Designer Spotlight: Jennifer Benaim

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A brief story of what you do and why you do it.

I create the only known jewellery pieces and artworks of this nature in the world, I developed the application over a 35 year period. The mediums I use for the artworks is 60 million years old Australian gem opal and black glass, they are a wall hanging. The design of an image is etched into the black glass, the etching is then embedded with carefully selected and cut gem opal. My largest piece measures approximately 3 feet long by 18 inches wide and has over 90,000 pieces of gem opal and took 6 months to complete (there is a video on the website of this piece). In the case of the jewellery once again a design is created and the artwork is embedded with the opal as well as a 24-carat gold inclusion placed strategically, usually the eyes or the nose of the piece. The work is encapsulated into a product. The settings for the jewellery are our own designs of 925 sterling silver.

I guess my background was a precursor for my reasons for forging a career of this nature. My father would have best been described as a gypsy, he had a very wandering nature and the fact that we were a large family of eight didn’t really enter into the equation. We were fairly transient and dad loved mining so off we all went to the sapphire fields first and then the opal fields, this was to be the beginning of my fascination with the gem.

How did you get into jewelry design?

The jewellery designing is only relatively new, about 12 months. I have exhibited my artworks internationally for quite a few years now and over the years I have been asked often to create wearable art of the same nature as the artworks, hence the jewellery.

What makes your collection unique?

They definitely will not be found elsewhere.

What are your inspirations?

Life experiences, people, situations.

How are you making a difference in your life?

I guess my work is very much a huge piece of my life and it makes a difference to the person I am.

What's something unusual about you that makes you “you”?

The work is an extension of myself and because it is “different” this also makes me “unusual”

What's the biggest struggle in running your jewelry business like a business?

Time, time, time, there is never ever enough hours in the day…. Fortunately, I have heaps of tenacity, which has always been a great asset and has created many opportunities for me.

About Jennifer

Jenador (artist name) was born in Melbourne, Victoria, Australia, in 1956. She now makes her home in Bendigo, Victoria.

Gem opal jewellery and artworks of this style are a unique form of art exclusive to Jenador.
As a child, Jenador’s adventurous father bestowed a transient and sometimes precarious lifestyle upon his large family.

Living for a period in the intractable opal fields of Australia, Jenador learnt to mine opals and became involved in the rare art of etching a design into glass and embedding the design with carefully selected gem opal.