Amy Cunningham from Benjamin Black Goldsmiths and Black Matter. Image by Ana Galloway for TYLAR.
Amy Cunningham is the co-owner of Benjamin Black Goldsmiths in partnership with master jeweller Benjamin Clark. The jewellery brand is based in Nelson with each piece lovingly hand crafted on site at their workshop. While Amy runs sales and marketing for Benjamin Black Goldsmiths she also collaborates on jewellery designs and is creative director of sister jewellery brand Black Matter which specialises in contemporary statement jewellery.
We caught up with Amy to find out more about her brands, what inspires her and what you would never catch her wearing!
Tell us about your latest collection?
The Penumbra Collection is our most recent, and has (almost) been selling faster than we can make it.
It was inspired by its lunar meaning, the shadow made by the sun across the moon. The gold discs resemble the moon. Although people have also said the pieces look like water diviners or tuning forks, which is kinda cool. I love it when clients interpret their own meaning from a piece of jewellery.
Like all our lines, this collection is handcrafted entirely in New Zealand. This is quite unique, as many jewellery brands/designers outsource the actual ‘making’ overseas. We’re really proud of the fact our jewellery is made to the same high standard as fine jewellery – with solid precious metals – and made right here in NZ from start to finish.
What made you become a designer?
My partner is a manufacturing jeweller, and I have always been a really creative person, so Black Matter has been a very natural, synergistic and collaborative journey. I love creating an idea, and then working with Benjamin to bring the concept to life. I find art, music, dance, poetry and any form of creativity really inspiring. We are so passionate about Black Matter because we wanted to showcase to the world a jewellery line that’s truly Kiwi, and beautifully made. Our mantra is – made by hand, made to last.
What inspires you?
Most recently, architecture. I may or may not have formed a slightly unhealthy obsession with arches. I have designed a truck load of arch-inspired concepts but none of them have ‘worked’ practically yet. I think Benjamin is getting a irritated by my little arch frenzied state and constant presentation of scribbled earrings on smudged paper cut offs. Sorry babe!
Jewellery by Black Matter.
Describe your personal style and how it influences your designs?
I love a classic foundation with something bold, unexpected or unique. A beautiful timeless dress with a crazy neck scarf, statement pendant or vintage boots. You’ll see this in our designs, which are fairly classic in terms of form – anyone can wear them. But they will also have a little bit of spice, whether it’s a bold hammered finish, or offset lines, or oxidised (blackened) background.
What is your all-time favourite purchase?
A vintage Oroton clutch that I found in an op shop. It reminds me of my mother. Classy and bold and retro with a bit of sass.
What wardrobe item should everyone invest in?
It’s so cliche but an LBD…although it doesn’t have to be ‘little’. A timeless, well-tailored black dress is such a staple and something I can’t live without.
Do you have a style rule you always obey?
Invest in quality. Even if its just one or two new pieces each season. Don’t get me wrong, I’m still a sucker for a good high street bargain, but you just can’t go past a well-made garment that lasts for years.
Jewellery by Black Matter.
What has been the highlight of your career so far?
We have been fortunate to win some pretty amazing business awards, but for me personally going to New York next month is a highlight. We have been invited to exhibit Black Matter at an international jewellery event there, as there has been interest from buyers over there. I’ve always wanted to go there and can’t wait!
What can’t you live without?
Nail file and dental floss.
Finish this sentence – You would never catch me wearing…
CROCS (sorry, my brother is a surgeon but trust me, the croc-loving gene is not genetic!).
Images by Ana Galloway for TYLAR.