Q&A: Ruth Tomlinson

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Ruth Tomlinson is the Creative Director of her eponymous jewellery brand. She has developed an internationally recognised luxury jewellery business from her central London based atelier which has associations with some of the world’s most prestigious names. She has been hailed with influencing a new generation of jewellers with her design aesthetic and ipseity.

Ruth graduated in 2001 with first class BA (Hons) degree in Three Dimensional Design from Manchester School of Art. After being selected to attend the Goldsmiths’ Company’s Getting Started course, she went on to study on the Bishopsland Post Graduate course and then was appointed as Artist in Residence at Edinburgh College of Art, going on to achieve an MA from the Royal College of Art in 2005. She subsequently was selected to participate in the Crafted mentoring programme run by Walpole British Luxury in association with Vacheron Constatin.

Hailing from Lancaster, she started her business as an entrepreneurial teenager, she is now a multi-award winning designer - most recently a Finalist for Jewellery Designer of the Year title at the UK Jewellery Awards 2016, having also been Finalist in the New Jewellery Designer of the Year and Designer of the Year categories at the UK Jewellery Awards in 2008. Other awards have included the Wedgwood Future of Design Award, the Coutts New Jeweller Award, and the Theo Fennel Prize for Best in Jewellery at the Royal College of Art. She answers the Benchpeg Q&A.

Above: Ruth Tomlinson in her central London atelier.

What’s your name, and what do you for a living?

RT: Ruth Tomlinson, jewellery designer and maker.

How did you come to work in the jewellery industry?

RT: I’ve been creating and selling jewellery creations since childhood with my first stockist being my family’s pharmacy. I went on to study 3-D Design in Manchester followed by an MA at the RCA which has led us to where we are today.

How would you describe your work to someone who doesn’t know it?

RT: Ethereal treasures filled with unexpected details and imbued with an otherworldy sense of a bygone era.

What is your creative process?

RT: I’m always looking for beauty and inspiration in the world around me. I’m very much a maker so the jewels really come to fruition during the making process when I translate my ideas into a tangible treasures.

Where do you love to shop?

RT: I like the thrill of the find, so I enjoy eBay or TK Max for that. I also love something beautifully crafted and unique – I’m lucky to have done some great swaps with talented  designers and makers, amongst my favourites are Matta NY for boho fashion using  textiles from India, Lucy Miller for handmade knitwear, Susy Harper for beautiful feminine designs, and Justin Ho for my Donegal tweed coat.

What is your inspiration?

RT: My inspiration is drawn from both the mysteries of historical jewels and curiosities of nature. I love to observe and absorb my surroundings and I seek out the unconventional and unexpected beauty within. 

What piece of jewellery do you most treasure?

RT: Unfortunately we had all our family heirlooms stolen when I was young, so probably the first piece of jewellery my partner Gareth gave me – an original Bohemian brooch made with hundreds of tiny deep red garnets, the craftsmanship is incredible and it has a real sense of historical opulence to it.

What piece of jewellery do you most desire?

RT: A historical diamond ring from 16th or 17th century Britain or Europe.

Or a contemporary ring created by the wonderful Karl Fritsch.

If you could only be remembered for one thing in your working life, what would it be?

RT: A piece that means the world to one of our clients. Something with special symbolism that will be passed down and loved by generations to come, lasting the passage of time.

Above: Commissions for clients

What would be your advice to someone starting out in the industry?

RT: Keep learning. Listen to feedback from people and take their responses onboard. Stay true to your individual vision. Believe in yourself and just go for it!

The Benchpeg Proust Q&A

  1. What’s your favourite work of art?
    RT: A still life of a vase of flowers by 18th century Dutch artist Jan van Huysum.

  2. Who from past or present would you invite to a dinner party for the evening?
    RT: Queen Elizabeth I in all her finery.

  3. Do you have any pets, if yes, what is their name?
    RT: Just the wild birds in the garden!

  4. What is your most treasured possession?
    RT: Life.

  5. What would you consider a perfect day?
    RT: A contented one.

  6. Is there a favourite journey, trip or voyage you hold dear?
    RT: My first independent travel – a year in Australia and South East Asia at the tender age of 19. A magical year of inspiration and self discovery.

  7. What is your greatest achievement?
    RT: Professionally, the brand I created and the team we have now.

  8. What advice would tell your younger self?
    RT: Things will turn out the way they are intended for your path in life.

  9. Can you sum yourself up in one word?
    RT: No, I’m a bit more complicated than that!

  10. What motto do you live by?
    RT: Life is too short.

Ruth and her team will be taking part in Cockpit Arts Summer Open Studios event, inviting visitors behind the scenes in the studios with the opportunity to buy work direct from Cockpit Arts’ master craftspeople and artist-makers

Dates: 9 - 11 June 2017

Venue: Cockpit Arts Holborn, Northington Street, London

More info: cockpitarts.com

Ruth Tomlinson can be found at:









Image credits: Images sourced from Ruth Tomlinson, V&A Collections online, Pinterest, The National Gallery, 

Photography credits: Pat Hall; Alun Callender Photography courtesy of Cockpit Arts; Anna McCarthy Photography.


Rebecca van Rooijen


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