OPAL FIX­A­TION

“DREAM­TIME BRUCE HARD­ING, IS ALL FOUNDER ABOUT OF NA­TURE,” THE KY­OTO- MUSES BASED JEW­ELLERY BRAND, SPE­CIAL­IS­ING IN OPALS. “IT’S ABOUT TAK­ING VERY IM­POR­TANT STONES FROM PLACES ALL OVER THE WORLD AND TRANS­POS­ING THEM INTO A THING OF BEAUTY, AN HEIR­LOOM TO E

Adorn - - CONTENTS - By CYN­THIA UNNINAYAR

“DREAM­TIME is all about NA­TURE,” muses BRUCE HARD­ING, founder of the Ky­oto-based jew­ellery brand, spe­cial­is­ing in opals. “It’s about tak­ing very im­por­tant stones from places all over the world and trans­pos­ing them into a thing of beauty, an heir­loom to en­hance your life.”

Hard­ing has gone even fur­ther, how­ever, than just mak­ing beau­ti­ful jew­ellery. He ex­trap­o­lates the spir­i­tual essence of the world’s most ex­tra­or­di­nary gem­stones into the cre­ation of mag­nif­i­cent scarves, ties, vests, dresses, fur­ni­ture and the un­ex­pected lin­ings for jack­ets and coats that ex­em­plify and com­ple­ment Na­ture’s majesty.

While not the first to do this, the process and de­sign for­mat of ac­tu­ally util­is­ing the in­trin­sic char­ac­ter­is­tics of the stones is a fresh de­par­ture from the norm. In do­ing so, Hard­ing’s fash­ion line pro­motes his jew­ellery line, and the jew­ellery pro­motes his fash­ion line.

“From the very early days in my jew­ellery world,” Hard­ing ex­plains, “I had a vi­sion that the won­der and bril­liance of gem­stones could also be used in fash­ion and art. Thirty years later, I’m still cre­at­ing fash­ion and art from jew­ellery—es­pe­cially men’s fash­ion, which is usu­ally very plain and stereo­typed.”

De­sign­ing fash­ion for both men and women us­ing vi­brant nat­u­ral colours is some­thing of a chal­lenge. But, as the de­signer says, “When I sell a very im­por­tant opal for sev­eral hun­dred thou­sand dol­lars, and that per­son is one of the very few who will ever see that

stone again, then no­body will be­lieve that such a stone could even exist. By trans­pos­ing it into fash­ion, ev­ery­body can un­der­stand that there are won­drous gem­stones in the world and, al­though you may never own one, you can wear them.”

To un­der­stand just how won­der-filled Hard­ing’s world has be­come, one needs to take a step back in time… “My life be­gan in the out­back of Aus­tralia,” he rem­i­nisces, as his mind drifts back to his child­hood. “The clos­est house was 50 kilo­me­tres away and I rode a horse to school. Even the doc­tor had to visit by plane. My fa­ther was a driller for oil and then later dug for opals, di­a­monds and sap­phires. It was fas­ci­nat­ing to watch the min­ers dig­ging into the earth and com­ing up with the most beau­ti­ful, but elu­sive opals and other gems.”

Some years later, Hard­ing moved with his mother to the United King­dom, “Where I was shown the civilised world,” he smiles. His mother and grand­fa­ther were both artists and in­stilled in him the im­por­tance of art to the hu­man race. The mem­o­ries of the wilds of Aus­tralia, how­ever, were al­ways with this in­quis­i­tive young man who con­tin­u­ally searched for an­swers— about him­self and about the world around him.

He could not for­get or ig­nore the dif­fi­cul­ties that gem­stone min­ers en­dure to bring their stones to the lux­ury mar­ket—to the women and men who ea­gerly dis­play them on their fin­gers, necks or wrists. This jux­ta­po­si­tion formed an eternal bond that is em­bed­ded in ev­ery­thing Hard­ing cre­ates.

“Af­ter the ad­ven­tures of univer­sity,” Hard­ing adds, “I headed to the North Sea and then later to New Zealand to work in the oil busi­ness. I soon re­alised, though, that this was not the life for me and be­gan con­tem­plat­ing a new di­rec­tion.” Out of the blue, one of his close friends—whose des­tiny was to

be­come a fa­mous gar­dener—moved to Ja­pan to study Zen gar­dens. He in­vited Hard­ing to join him.

“My first Zen ex­pe­ri­ence was with my teacher, Okuda Sen­sei, a sev­en­thde­gree black-belt karate master. He taught me how to go be­yond one’s lim­its, how to per­se­vere and ma­noeu­vre to win.” Then, a ki­mono artist took Hard­ing’s knowl­edge of opals and colour to cre­ate a new kind of obi—the sash around the waist—that sold very well. “This made me re­alise that my tal­ent would lie in colour and de­sign.”

