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The Protective Charm of Diamonds
UA Collection, created by Tetyana Kondratyuk, is a gorgeous set of jewelry in which motifs from traditional Ukrainian embroideries have been used. Tetyana Kondratyuk has been interviewed by Marysya Gorobets.
“It is the beauty and traditions of my native land that inspire me to create jewelry which, with the help of diamonds, rubies and sapphires protects the wearer as a charm, carries a profound message and brings love, wellbeing and health…” Tetyana Kondratyuk.
Traditional Ukrainian embroideries which adorn decorative towels, shirts and many other items of everyday use are rich in symbols which have come down from time immemorial. Some of these symbols have been adequately deciphered, others remain enigmatic. What is clear is that in the stylized flowers, animals and ornaments of the embroideries some of the ideas of our ancestors about love, death, native land, divine powers and so much else have been encoded.
Tetyana Kondratyuk has used precious stones and embroidery motifs to get the message of the ages across to us.
Ms Kondratyuk is actually a very busy person — she is a head of the Green Party of Ukraine, head of the All-Ukraine Women’s Democratic Union Diya, co-chairman of the All-Ukraine Public Organization Sluzhba zakhystu ditey (Children Protection Service) and of the All-Ukraine Charity Organization Day ruku dytyni (Give Your Hand to the Child).
Tetyana Kondratyuk is a creative person who provides the Oberig Jewelry House with new ideas. I visited Ms Kondratyuk at her boutique, Oberig, located in downtown Kyiv and was swept off my feet by the beauty of what I saw.
I’ve been enchanted by all these diamonds. It’s hard to take my eyes off all this beauty!
Diamonds are supposed to be enchanting but in my UA Collection they also play the role of a protective charm.
It seems to be a novel idea to create a charm with diamonds.
I hit upon the idea of creating elegant jewelry based on the traditional Slavic ornamental motifs which would carry some sort of a decipherable message at a reception. The dress code at the reception was formal but with Ukrainian traditional motifs, and I felt that my massive coral necklace which I love would not quite match my evening dress — and it gave me a push in the right direction. Why can’t I create a piece of jewelry that would be chic and expensive and at the same time based on the age-old national tradition? I did not have any artistic education, neither was I trained to be a jeweler, but I felt I could do it. My family and my friends supported me in my decision. Besides, there was a company, Art-Vivace, which makes jewelry, that offered its support too. It took me and our team four months to create UA Collection which was based on traditional ornamental motifs — but instead of embroidery we used diamonds.
Now that you’ve made such an auspicious start, what are your plans for the future?
Though the Jewelry House Oberig came into being as recently as last year, we have audacious plans. We plan to “conquer” Russia with our jewelry. Studying the traditional ornament design I have discovered that the Slavic people have a lot of common not only in language but in traditional art too. Now we are creating jewelry collection which is based in design on Russian traditional embroideries. If we are successful, we will move on — to Britain, and then America.
But isn’t competition in the world of jewelry making tough?
Yes, it is, but we are not afraid of competition. Our technologies are at the cutting edge and the artistic quality of our products is very high too. Recently, a representative of the well-known Jewelry House Damiani has given our products a very high assessment.
I’m sure he was captivated not only by how your jewelry looks but also by the message it carries.
I do hope that the message contained in our jewelry has a universal appeal. We do put a profound meaning into every piece of jewelry we create. And every peace is unique. I believe that the symbols we borrow from ancient ornament designs have a mysterious energy in them. We did study ancient ornament designs very thoroughly, we engaged the best ethnographers from the Center of Ukrainian Culture Muzey Ivana Honchara who specialize in this sort of things. A square in a square, for example, is a symbol of stability, and it is present in the design of almost every traditional Slavic decorative embroidery. Our ancestors must have wanted stability in such things as happiness, health, wellbeing and love.
I can see that you use various precious stones in your jewelry but diamonds seem to predominate.
The diamond is a very powerful stone, and it has a lot of energy in it, so using this stone for our jewelry which is designed to be oberigs (oberig translates as “the one that protects”) we put a lot of protective power in it. The words adamant and diamond have in its root the Greek word which means “the hardest”, and we use this quality for our oberigs.
We import diamonds from Belgium and arrange them in our jewelry in accordance with the traditional Ukrainian decorative embroidery designs. In fact, the backside of all the pieces of our jewelry looks like as though it were the backside of a piece of real embroidery. We use the Swiss-made pave to hold the stones in place and this technique makes it possible to hold close together as many stones as we need. If you run your finger over them, you will realize how smooth the surface is!
It means that wearing your jewelry a woman is not in danger of accidentally ripping or scratching anything!
I couldn’t help noticing this bracelet…
It’s a pride of our collection. It took seven thousand precious stones and a month of work to create it. I do not think there is anything like it in the whole world. We may find ourselves in a book of records some day.
Do you have any plans to show your jewelry at fashion shows?
Yes, we do have such plans. We are planning to present our jewels at a fashion show next April. In our design we combine traditional motifs and symbolism with the latest trends in jewelry design. We use the most advanced techniques of jewelry making – and we create pieces of jewelry that ideally match contemporary fashion. Incidentally, in April 2010, Oberig won its first award at the Best Fashion Award ceremony which was held at the Mystetsky Arsenal Culture Center in Kyiv. Our design was recognized by the leading designers as highly unique in jewelry making in combining visual perfection with profound ideas.
It’s nice that your jewelry will be seen at fashion shows – but does anyone buy your products?
Of course! And we make our best to sell them to those who will be worthy of wearing them! A piece of jewelry really “blooms” on those who are a good match for it.
Were there any pieces of jewelry that “bloomed” in your family?
Yes, I know that there were such pieces. You see, my grandfather was an Armenian prince and there were many pieces of jewelry in the family that passed from generation to generation. They have been lost in wars and revolutions but “the jewels of the soul” have not been lost. It is the spiritual that is cherished in my family rather than material.
Jewelry from Oberig must be very expensive.
Yes, it is — but diamonds don’t come cheap. Besides, the price includes the cost of creativity and labor put into each piece. It takes time to create an outstanding piece of jewelry — and the creators put some of their soul into each thing they create. I do feel happy when I see the finished piece after I’ve observed all the stages of its creation starting from the initial design!
Creativity needs relaxation… What are the sources of your inspiration?
There are three main sources. The first one is my good friends — the singer Mariya Burmaka, the painter Yevheniya Hapchynska, the TV broadcaster Larysa Hubina. They encourage me to develop my creative potential. The second source of inspiration — my travels. I travel far and wide. Now I am looking forward to my trip to India. The third source is nature, water in it in particular. The mighty Dnipro River always provides me with spiritual strength. Since environmental protection is one of my priority concerns, I’ll do my best to protect the Dnipro so that it would inspire the generations to come, the way it did through the ages by its purity and freshness.
Tetyana Kondratyuk (center) with friends
Photos have been provided
by the Oberig Jewelry House[Prev][Contents][Next]