Wednesday, November 11, 2020

The Ring is the Thing, A Few Minutes With Mark Gold

I first met Mark Gold in person at the last BaselWorld in 2019. Needless to say, he makes quite an impression, as do his designs.  He was kind enough to spare me a few minutes recently to talk about his latest collaboration with James Thompson (the Black Badger).

Courtesy of the Black Badger and Mark Gold

So before anything else, tell us about this new ring, the Stars n Stripes High Roller. You and James (Black Badger) Thompson collaborated on this, correct? 

Yes the new ring which was released right during the middle of the US elections actually had nothing to do with the elections at all and was purely coincidental timing. 

The ring and box were a collaboration in design and the manufacturing all took place in South Africa in our laboratory. The various components were made from a combination of aviation grade superalloys, anodised to the relevant colours (blue and red) and then assembled around a surgical grade stainless steel core which allows the mechanism to move freely. The ring then went to James in Sweden for him to add his magical glow. The result is great

Can you tell us how this project got started?

Yes that's an interesting one ... 
Obviously during lockdown we concentrated quite heavily on connecting and reaching out to people including fellow designers. Zoom calls became the norm for a while and we made some good contacts and met interesting people. Much of our work is with James ... aka Blackbadger. He has a great personality, is well connected and really good at what he does so some doors started opening for both of us.

And the ring is for someone a few people out there might have heard of - Arnold Schwarzenegger.  How did you and he get connected?

We made a ring for a personal friend of James and he loved it. Turns out he is a personal friend of Arnold Schwarzenegger who saw the ring and asked if we could make him one too. "Hell yeah, anything for Arnold". The man is a legend in so many ways.

And this is not the first celebrity to put a Mark Gold creation on his finger, can you tell us about the ring a certain Avenger has been spotted wearing?

Again, a total collaboration with James and I would probably say that RDJ was the first really big name that we made a ring for in our collaborations.

Tell us about how you and James Thompson came together

Honestly, that's a crazy story ... I mean here are two guys on opposite sides of the planet (Sweden and South Africa) doing similar things but coming from completely different angles, who get connected on Instagram via a mutual friend, and start chatting. We messaged each other a few times and I remember the first time we spoke which ended up being for like an hour on a WA call, sharing design ideas, design concepts etc. He is a really good guy and knows his stuff. We discussed a small batch collaboration called BLKGLD where we designed, conceptualised and produced and then sold out the entire batch of really cool rings in like two days. Thats how it started and we have repeated it since several times since. It really has been a great success and a ton of fun. The really interesting point for me is how two guys from different continents who have never met face to face, connect and collaborate so seamlessly for two years before finally meeting at Baselworld for the first time in 2019. Welcome to the infinite world of social media.
Courtesy of Mark Gold
You have been out in front of a lot of famous brands before many people were aware.  Can you share a bit of your background/history in the watch and Jewelry business?

I studied traditional Jewellery design at a university in the mid 80's and soon set up my own workshop. Being in Africa, you can be quite isolated from the spotlight but I learned a lot and tourism to SA really picked up during the late 90's. I was well established locally at that time and catered for many international clients, celebrities etc through my retail stores. 

At the time I represented Cartier and Franck Muller as they were good sellers however, as a designer, it never really sat well with me selling other brands. I sold the retail stores and concentrated on developing our own watch brand and other high end contemporary luxury products. This new journey is really still in its infancy however we are gaining traction and recognition which are vital to what we are doing and establishing oneself globally requires patience.
Courtesy of Mark Gold
And speaking of watches, can you tell us a bit about The Gamechanger?

An absolute passion project and I love every minute of it. I focus mainly on the visual design aspects, packaging and new concepts relating to the brand going forward. The watch is certainly bold and deliberately so. I work with an incredible Swiss technical team who handle the intricate details of watchmaking that they are so good at. 

This really is a David vs Goliath situation however our confidence is high just like David's was ...

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