While the jewelers’ ateliers were closed during the Spring lockdown, Nina Runsdorf had already started on a new collection. The designer had been presented a box of fossilised tree opals by a dealer earlier in the year and she just fell in love with these completely unique and rare stones. Runsdorf chose them as the anchor of her new collection.

The 15-million-year-old fossilized Indonesian wood creates opals that are evocative of land or sky scapes. Light to dark turquoise meet with stripes of rich browns. Runsdorf wrapped these stones with brown and cognac diamonds, white diamonds, rough diamonds, and Paraiba tourmalines. She also added Yawah and Boulder opals and icy diamonds and set the entire collection in rose gold to bring out the richness of the browns and compliment the turquoises.

The wonderful gems at the heart of Tree of Life are Petrified Wood, a form of fossil also called Mineralized wood. In essence, it is wood turned into stones, all organic materials replaced by minerals. Ground water deposits these minerals where the lignin and cellulose fall away as a result of the decay process. Trees, roots, family life take on an extra meaning with the designer’s new secondary logo, designed in collaboration with her daughter Alexa Runsdorf.

Designer Nina Runsdorf created her first jewelry collection at age 11, in her parents’ farm in upstate New York, a precocious talent to say the least. In her early twenties, after crafting some pieces which she was selling to friends in college, Runsdorf launched her first brand, Niana with her sister Anne (Niana stands for Nina and Anne) for which she designed delicately adorned vintage watch pins which the pair successfully sold to Bergdorf Goodman’s. While that was good omen, it was not paying the bills so Runsdorf went out and got a real job, at the Ralf Lauren flagship on Madison Avenue.

From there, she went on to Banana Republic, as accessories director, and continued on her trajectory in the fashion world. It took her creating the Flip Ring, to finally consider going into
business on her own.

Designer Nina Runsdorf: “In those years, when I was working on 47th street, I was really fascinated with rose-cut diamonds, diamond beads, anything extraordinary that was not a modern cut stone. And I love, love, love things that move. And I also liked micro set. When I found this amazing five carat pear-shaped rose cut diamond, I decided to make a ring with it, then I had this idea that it would be really great if it could go back and forth, surrounded by pave diamonds. And that’s how the Flip Ring was born!”

Prompted by feedback from a journalist from W Magazine, a successful trunk show with Stanley Korshak and finally at her husband’s insistence, Runsdorf created her namesake brand late in 2005. This Fall marks her 15 years in business, a momentous occasion, but one hard to celebrate given the current social, political and even environmental climate.

Thankfully, something was already in the works and Runsdorf rarely runs out of creative ideas. While the jewelers’ ateliers were closed during the Spring lockdown, she had already started on a new collection. The designer had been presented a box of fossilised tree opals by a dealer earlier in the year and she just fell in love with these completely unique and rare stones. Runsdorf chose them as anchor of her new collection. The 15-million-year-old fossilized Indonesian wood creates opals that are evocative of land or sky scapes. Light to dark turquoise meet with stripes of rich browns. Runsdorf wrapped these stones with brown and cognac diamonds, white diamonds, rough diamonds, and Paraiba tourmalines. She also added Yawah and Boulder opals and icy diamonds and set the entire collection in rose gold to bring out the richness of the browns and compliment the turquoises.

The summery tones were in her mind ideal to dream of seaside and holidays. As it turns out, with a nostalgic yet tender outlook, Runsdorf turned this unique “never too precious to wear”
collection into a celebration of a bohemian Indian summer, photographed by Andres Altamirano.

For this anniversary, I was planning to create an entire new collection. But as things evolved, by early Summer, I told myself: this is my anniversary collection. Taking me back to my roots. It’s something that really felt like the beginning. With that came Tree of Life.

Trees, roots, family life take on an extra meaning with the designer’s new secondary logo, designed in collaboration with her daughter Alexa Runsdorf. As a child, her parents had a dear sculptor and painter friend named Robert Kipniss, Runsdorf recalls: “He’s very famous for painting trees and different landscapes. One day, he made these four rings and my mother, let me choose the first one before my sister and brother and I chose this round one, and I’ve been wearing it for years and Alexa, who just came onboard was inspired. She said why don’t we do the roots of your ring as the tree of life? It takes you back to nature. It takes you back to your childhood. It takes you back to your parents. It takes you back to, I love you, in “Runsdorf language” like three branches, three people, Alexa and Katie and I.“

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *