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.
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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.
"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!”
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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.
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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.
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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.
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“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.“
OPALIZED WOOD AND BROWN DIAMOND EARRINGS
18K Rose Gold 6.48cts Opalized Wood Tops 18.51cts Opalized Wood Bottom stones 4.83cts Cognac Brown Diamonds $27,950.00
The wonderful gems at the heart of Tree of Life are Petrified Wood, a form of fossil also called Mineralized wood.
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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.
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The petrification - mineralization process takes place when a tree is buried under sediment, usually as a result of a natural disaster and lasts for many millions of years.
YAHWAH OPAL BROWN DIAMOND AND PARAIBA RING 18K Rose Gold 12.50cts Yahwah Opal 3.32cts Champagne Diamonds 1.04cts Brown Diamond Melee 0.50cts Paraiba Melee $31,500.00
This incredible wood, found in Indonesia, is usually the Dipterocarpus and sometimes the root of a palm tree. The opalized wood from Indonesia is considered young at 22 million years. Young compared to American petrified wood which goes back 220 million years!
CARVED ROSEWOOD AND BROWN DIAMOND BANGLE 18K Rose Gold 118.43cts Rosewood 3.85cts Brown Diamonds $29,500.00
Bold and warm, Yahwah Opals are mixed with brown diamonds and paraiba, are accompanied by a rosewood carved bangle, adorned with rose gold and pave brown diamonds.
YAHWAH AND BLUE OPAL EARRINGS 18K Rose Gold 44.20cts Yahwah Opal 11.40cts Australian Blue Opal 2.41cts Pave Diamonds $37,950.00
Nina Runsdorf loves warm browns, here offering them as either brown diamond briolettes, tigers eye or in another extraordinary Yahwah opals.
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For this collection, Nina chose rose gold, warm and sensual in tone, which she adorned with brown and rosecut diamonds, for delicate and playful movement, whether on your ears or on your fingers.
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Nina would like to thank all the people who have helped her since 2005 to make her dreams come true.
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She is especially grateful to her team and suppliers who made it possible to bring out this incredible collection in such complicated times.
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Thank you to Andres Altamirano, Adam Kremer, Ani Schroeter and to Brendan Burdzinski for capturing the essence of this collection in celebration of the anniversary.
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Nina also thanks our external teams for all their precious support: Emma Beckett PR, DLG, Elespacio, Jase Cooper and Z7 Communications.
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And of course, she thanks her family and her two beautiful daughters, Alexa and Katie.