Blogs: All That Glitters / Colored Stones / Designers / Gold

These Ruth Tomlinson Rings Have Hawaiian-Getaway Vibes


Ever envy those people who just peace out for the holidays and go on vacation somewhere warm and tropical instead of sticking around for the Currier & Ives experience? If you’re reading this at work while others are posting pool, beach, and sunset pics from their trip on Instagram, these new rings from London-based designer Ruth Tomlinson might have the power to whisk you away to the Hawaiian island that inspired their design: Kauai. With its verdant, unspoiled landscape, rugged beaches, and cascading waterfalls, the “Garden Isle” proved to be a gold mine of natural wonders when the she spent a week there last spring as part of an artist’s residency hosted by Monkey Palm Mercantile.

“It was an informal arrangement created by the store’s founders Stacy and Mark Rivett, who have always been passionate about global design, handmade goods, and supporting artisans,” explains Tomlinson.

Since opening their store in 2021, the Rivetts have hosted three artists, providing each with a respite from their current surroundings so that they might be immersed in the otherworldly beauty of the island. “I had daily access to wander the remote coastlines and explore the ocean wilderness, I was often lucky enough to have the beach to myself!” says Tomlinson. “The residency was for a week, but I extended my time in Hawaii to explore more, and I ended up staying for a month and traveled to some of the other islands.”

The result of her immersion on Kauai is a petite collection called Curiosities—just four rings—that are inspired by the four essential elements of nature  (earth, air, water, and fire). Small as these jewels are, they are the by-product of an epic journey of the mind and spirit.

Each ring is intended to be an homage to the beauty of nature itself as well as to the intrigue of its imperfections.

Ruth Tomlinson Kauai moodboard
A mood board for the Curiosities collection might have looked something like this, a kind of photo diary documenting the treasures Tomlinson discovered and the experiences that made a lasting impression, such as her visit to a local botanical garden. There, she met a lei and jewelry artisan who taught her how to make leis using flowers, leaves, shells, and seeds. She likewise began to formulate ideas at the sight of coral and rock structures and other objects she found on the beach. While on the islands, Tomlinson also mentored local jewelers on the running of a jewelry business and discussed the topics of pricing, branding, packaging, websites, social media, sourcing, making, and goldsmithing.

As a designer, Tomlinson has always had “a strong magical connection with nature,” particularly when it comes to the rhythms and mysteries of the ocean. “I was brought up on salty sea air on Morecambe Bay and walking in the Lake District,” she says. “Kauai’s amazing landscapes were unlike anything I had seen before. Nature always fills me with endless curiosity and intrigue. Looking closer and closer, I found shells the size of a grain of sand—just incredible. The entire place sparked my continuous fascination in the wonders of nature. I am wide open to the idea of beauty in the world and can find it in a common weed or a rarity in nature that I will most probably see only once, like the way a shell might be attached to a twig.”

Ruth Tomlinson earth ring
On an island like Kauai, even the sand can serve as muse. During one of Tomlinson’s many beach walks, she stumbled across a temple of coral that someone had erected in the sand, revealing the deep reverence Kauaian islanders have for their landscapes. It was a small but inspiring gesture of gratitude to Mother Nature now encapsulated in the intricate details of this jewel. Earth ring in 14k yellow gold with peridot, price on request.
Ruth Tomlinson air ring
Tomlinson was struck by the sheer magnitude of the island’s rain forest and compares the variety of vegetation, from towering trees to moss and lichen, to a complex tapestry. With trees and plants providing the oxygen we require to breathe and live, Kauai’s rain forests—”the lungs of the island,” says Tomlinson—felt like the most appropriate representation of the element of air. The sapphire in this 18k gold Air ring is a nod to the island’s lush greenery. 
Ruth Tomlinson fire ring
Tomlinson was intrigued by the fact that Kauai’s lush ferns and flora grew up out of the lava that is the bedrock of the island (all Hawaiian islands are volcanic) and the idea that life can reemerge from once-barren terrain. A peridot discovered in Kauaian lava serves as the centerpiece of this ring.

Back in her Hatton Garden studio, the impact of Tomlinson’s Hawaiian reverie is still deeply felt. She says the experience has made her more open and receptive to creative stimuli wherever they surface: “Being so deeply entrenched in such wild and inspiring natural surroundings reminded me of what fundamentally drives my creative spirit and sort of reinvigorated that sense of excitement over my everyday inspirations.”

Top: As part of her artist’s residency on the island of Kauai, Ruth Tomlinson started collecting natural materials from the island and creating enchanting tiny objects. The essence of these objects eventually evolved to become the Curiosities collection, which evokes the designer’s Kauai discoveries in pieces that ultimately connect the wearer to nature on a deep level. Water ring in 9k white gold with aquamarine, all prices on request.

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Amy Elliott

By: Amy Elliott

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