Benjamin Black Goldsmiths

“Nelson has such a vibrant creative scene – there are so many incredible artists in the region. The sense of community and helping each other out is very much alive and well. Local artists, jewelers and creatives often pop into my workshop for a coffee, and to exchange ideas. Tim Royall is an incredible marble sculptor and a friend of mine. I also admire Craig Potton‘s photographs. I’m inspired by everyone’s energy, enthusiasm and uniqueness – it’s contagious!

I started my apprenticeship at sixteen and completed it when I was twenty. But the biggest milestone so far has been launching my own brand, firstly online in 2012, and then opening the studio and workshop last year in Nelson, New Zealand. I love clean, sleek lines, which is probably why I’m so drawn to European design. We’re surrounded by incredible landscapes here which is a big catalyst for creativity. Music also inspires me – I’m always listening to something in the workshop. Right now I’m playing a lot of Cold War Kids, The Dions (they’re Nelson based, and amazing), The Strokes, White Lies, Moby, Gorillaz, The Black Keys, Bombay Bicycle Club and the Arctic Monkeys.

For me classic, understated style resonates most. I don’t do casual very well – I guess I’m a bit of a nerd. [Laughs] I wear a shirt every day – even on weekends and when I’m in the workshop. I’ll sometimes wear a scarf or cravat – I love scarves. In terms of jewelry I always wear two stacked pinky rings. I’m all about designing custom pieces – especially rings. People are always wanting something made uniquely for them. Obviously it’s a very personal process. Many of my customers are out of town or overseas and they want pieces that are one-of-a-kind, hand-made and will last forever. It’s a privilege to be part of that process. I recently made a a bespoke tie pin for Colin Mathura-Jeffree, who’s a bit of a fashion icon here in New Zealand.

There are so many great men’s accessories. Tie pins, cuff links and signet rings – all of which have been around for years, centuries even. The classics never fade. Also I’m noticing that men’s jewelry is beginning to include gemstones, like diamonds, rubies and emeralds. I really like black diamonds on men. I recently made a men’s ring in 14kt white gold set with six faceted black diamonds. More men are buying and wearing engagement rings, which is a really cool trend. [Laughs] I mean why should women have all the fun?  Also, I love a good statement piece – like the gold bald eagle pendant I made for a customer in Auckland.

When I travel I keep it light and simple. I always carry my Ben Sherman satchel, Ray-Bans, Tom Ford specs, Sebastian hair product, face cream by Plantae, Ibuprofen, my iPhone, wallet, and a few design magazines. [Laughs] Nothing like a bit of inspiration on-the-go!”

– Benjamin Clark photographed by Alexander Atkins in Nelson, NZ. For more information and to shop click here.

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