Hard­ing then re­turned to his Aus­tralian roots and brought im­por­tant opals into his adopted coun­try, Ja­pan to cre­ate unique jew­ellery. To­day, he melds the time­less qual­i­ties of lux­ury jew­ellery and ex­pert crafts­man­ship with tran­scen­dent de­signs that sym­bol­ise the so­phis­ti­cated aes­thetic prin­ci­pals that are in­trin­sic to all as­pects of our be­ing—both on the con­scious and sub­con­scious level.

“I HAD A VI­SION THAT THEWONDER AND BRIL­LIANCE OF GEM­STONES COULD ALSO BE USED IN FASH­ION AND ART.”

For the name of his new com­pany, Hard­ing chose Dream­time. “In tra­di­tional Aus­tralian Abo­rig­i­nal cul­ture, Dream­time is the spir­i­tual aware­ness that all time—past, present and fu­ture—exist at once. In the Dream­time, hu­man be­ings are al­ways at one with their an­ces­tors. Fine jew­ellery also has this kind of time­less­ness, for its qual­ity and value never di­min­ish. As heir­looms, jew­ellery passes from gen­er­a­tion to gen­er­a­tion, con­nect­ing peo­ple with their an­ces­try: past, present and fu­ture.

“All the jew­ellery we make,” Hard­ing says, “con­tains stones that take a long time to find. It has taken me years to build con­nec­tions with many peo­ple, most of whom are the min­ers them­selves. The opals we use come di­rectly from an im­por­tant mine in Light­ning Ridge, Aus­tralia.” With his con­nec­tion to the mine, Hard­ing has been able to source some very ex­cep­tional opals that are no longer avail­able on the mar­ket.

The unique colour pat­terns and mag­i­cal qual­i­ties of these Aus­tralian black and boul­der opals make each piece one-of-a-kind. The stones, them­selves, are unique and ex­tra­or­di­nary. Hard­ing’s de­signs

cap­ti­vate even fur­ther by adding sprays of di­a­monds for en­ergy and in­trigue. When asked why he sur­rounds the ex­cep­tional opals with di­a­monds, the de­signer replies, “A Monet should not be framed at Wal­mart. And, when you turn the lights off, the opal is lit by the per­fect crys­tals around it—a to­tally un­be­liev­able ex­pe­ri­ence.”

For some of his cus­tomers, Hard­ing’s re­mark­able opal jew­ellery has a far deeper sig­nif­i­cance than just their beauty. Twenty years ago, he cre­ated a mag­nif­i­cent 76-carat opal piece for a Ja­panese client. At that time, she learned that she had only six months to live. She loved the piece and wore it close to her heart, next to her skin. Soon, she threw away all her medicine. To­day, 20 years later, “the woman is still alive, and in­sists that it was the opal that gave her life back, that it is a God-Stone,” says Hard­ing. “And, for her, it is.”

Each new piece from Dream­time, whether jew­ellery or fash­ion, pro­vides non-stop ex­plo­ration into won­der and en­chant­ment, com­bined with beauty and lux­ury. Just as Zen melds our think­ing on both a con­scious and sub­con­scious level, so do Bruce Hard­ing’s orig­i­nal, el­e­gant and fash­ion­able gem­stones.

A silk suit whose pat­tern is based on some of Dream­time’s spec­tac­u­lar opals is mod­elled by Dream­time founder, Bruce Hard­ing. The suit lin­ing con­tin­ues the gem fash­ion theme with white di­a­monds.

The diver­gent shapes of opals lend them­selves to orig­i­nal de­signs set in 18-karat gold.

Sev­eral fash­ion de­sign­ers have re­quested Dream­time’s gem­stone de­signs for their cre­ations, such as this silk dress and hand­bag, de­signed by an Osaka-based haute cou­ture brand.

The salon in Bruce Hard­ing’s home il­lus­trates the va­ri­ety of opalin­spired fab­ric and its many uses.

Opal’s di­verse colour spec­trum in­spires a wide va­ri­ety of pat­terns for both fem­i­nine and mas­cu­line fash­ions.

This ex­tra­or­di­nary 76-carat “God-Stone” opal pen­dant was pur­chased 20 years ago by a Dream­time client, who in­sists that the opal cured her ter­mi­nal ill­ness.

Opal-in­spired silk dress for a fash­ion-for­ward Kan­dide™ doll, with a few of the opals that in­spired the de­sign.

A Dream­time opal pen­dant sur­rounded by sap­phires set in 18-karat gold.

This silk dress was in­spired by a num­ber of Dream­time’s colour­ful opals, in­clud­ing these two pen­dants, set in 18-karat gold and framed with white and yel­low di­a­monds. No two opals are alike so jew­ellery is al­ways unique and orig­i­nal.

Silk lin­ing of a jacket and a match­ing silk tie dis­play the par­tic­u­lar pat­tern of a beau­ti­ful opal that in­spired it.

Opal-in­spired pat­terns are also used in silk home dé­cor such as this colour­ful kalei­do­scope pil­low cover.

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