Texas-native Kathryn Bentley spent her post-college years in Brooklyn working at a jewelry showroom and struggling to get her painting career off the ground. The daughter of an architect who grew up in a “sparse, art-filled house” surrounded by Le Corbusier and Mies van Der Rohe, she soon realized that her calling lay in creating purposeful, innovative fine jewelry.
And thus her eponymous collection “Kathryn Bentley” (along with a diffusion line of costume pieces called Dream Collective) was born. Her pieces range from Georgian and Victorian-inspired rings, necklaces, earrings, and bracelets — low-set, high vibrational collector’s items for oddball style doyens who privilege taste over trends.
Eventually she moved out to Los Angeles and opened shop in Silverlake, a minimalist, art- and gem-filled boutique that perfectly expresses her low-key, high concept sensibility. “I feel a commitment to a community-minded store which is why I opened Dream Collective six years ago,” she says. “My focus was to create an atmosphere to feature my favorite artists’ work alongside my jewelry.”
With her jewelry studio in the back of the space, and the front showcasing pottery, Moroccan rugs, custom designed furniture, bedding, and more, it feels more like a well-curated gallery of artful objects than your everyday boutique. “Art is my inspiration for everything,” says Bentley. Here, her thoughts on all things rings.
On Designing Engagement Rings
“The whole process of buying a ring has changed so much. It used to be about buying the ultimate diamond, and the setting was secondary. But my clients are much more interested in a piece that blends with their personal style. They want something they can wear every day. I sell a lot of rose cut bezel-set diamond bands (like this) in a simple setting. It’s very classic and appealing — there is something old and familiar about it.
Designing engagement rings with couples is a very rewarding process. I worry all the time about whether or not I am being of service in me job, and at the end of the day, I know that the answer is yes. I may not be a firefighter or a nurse, but I am creating meaningful objects that are imbued with significance and purpose that last a lifetime.”
On Finding The Perfect Ring For Your Budget
“Even if you don’t have a lot of money, you can find something simple and beautiful. For under $5,000, I recommend a pave and diamond band. My Margaret Ring (first ring in the lead image) is pretty and classic and Victorian-inspired, made cobalt cloisonné. Once you get into diamonds, the price increases significantly. Even a rough cut diamond can get kind of pricey. You can’t assume that just because it has inclusions it’s going to be cheap."
"For $10,000, you can get over a carat. I usually use rose cuts. Aesthetically, I love how they look. I love how subtle they are, and how they’re cut randomly. The facets are always going to be different. Plus, the backs are flat; they have a more masculine, signet vibe and a low profile. I don’t care for things that stand up too high on the hand.
My goal is always to make wearable things that people can wear every day. Jewelry that won’t catch on your sweater, that ultimately blends into your hand and becomes a part of you. A lot of times, rose cut diamonds are old and antique. That’s always a more sustainable way of sourcing materials.
When your budget is over $15,000, you should just focus on a large beautiful stone, like a two carat emerald cut champagne diamond. At this price point, it’s really about the stone. The setting should be simple and secure.”
On Her Design Influences
“Lately, I’ve been super influenced by Georgian and Victorian and older classical designs. I also love the simplicity of the Deco era—all the geometric architecture of that time period is sensational. I’ve recently started sourcing half moon diamonds and baguettes—they’re the perfect way to express deco style.
Jewelry in that era was very clean and strong. My store is the perfect expression of my jewelry. All the design elements are connected—everything from the rings to the furniture to the ceramics I source. My entire background is very minimalist. Growing up, my house was dark and sparse and filled with art and contemporary furniture. My dad was an architect and there was an inherent restraint to everything he did. My goal is always for the room to breathe. I never just want to fill the space blindly.”
“The cluster rings are some of my favorite rings to commemorate birthstones. This ring was created for a friend celebrating her two daughters and her husbands birthstones.”
On Caring For Your Engagement Ring
“There is a misconception that you can wear your ring all the time. This is not true! Take your ring off at the end of the day. You should not expect your ring to last a lifetime if you garden in it, do ceramics in it, work out in it and sleep in it. I also recommend bringing it to your jeweler twice a year to have it cleaned and tighten the setting. Beautiful jewelry requires maintenance.”