Usually when I meet a designer, it’s because I’ve seen their jewelry and then sought them out: I see the designs first, and then the person. With Ruta Reifen, everything happened at once.
I was walking a trade show when a woman in a super cute white sundress stopped me because she recognized me from Instagram. She introduced herself as Ruta, and we immediately hit it off: I didn’t know who she was or why she was there, but her bright energy and warm, open friendliness drew me in right away. It wasn’t until we’d been chatting happily for a several minutes that I even realized she was there as a designer.
And then: holy moly, her designs.
Don’t these necklaces look like something that mermaid would gift you in exchange for a favor, probably through swirls of a silver mist near a secret lagoon?
I love the delicacy of the color contrast – it range from gentle to drastic, sometimes with a close enough gradient to feel almost ombre, but never going with what’s expected.
Perhaps the most distinctive element of Ruta Reifen’s design aesthetic is the texture of her gold work.
There’s something organic about the barnacle-esque texture of the gold settings; and you know I love a bit of well-executed texture. Ruta blends the “maybe it just grew this way” feeling with glamour and finesse in a way I find totally irresistible.
I was getting the mermaid vibe from Ruta Reifen’s pieces all along, but when I interviewed her for this article I found out that’s it’s intentional: the sea is a major inspiration for her. In her own words:
Growing up by the Mediterranean gazing into the sea with wonder, I’ve always been fascinated with underwater forms, they have punctuated my life with slivers of happiness. Their flowing lines, endless shapes and colors, are the source of my creative work.
A synergy of classic silhouettes, coral-like texture and evolving color story create the romantic feel I wish to extend to the wearer.”
I always like to ask designers about their quintessential customer: who they imagine will be wearing their jewelry. Ruta delighted me completely answering that she designs for an Amphitrite: a mythical princess/goddess of the sea.
First of all, I adore Greek mythology and I love when a designer has a such a specific, unusual influence informing their designs. And second of all: isn’t that fantastic? Don’t you want to cover yourself in Ruta Reifen jewels and be an Amphitrite?
When you learn a little more about Ruta Reifen’s personal background, it’s no surprise that she’s developed such a strong, clear point of view.
Ruta’s passion of jewelry design was born when she, as a 17 year old living in London, took an evening class at Central Saint Martins College of Art in Goldsmithing. It was, to use Ruta’s words, “love at first solder.”
That love stayed with Ruta through her time in London, during her years in Israel, where she served in the Air Force, and grew as she studied jewelry design at Shenkar College of Engineering and Design in Israel and then with a Masters of Fine Arts from Masters of Fine Art degree at Rhode Island School of Design.
Since then, Ruta has dedicated as much time to her jewelry as possible, all while working for other high-end fashion brands (from Michael Kors to Tory Burch) and also teaching jewelry design to others at places like Pratt Institute, Rhode Island School of Design, SMFA Boston, Brooklyn Metal Works, Penland School of Craft, and more.
Finally, in the summer of 2015 – shortly before we first met – Ruta launched her own fine jewelry line.
So you see, Ruta Reifen truly is a maker, as well as a designer: she doesn’t just come up with the ideas for this jewelry, she makes it herself with her own two hands, using precious materials and years of experience.
Interestingly enough, Ruta does not wear her own jewelry – or any other jewelry. She says that her mission and her true passion is to create art to decorate others:
Even though I don’t wear jewelry myself, I am very connected to my Amphitrites, it’s an intimate exchange between us. My goal is to gift the wearer a moment of happiness and bliss in the form of jewelry.”
Such a good example of the million and one reasons it’s better to buy jewelry made by individual artists: don’t you want to wear a piece made by someone who cares about you that much?
What do you think, my darlings? Are you ready to embrace your inner Amphitrite with Ruta Reifen’s jewels?
Images via Ruta Reifen. See more on her website, here.