Ruth Tomlinson Designer Q & A
Discover Ruth Tomlinson's inspirations & joy she finds
in nature's beauty of imperfection as we meet her in our designer Q&A...
Why did you choose jewellery as a career?
I’ve been making jewellery ever since childhood, taking inspiration from growing up at the seaside and learning an early appreciation for nature, I’d create adornments from natural found treasures. I think it chose me in the end, it’s been an organic process, a natural progression of my childhood hobby into a career!
What materials do you use and why? What makes them special?
We use different alloys of gold - our 14ct yellow is our own special mix of alloys to achieve a unique, warm golden colour that suits just about all skin tones; our white gold is left in it’s natural golden-grey tone, free from any superficial plating that commercial jewelers favour to make the gold more silver in colour.
Our favourite stones are diamonds! We favour alternative diamonds that are not cookie-cut: natural diamond crystals in their original raw state; old European cut diamonds that were painstakingly cut by hand resulting in stones that are not perfectly symmetric and existed before the ‘four c’s’ so they’re not commercially graded by modern standards, making them so unique and interesting, embracing their natural imperfections! We also have some of our diamonds cut especially for us by master diamond cutters in Antwerp whose family heritage is lapidary, the secrets and skills of the craft being passed down through generations.
Tell us about your techniques…?
To quote Grayson Perry ‘time is the greatest craftsman’ – my work and techniques have been influenced by the unknown craftsmen from bygone eras, those who created the incredible treasures in the jewellery rooms at the British Museum and the V&A. I combine ancient jewellery-making techniques with a unique and innovative, experimental approach which I’ve refined into my signature technique of lost wax casting with the stones in place, securing them into their new homes during the casting process and resulting in the aesthetic of the stones seemingly buried amongst granules of gold as if encrusted over time.
You have been described as influencing a generation with your style, why do you think your work had such an impact and a continuing allure?
I’m always looking for the unconventional beauty in the world. I guess you could say I’m very inspired by the Japanese term wabi sabi: perfectly imperfect, embracing the natural lifecycle of things. This applies to objects I have in my life and the jewellery we make, finding that perfect point in is lifecycle and seeing the beauty in the unfinished or at the first signs of decay. I’ve remained true to this approach in my life and I think that has helped me to develop a unique aesthetic that I’ve managed to keep pushing forward and constantly letting the creativity flow to develop into something new. I don’t follow trends or try to fit into any existing contemporary preconceptions of what jewellery should look like, what it should be made of, how it should be valued, and I think this has helped me maintain a captive audience for my work.
What jewellery do you like to wear yourself? Is there a particular piece you love/crave or a designer whose work you admire?
I didn’t used to wear jewellery because my job is very practical, but I’ve recently started wearing one of our asymmetric champagne diamond ring designs which consists of a cluster of old cut diamonds surrounding a beautiful 1ct rose cut diamond that we had specially cut keeping the outline form of the original raw diamond crystal that it was cut from – a beautiful mix of organic shape and historical influence. I love the wonderful Karl Fritsch’s rings, as well as the wearable treasures from 16th or 17th century Britain or Europe.
What excites you?
Adventurous travels to far flung natural destinations not on the tourist map
Where is your favourite place?
My calling is to the sea! I was brought up on salty sea air in Morecambe Bay, Lancashire and I need a regular fix of the wide expanse and possibilities of the ocean and its connection to the rest of the world. My favourite place is anywhere I can connect with the sea.
What music do you listen to?
I have an eclectic taste in music: we listen to BBC 6 Music in the studio every day, we have a large collection of world music at home, and I always enjoy discovering new sounds too.
What was the first jewellery piece you made?
Probably something from Fimo when I was a child! My first fine jewellery piece is a design that is still part of our collectioins: a raw champagne diamond ring with rose cut grey diamonds clustered on either side of it
Did you ever think you would have jewellery as a career, what else would you like to have done?
I always knew I’d follow a creative career - be creating something. If not jewellery then probably ceramics.
What are your biggest influences?
Curiosities of nature and the mysteries of historical jewels
What’s next for you and your jewellery?
We’re working on some exciting plans this year with a new collection in the works that is introducing a new direction for the brand – excited to reveal it all in due course!