Professional Jeweler Archive: Innovators 7: Whitney Boin

April 2000

Precious Metals & Bench/Metalsmithing

Innovators 7: Whitney Boin

By rethinking jewelry’s iconic style, the engagement ring, this respected jewelry artist earns his place as an innovator

If a poll were taken to select the most innovative international jewelry designers, Whitney Boin’s name would probably top the list. Boin has won more awards and is followed by more designers and manufacturers than any other jeweler on the scene today. Not incidentally, he has a tremendous following among consumers.

Boin is an innovator’s innovator – he ignores the rules and constraints in which others find comfort. He would rather make something new than merely rework an old solution (no matter how successful). Boin is a risk-taker who also possesses an understanding of design and has a personal style with nearly universal appeal. This innate sense of design, added to his innovative mind, has propelled him to the forefront of the American jewelry industry.

Deconstructing the Engagement Ring

Perhaps his most visible innovation, the Post Collection, grew out of one piece that won a design award in 1988 and has since been recognized internationally. The artist took the simplest concept and added his own interpretation. “I wanted a look that was classical but new, so I deconstructed the engagement ring and reassembled it, assigning different design values to each element,” he says.

He rethought the mounting, considered how the stone was held and overemphasized the prongs to become posts. Instead of hiding behind the diamond, Boin’s prongs are integral to the design. He reconceived the shank, abandoning the sleekly tapered traditional style and introducing a more contemporary, uniformly geometric “doughnut” shape. Boin retained the function of a diamond setting, not the form.

Sometimes Boin’s innovations push hard against the standard, and they always surprise and delight. One notable example of his ease in breaking the rules is an award-winning piece that combined the most precious of gems – diamonds – with the most mundane industrial material – rubber. The effect provokes a reevaluation of “precious” within the framework of his successful aesthetic. Typical of true innovation, the piece mocks the rules and captures the imagination.

Boin also has created fine jewelry that incorporates steel, acrylic sheet, granite, hematite, onyx, aluminum and etched crystal. “I use each material to exploit its natural beauty,” he says. “The material is not as important as the way it’s used.”

Award Winning

Boin has won De Beers’ premiere Diamonds-International Award as well as Diamonds Today, Diamonds of Distinction, World Gold Council and Platinum Guild International jewelry design prizes and was named Jewelers of America’s Designer of the Year. He is the only person to have taken jewelry’s “Triple Crown,” winning for diamonds, pearls and platinum jewelry designs in the same year.

“Award competitions are a way to step out and stretch the boundaries of what is considered fine jewelry,” says Boin.

He also has won awards for his trade show exhibits, product designs and graphic designs. And he’s a leading figure in the jewelry industry – as one of the original seven members of the American Jewelry Design Council and as a founder of the new International Jewelry Design Guild.

Whitney Boin is someone to watch. Three steps (or more) ahead of the crowd, his work is a harbinger of future international style. If you want to know what the mainstream will strive for in five years, look to see what Whitney Boin did last year.

– by Alan Revere

Alan Revere is a master goldsmith and owner/director of the Revere Academy in San Francisco, CA.

Whitney Boin’s Post Collection deconstructs the traditional engagement ring, reimagining it in sleek, contemporary ways.

Copyright © 2001 by Bond Communications