Jewellery range crafted to the Boh ideal

Boh Runga spots a woman wearing her earrings in an Ashburton cafe. Excited but a little shy, she resists the urge to approach the woman and remark on her choice of jewellery. Later, in Dunedin, she talks to Rosie Manins about her passion for creating beautiful things and why she should have said something.

Boh Runga, of Stellar* fame, is passionate about designing in collaboration with New Zealand Mint Jewellery, and recently brought her latest range, A Drop in the Ocean, to Dunedin. Photo supplied.
Boh Runga, of Stellar* fame, is passionate about designing in collaboration with New Zealand Mint Jewellery, and recently brought her latest range, A Drop in the Ocean, to Dunedin. Photo supplied.
This is the South, and Boh Runga is walking down George St when she spots another one.

''I have never seen so many Valiants!''

The Auckland resident, musician and jewellery designer loves her cars and is impressed with Dunedin's offering.

She and Rachel Warren, of New Zealand Mint Jewellery, have recently been on a brief tour of the South Island to launch Boh's latest range with the company.

A Drop in the Ocean is Boh's ninth collection of predominantly sterling silver and gold.

Inspired by natural elements, the ocean and a Mother Teresa quote, it features petite droplets of blue topaz.

The five pieces - stud earrings, bangle, chain bracelet, midi ring and pendant - are elegant and understated.

Boh is a self-described tomboy with a penchant for costume jewellery, but when it comes to designing she focuses on collections with meaning and classically pretty pieces for people to cherish above and beyond seasonal trends.

''I want to make things people can relate to and enjoy wearing every day. I don't want to be particularly faddy or anything.

''I love to see what trends there are, but fundamentally I like the thought that people might pass my jewellery down to their daughter or give it to a sister or loved one.''

Boh first collaborated with New Zealand Mint Jewellery in 2007 after expressing a desire to design and says the relationship has been a beautiful thing in itself.

She brings ideas about materials and aesthetics to the table and experienced jewellers work out the technical aspects of producing pieces.

A Drop in the Ocean is her first range to feature a gemstone, but is unlikely to be the last.

It was born of notions best summed up by the Mother Teresa quote: ''We know only too well what we are doing is nothing more than a drop in the ocean. But if the drop were not there, the ocean would be missing something.''

Boh says the jewellery should prompt wearers to think about their power to achieve big things, one small step at a time.

''The droplet feature is a reminder you can make a difference in your life and in the lives of others, even if it is small. It takes many small droplets to make up an entire ocean.''

She wears pieces from all her collections and gets a kick out of seeing the items on others.

''It's exciting to see people wearing it, I love it. I definitely should have said something to that woman in Ashburton.''

The lead singer of former band Stellar*, Boh says she is now recognised almost as much for her jewellery as for her music.

She will always take the opportunity to be involved in musical projects, but for now is content designing fulltime.

Future jewellery lines might feature pearls, sapphires and coloured stones.

''I love diamonds too, don't get me wrong.''

But Boh is adamant her jewellery has to be affordable for the average New Zealander, while also being of a lasting quality, and it is plated with rhodium to resist tarnishing.

She wants people to consider her pieces as special, but accessible.

''I've been a struggling musician happy enough to just eat potatoes, living on the bones of my bottom. I don't want people to feel they can't afford it, and I don't want to be a snob about things either.''

So what would she buy if the price was irrelevant? Something from Cartier's panther range.

''I also love the romance of Tiffany, and then there's Bulgari ...''

Boh's talent for design has seen her partner with friend and footwear designer Kathryn Wilson for fashion events including the iD Dunedin Fashion Show, and she has also been involved in other design projects over the years. She hopes there will be many more collaborations to come.

''I feel so lucky.''

- A Drop in the Ocean and other Boh Runga jewellery is available in Dunedin at Brent Weatherall Jeweller, as well as from selected stockists elsewhere in Otago and online.

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