Recently I was scouring the net for inspiration and new blog subjects and I happened across some amazingly detailed city rings, which painstakingly feature the landmarks of your favourite city so you can keep it close to you at all times. I was interested in the designer so I did a little bit of research, and discovered the lady behind these beautiful pieces has an interesting story to tell.
Goldsmith Ola Shekhtman only started to make jewellery five years ago in Russia, and started out making the pieces by hand. When she moved to New York she didn’t take her tools and decided to seize the opportunity to update her technique, and studied 3D modelling. She kindly took some time out from her busy working day to talk to me and tell me more…
Have you always made things? Were you creative as a child?
I always liked to make something with my hands – drawing and painting, but never thought I would end up making jewellery or rings!
Where did you grow up? Were you encouraged to be creative as a child?
I was born in Siberia. I am an only child, and lucky to be very loved by everyone around me. My parents and grandparents encouraged me all the way.
Who or what inspires you to create?
Actually, nobody inspired me. One day my husband said “stop your office work, start doing something you will really like.” He gave me a yellow sticker with the phone number of a jewellery school in Saint Petersburg, Russia, where we lived at that time.
When did you get the idea to make the city rings?
When I was a little girl, I wanted to have a ring which featured houses. In 2013 in a lesson at the jewellery school whilst practicing goldsmithing, I made this type of ring and gave it to my friend as a gift. And in May 2015 when I was practising 3D modelling again, I made a Paris ring. Then Amsterdam, then NYC, then I got orders for Edinburgh and Boston. Now I don’t take custom orders, because I want to have control over what I make.
What’s your favourite city and why?
Maybe it will sound a little presumptuous but when I receive a new printed model, it becomes my new favourite city! And it happens with every single ring!! My favourite city on earth? I can’t name only one. My heart belongs to Saint-Petersburg, Russia, New York City, Haifa in Israel, and San Francisco – my latest love!
What is the process you use to make the rings?
First of all I decide which city I want to make next. I try to mix US cities with other cities in Europe and Asia. Then if I’ve never been to this city I google iconic buildings, read wiki about architecture, learn about the city through travel guides and watch Youtube with cityscape views. Then I make 3D models on my PC at home and order 3D printing of the first prototype on Shapeways.com. When I receive the prototype, I check the quality and if I like the design. If necessary I make amendments. When I am completely satisfied, I put it on sale and start to make whole range of sizes. It is challenging too, because it’s not possible for me just to stretch the model – I need to add or remove buildings to keep proportions correct.
What are the best stories you have heard about the rings from customers? I personally want one for an engagement ring!
Haha, the city rings are popular as engagement rings! But the most popular reasons are falling in love, wedding day gifts and living for some time in that city. So the main idea of city rings is to print your memory. Or often I read stories from people, who were born in those cities, but were forced to leave their motherland and really miss it. I find this really touching.
The rings have been a great success – do you have plans to expand the range?
Yes, sure, I have plans for over 50 cities!!! I want to “build” during this year, also I will tell you a secret, I’m going to make earrings with buildings and city pendants!
What are your plans for 2016 and beyond?
I have a lot of ideas and plans, but I would like to keep it a secret 🙂
Thank you Ola, I can’t wait to get your Paris ring for my birthday! Shop the rings on Etsy – rings come in a wide variety of sizes and materials.