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For over a quarter century, Bina Goenka has been a high jewelry maker for a discerning group of collectors. From India to an international clientele, she has built a following by creating unique masterpieces that showcase brightly colored stones like Mozambican rubies, sapphires, emeralds, or Paraiba.
To adorn her designs, Goenka looks to Gemfields, the world leader in responsibly sourced gems, which is committed to improving awareness and sustainability in the industry. Whitewall spoke with Goenka about drawing people into her worldview.
WHITEWALL: Where do you find inspiration?
BINA GOENKA: I am inspired by everything around me—architecture, geometry—but mostly I am inspired by nature. I love looking at things and replicating them in jewelry, and often take long walks in the parks in London, collecting and studying various forms of leaves and flowers. I enjoy attempting to re-create them as accurately as possible using fine gemstones and intricate craftsmanship.
WW: Where does a unique piece typically start? Is it the gem, a sketch, a request from a client?
BG: Typically, I see a stone or a parcel of stones that I love. Almost instantly, I have a design in my mind that I have to scribble out immediately. Thereafter, that scribble is developed into the piece, and then I add to it or make small changes if I need to.
With bespoke client commissions, the client simply tells me what they’re looking for—for example, a ruby ring or an emerald necklace. It is then my responsibility to understand what the client thinks they want, and create something that is far beyond their expectations.
WW: Have you always been drawn to color in your pieces?
BG: I have always loved color, as I believe it brings designs to life. Whether it is rubies, sapphires, emeralds, or Paraiba, they have the ability to take a design and turn it into a living form that camouflages with nature. My work with color plays either with sharp contrasts, such as rubies with emeralds, or strict monotone, where I even match the color of the metal to the gemstone that I am working with.
WW: Tell us about the snake design you created using Gemfields’ Mozambican rubies.
BG: I wanted to make a wire which is as flexible as a chain, but able to embody the specific movement as a snake when it slithers. My aim with this piece was to perfect movement. As I was working on Kaa, I realized that I would like to make scales in rubies, and therefore Gemfields Mozambique rubies were a perfect fit. With the snake having been done by brands before, I wanted mine to stand out and be different, so I used a very large ruby tumble for the snake’s head, and then used brown diamond eyes. I then used ruby rose cuts on the chin of the snake, to give his jaw depth. The snake is made of 163.95 carats of Mozambique rubies, of which the ruby tumble weighs 31.10 carats
WW: You include a mix of cut and polished and rough stones. What do you like about this combination?
BG: I like that it tells the story of the ruby from mine to market. The ruby, like all other gemstones, is beautiful in every form, and not just in the final cut/polished and faceted form. Therefore, I love to show off its journey from the very stone that is found in the mine, and through the stages of processing that it goes through. In doing so, I’m able to highlight that each version of it brings a different character to the piece, and they all come together into a beautiful, one-of-a-kind masterpiece.
WW: Why is it important for you to know where your materials are sourced?
BG: Responsible sourcing is important because there is a clear understanding that all the funds procured from a sale have gone rightfully to the people who are entitled to those funds. It is important to be assured that the people involved in the supply chain were not faced with any duress in procuring the stone. Through these reassurances, you know the stones themselves carry a purity that is free of negativity and free of ill will, and thus you are encouraged to work with that stone. As a client, if you’re investing in a gemstone that you would like to hold on to and possibly pass down for generations, you don’t want the history of that stone to be unclear, or stained. Thus, responsible sourcing gives us this guarantee, and provenance, which are both very important to me and my clients.