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.
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
''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
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
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
''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
''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
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.