“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
“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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.