May 18 2011
Richly decorative and evocative of antique jewellery, Ruth Tomlinson’s bespoke earrings, rings and necklaces seem destined for romantic souls. But they’re also likely to appeal to anyone looking for distinctive, rather than blend-into-the-background minimalist pieces. Tomlinson, who is based at London’s designer-makers’ studio complex Cockpit Arts, created her first delicate collections, Flora (made of silver and porcelain) and Sketch (silver and 18ct gold), 10 years ago.
After completing an MA in goldsmithing, silversmithing, metalwork and jewellery at the Royal College of Art six years ago, she began using pearls and diamonds and – on a humbler note – fragments of found glass too.
Her collections have aptly romantic names – two others, called Hoard and Encrustations, evoke deep-sea treasure chests or rocks and reefs studded with shells. It’s not surprising to hear that she’s inspired by nature – her pieces generally look organic – as well as by pre-Raphaelite paintings and Tudor miniaturists such as Nicholas Hilliard. “The meticulous attention to detail in these styles of art appeal to my jeweller’s eye,” she says.
Sometimes she redesigns clients’ existing jewellery or recycles materials provided by them: “I was once asked to make a ring out of glass from someone’s old goldfish bowl,” she says. But just as often she’s asked to create original pieces from scratch.
Her bespoke rings with, say, gold, precious and semiprecious stones, cost from £850, those incorporating diamonds from £1,250.
Part of the originality of Tomlinson’s work lies in the fact that she doesn’t see materials in a hierarchical way: “I’m interested in the surface qualities of materials rather than in their conventional value.” She’s just as passionate about exploring the creative potential of “glass found on the street as diamonds dug deep beneath the earth”.
First picture: natural diamond ring, from £1,850. Second picture: pearl drop earrings, £360.