Precious Paua Pearls

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Paua or blue pearls are, in my humble opinion, one of New Zealand’s most prized possessions.

Everyone knows about pounamu or greenstone, however paua pearls are another ‘gem’ found only in Aotearoa, which are lesser known internationally.

They come from the paua, or abalone Haliotis iris and are available in a variety of hues, shapes and sizes.

But what I love about them the most, is the way they seem to encapsulate everything about New Zealand.

With hues of blue, green, violet and pink, they are elegant yet strikingly beautiful.

Here is a ring I have just hand crafted – made with 18ct white gold and set with a paua pearl.

Paua Pearl Ring by Benjamin Black Goldsmiths

Paua Pearl Ring by Benjamin Black Goldsmiths

 

Custom Made Urn Stand

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There is always emotion attached to any art – and jewellery is no exception.

When people commission a piece, we go on a journey of sorts. A relationship forms as I’m invited into their world – and as the design takes form this develops. It’s a pretty special thing.

But occasionally I get asked to create something extra special, something which stays with you forever – like this sterling silver urn stand.

It was such a privilege to make this piece. It was a profoundly intense, emotional yet beautiful process.

Our lovely customers requested it to hold the urn which would contain ashes of their daughter.

It was months in the making. The time and love it took to make was so worth it.

Our heartfelt thanks to our customers for the opportunity.

Custom Urn Stand by Benjamin Black Goldsmiths IMG_6842 3 Custom Urn Stand by Benjamin Black Goldsmiths

 

Letter from a Customer

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It’s not often you receive an actual letter these days (one which isn’t a bill anyway).

So when Amy and I were given this letter, by our dear customer Rita, we were absolutely blown away -

a) by her beautiful comments, and;

b) because she went to the effort to type it out and bring it in to us at the studio.

All artists know there are days when things go wrong – it doesn’t matter what you do, if you’re not in ‘the zone’ or on a bad roll, you just have to go with it.

Of course it’s the great days which make the challenging ones fade into the distance.

The day we received this letter was one of those days. It’s made me wonder, if Rita made us feel so special through simply sharing her gratitude, who can I return the gratitude with? One small thank you can make a massive difference…

 

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Introducing: BRANCHES by Joel Whitwell

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Benjamin Black Goldsmiths has just launched a brand new range of contemporary dress jewellery, BRANCHES, designed by 22-year old award-winning jeweller and Artist in Residence, Joel Whitwell.

Joel has been working on the BRANCHES range since he joined our Nelson-based studio and workshop in January.

Continuing on from Joel’s previous exhibition, Infra-thin, which took place in Auckland last year, BRANCHES is inspired by the investigation of the integrity of mass produced jewellery objects.

He says every piece is hand crafted to convey a whimsical uniqueness, so no two are ever the same, however the wood grain pattern is a constant commonality featured throughout.

“My inspiration for the range is based on creating a unique line which cannot be exactly replicated. The wood grain pattern is like a fingerprint, giving every ring, pendant, tie-pin or cuff-link an individual personality.”

BRANCHES by Joel Whitwell is available now at Benjamin Black Goldsmiths – 176 Bridge Street, Nelson, or online at www.benjaminblack.co.nz

BRANCHES BAND.

BRANCHES BAND.

BRANCHES Cufflinks

BRANCHES Cufflinks

BRANCHES Pendant

BRANCHES Pendant

BRANCHES Tie Pin

BRANCHES Tie Pin

BRANCHES Smokey Quartz Ring.

BRANCHES Smokey Quartz Ring.

Like Clockwork

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The ancient craft of watch and clock making has been around for centuries (or even longer perhaps).

My father, Rod Clark, is currently Nelson’s only fully qualified practicing watchmaker and we’re very lucky indeed to have him with us at Benjamin Black Goldsmiths.

We’re keeping him busy with plenty of repairs, overhauls, services and watch batteries. So when our friend Ishna Jacobs (photographer extraordinaire) popped in to take a few snaps, she had plenty of elements to choose from.

Ishna is great at capturing the art in our work and the work in our art.

She is a talented artist in her own right, as you can see from these stunning images…from Rod’s watchmaking corner…

Watchmaking - Benjamin Black Goldsmiths IAJ_1266-2 IAJ_1294-2Watch glasses - Benjamin Black GoldsmithsIAJ_1226IAJ_1233-2IAJ_1235-2IAJ_1239IAJ_1297-2

Black Tie Ensemble

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Last night I had the pleasure of attending the annual degustation dinner and auction to raise money for the Suter Art Gallery at the Nelson Yacht Club.

Well-dressed, distinguished gents were turned out in their dapper best, and it got me thinking about accessories that maketh the ultimate handsome ensemble.

Of course, the suave suit is a must, but a few simple pieces of classic jewellery can make all the difference when dressing for a smart occasion.

Here’s a sleek little ensemble I put together with a few statement Benjamin Black favs.

