It's not every girl that gets to train beneath one of the most discussed jewelry designers in New York City, but that's precisely what happened to Kathryn Bentley upon earning an apprenticeship with Philip Crangi. Bentley, a San Antonio native that relocated to pursue a design degree from the School of Visual Arts, shared Crangi's affinity for tribal shapes and textures. "Jewelry is like making tiny sculptures," explains Bentley. "I love the idea of the talisman, or the amulet quality of wearing jewelry."
It's true that every piece in Bentley's two companion collections, "Dream Collective" and "Kathryn Bentley Fine Jewelry," seems imbued with special or even pseudo-spiritual significance. Her enormous watermelon tourmaline rings, for example, take on an almost ceremonial grandeur while the more playful "wing earrings" could be appropriate for a younger customer seeking a bit of bohemian glamour.
Bentley's sources of inspiration are as intriguing and diverse as her finished products. "I usually start with sketching shapes, then look at Navajo rugs, Anasazi pottery, and African sculpture to start thinking about textures [to be] reinterpreted into my designs," she explains. A quick survey of the two collections reveals her natural sense of pattern and texture, as in a simple gold bracelet stamped with a reptilian snakeskin pattern, or the long, curving ridges in her giant "urn" rings. It doesn't seem out of the question that Bentley's jewelry might lend some kind of supernatural or protective qualities to the wearer. Even if not, there's no arguing that the effect achieved by wearing one of her brightly-colored amulets or pendants is nothing less than magical.