Olivier Dupon sits down with Nina Runsdorf, founder of her eponymous jewelry brand. Her creations: NSR by Nina Runsdorf translate into gemstones that abound in a wide range of seductive shades, forming a dazzling array of bold yet feminine designs.
A fierce believer that each gem has its own personality, Runsdorf has a vibrant, artistic approach, which translates into eclectic pieces that exude passion, romance and vivacity. Among her many talents, applying the right amount of free-flow creativity can be seen in the diversity of construction from one piece to another. Geometric meets organic, semi precious is paired with precious, and all these successful permutations open unique creative doors. Case in point with the pioneering of sliced diamonds, a game changer in the industry, for which she must be credited.
There’s so much to be covered, so let’s hear from Nina Runsdorf herself as she has kindly agreed to answer our questions.
Olivier Dupon – what makes you passionate about jewellery?
Nina Runsdorf – Jewellery has an amazing power. It isn’t simply a commodity, it’s a piece of art; it elevates personal style; it makes people happy.
How did you come to be working in the field of jewellery?
I began my career in fashion working for some of the top luxury brands in the U.S. My passion for and understanding of jewellery began at a very young age. I work in New York City, but at a young age my parents moved our family to a sprawling farm in upstate New York. My mother, who is an inspiration and entrepreneur, set up a jewellery bench in our kitchen as an activity.
What would be the one most important piece of advice you would now tell your younger self, entering the jewellery world?
It’s a piece of advice that has been given for generations…stay true to yourself. In the jewellery space, it means don’t get caught up in trends or trying to achieve commercial success…rather, focus on what designs drive you.
What type of jewellery person are you?
I’m the wearable type. The type that doesn’t think owning something precious means you don’t wear it. I also believe any piece of jewellery, when worn correctly, can be used at any hour of the day.
What is the piece of jewellery you cannot part with? How did you come to own it?
My first flip ring. I created it using a rose-cut diamond. I never remove it.
When did you set up your business? Was it easy or difficult?
I established my company in 2005. Was it easy? 100% NO. Any brand faces a mountain of challenges, but it’s a passion for what you’re doing that drives you to overcome them and prevail.
Did you follow a business model or just your instincts?
Designers are passionate people…and while I surround myself with smart business people, I always follow my instincts.
In a few words, can you describe the core concept of your business?
Wearable, one-of-a-kind pieces of art made from precious and semi-precious stones.
How do you grow your business?
I align with like-minded partners around the world who appreciate my point-of-view and attention to detail.
Has the social media revolution had an impact on how you do business?
Social media has opened up many channels for my company. My personal excitement is seeing the various ways women wear my pieces when they #hashtag the brand. That glimpse into their style and how they incorporate a piece of my jewellery into their life is thrilling.
You are known for pushing the boundaries of fine jewellery: is the sky really the limit?
I wish the sky were the limit. Boundaries in jewellery really depend on what a stone and metal allows. When I first started having people cut slices for me, they thought I was crazy…but it worked and turned into a huge trend in jewellery. Sometimes it’s just thinking about something in a different way.
Do gemstones come first in the design process or are they there to support the concept?
I design around the stone itself. The shape, colour, type all dictate the end result. My inspiration comes from the stone.
Do you sketch your jewellery?
I do a combination of rough sketch (I’m no artist) and layout. I mostly lay out in wax…trying various combinations until I come up with a concept I love.
What is the best advice you would give women when it comes to choosing their fine jewellery?
Consider your lifestyle…then push the limits. I’ve met so many women who are too timid to wear their big jewellery. If you aren’t wearing it, sell it and find something you love. A core collection of pieces that can carry you from day-to-evening is a fine place to start. Remember any addiction begins with a single experience.
What is your vision of the field you are in, at the moment?
I find it to be very, very cluttered. Brands need to work much harder to keep their share in the market. It’s not easy, brands seem to spring up overnight…most only last a year or two, or just see success from one style…regardless, it makes it very difficult for the field in general.
I continue to create my pieces to the same high standard as I have since day one and that fact has keep me growing year after year for the past 12 years.
What are your plans for nsr in the near future?
We’re working on some very exciting artist collaborations; a capsule collection of extraordinary home items, and we just opened a new atelier on New York’s Upper East Side.
Please complete: ‘a world without jewellery would be like…
A world without light.