family really informed my direction.

What is it about the Australian Outback that gives you so much inspiration?

Southern Africa is my ancestral home and I feel a definite pull towards the wild and untamed beauty of the outback.

What is something people may not know when it comes to designing Opal Jewelry?

Black Opal is unique in that you have to consider the play of color in the way the stone is orientated in the setting. This means that often the design is dictated by the opal and comes second.

You are very passionate about Opal and Gem education and sit on certain committees that help deliver important information to the world — can you tell us a little more about these associations?

The particular project that I am working on at the moment is assisting to rewrite opal classification terms. As part of a number of industry associations here in Australia, we have submitted a new draft classification to SIBJO the world jewellery confederation.

Lastly, can you tell us something about yourself that people may not know?

That I still take regular Ballet classes.

You can see a little more of the Kindred Collection here.

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