 

Windsor 3-Piece Suit: Crane Brothers
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lassic Tie Pin with Onyx: Benjamin Black Goldsmiths
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780 Verge Escapement Pocket Watch: Benjamin Black Goldsmiths
Quiff Signet Ring with Star Sapphire: Benjamin Black Goldsmiths

Threepence Coin Ring

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I love it when people think outside the square when it comes to jewellery. Especially when it’s a physical expression of the person’s history and design aesthetic.

After all jewellery should have some form of emotional attachment with the wearer, right? The bond is stronger when personality combines with individual creativity.

Recently I had a customer request a ring hand crafted using a silver NZ threepence coin from her birth year made in her favourite gold (rose).

Cool idea huh?

This was the result. It was a fun project – and as always, amazing to know she is wearing and loving her piece of history.

Threepence and rose gold ring by Benjamin Black Goldsmiths

Can Men Wear Engagement Rings?

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Yesterday The Nelson Mail published an article about men’s engagement rings rising in popularity, which featured a bunch of our Benjamin Black rings.

Nelson Mail Article - Benjamin Black Goldsmiths

It was a fantastic write-up based on the question – should men wear engagement rings too?

Or, as our studio manager Amy was quoted as saying, – “men want to be a part of the occasion – why should women get all the bling anyway?”

Signet ring with blue star sapphire by Benjamin Black Goldsmiths.

Signet ring with blue star sapphire by Benjamin Black Goldsmiths.

Good point. Why should only women wear a love objet d’art ? It is, after all, a symbol of a commitment and intention. Shouldn’t men be able to express that devotion to their beloved as well?

We have definitely noticed the men’s engagement ring rising in popularity.

Sterling silver and greenstone ring with black diamonds by Benjamin Black Goldsmiths

Sterling silver and greenstone ring with black diamonds by Benjamin Black Goldsmiths

“This is for a number of reasons. Gay marriage is one of them, people staying engaged for longer is another,” says Amy (as quoted by the Nelson Mail).

I think it’s a cool concept. Whether they’re worn as a signet ring, a cuff or a band with a diamond on the ‘engagement finger’, wearing your heart on your hand is always a beautiful thing.

What do you think? Can men wear engagement rings too? Or is a tradition that should be kept for women only? I’d love to hear your thoughts…

You can read the full article here.

Our Latest Engagements

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‘Tis the season to get married.

We’ve had the pleasure of creating a range of different custom engagement rings lately, so we wanted to share a few of them with you.

This custom made engagement ring was hand crafted in 18 carat yellow gold and set with a 1 carat diamond.

This custom made engagement ring was hand crafted in 18 carat yellow gold and set with a 1 carat diamond.

The best part about bespoke pieces, whatever they may be, is working with the people we make them for.

14 carat white gold engagement ring hand crafted using the customer's diamond.

14 carat white gold engagement ring hand crafted using the customer’s diamond.

From the initial meeting, to working through ideas and sketches together, to creating a mock-up design and then finally the finished ring itself, the process is quite an intimate one.

Chrome diopside and diamond ring by Benjamin Black Goldsmiths

Hand crafted in white gold, this stunning ring is set with a vibrant green chrome diopside stone and diamonds.

Many of our clients end up becoming our good friends, which is pretty amazing.

It’s a bit of a love fest all round and I’m more than OK with that. That’s what jewellery is all about…

Glorious Garnets

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With Valentine’s Day just around the corner, and as the official birthstone for January, now seems like as good a time as ever to pay homage to the glorious garnet.

Garnet

So what is a garnet exactly?

The word garnet is derived from the Latin word ‘granum’ (grain).

An ancient stone, garnets have been around for thousands of years. Apparently even Noah used a lantern from a garnet to light the way when navigating his ark at night time.

Noahs Garnet

Red is the most widely known colour, however garnets also come in green, different shades of yellow, blue, blue-green, fiery orange and earthy shades.

garnets

Garnets rank at 7 to 7.5 on the Mohs’ scale of hardness, which is why they are so great for everyday wear.

Here are a few designer pieces from Benjamin Black Goldsmiths made with garnets…

The Tulip Ring is inspired by the flower of its name, representing the emergence of new beginnings, in life, love, and nature, experienced during the blossoming season of Spring. This particular Tulip Ring is hand crafted in 18 carat yellow gold and set with a marquise cut faceted garnet.

The Tulip Ring is inspired by the flower of its name, representing the emergence of new beginnings, in life, love, and nature, experienced during the blossoming season of Spring.
This particular Tulip Ring is hand crafted in 18 carat yellow gold and set with a marquise cut faceted garnet.

This unique bespoke ring was hand crafted in 9ct yellow gold and set with the customer's cabochon garnet stone.

This unique bespoke ring was hand crafted in 9ct yellow gold and set with the customer’s cabochon garnet stone.

Garnet Engagement Ring by Benjamin Black Goldsmiths

This custom made engagement ring was crafted in 14ct red gold and set with a faceted garnet.

Garnet Drop Earrings by Benjamin Black Goldsmiths

Drop earrings in 9ct yellow gold with checkerboard garnets.

 

 

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