Tatyana Kondratiuk’s talismanic jewels were crafted to instil a pride in her home country, but their messages of love, health and wealth are universalSeptember 30, 2019 By Ashley Davis
When Tatyana Kondratiuk embarked on fine jewellery line Oberig a decade ago, she didn’t possess any prior design experience, but what she lacked in jewellery-making knowledge she made up for in ambition. The Ukrainian designer set out to create talismans that reflected and celebrated her national identity.
“The love for my land, as well as the desire to represent Ukraine on the international stage with dignity, inspired me to create jewellery that would make my country proud,” says Kondratiuk. “Not only that, but also to make sure that her people would enjoy wearing it.”
For Kondratiuk, these patriotic goals translate to jewellery in the form of diamonds and gemstones like sapphires, rubies and tsavorites arranged in patterns depicting ancient Slavic symbols that adorn 18ct gold rings, pendants, earrings, bracelets, brooches and cufflinks.
The effect is a luxurious translation of traditional craft, resembling the pixelated designs of mosaics or embroidery.
A jeweller and a historian
Oberig is an ancient Slavic word meaning protective talisman – a fitting name for a collection abundant with culturally significant emblems.
“With our jewellery, every [aspect] carries a certain meaning that is embedded via a mutual understanding between the artist, ethnographer and jeweller,” Kondratiuk explains. “The meticulous work of each role allows us to create an impeccable product.”
A rhombus divided into four equal sections, for example, represents a sown field, which, since antiquity, has represented new life, a bountiful harvest, prosperity and wealth. An eight-pointed star signifies divine protection and the unity of the masculine and feminine, as well as motherhood. A pair of birds represent true love, loyalty and the right conditions for beginning a family.
Kondratiuk approaches her work with the eye of a historian, creating modern tributes to ancient ideas.
“Having to constantly work with ethnographers and dig through the historical archives, we’ve come to systematically study the treasures of Slavic heritage, and also understand the meanings behind signs and symbols that our ancestors used to talk about love, fertility, health and harmony,” she says.
Slavic symbolism, universal messages
Part of Oberig’s resonance with its clientele today is the universality of these themes, as relevant today as they were thousands of years ago. Oberig collectors wear their jewels as protective armour against life’s challenges and as assertions of personal power.
“Our clients are the people who, first and foremost, care about the meaning behind our pieces,” Kondratiuk says. “For 10 years now, Slavic symbolism, deeply ingrained in each and every one of our collections, infuses the pieces with the history of generations.”
Aligned with her mission to honour Ukranian tradition, Oberig is entirely handcrafted in the country and is sold at the brand’s namesake boutique in its capital city, Kyiv. Kondratiuk says she is most proud of, “radically changing the way that jewellery art is seen in Ukraine”.
Though Oberig is a love letter to Ukranian tradition and culture, its symbolic concepts and refined aesthetic are finding a global appeal as the brand broadens its sights to the rest of the world with appearances at jewellery shows GemGenève in Geneva and The Jewellery Cut Live in London. As Kondratiuk emphasises, Oberig’s main purpose “is protecting your loved ones”, an idea that transcends all cultural and geographic boundaries.
Having to constantly work with ethnographers and dig through the historical archives, we’ve come to systematically study the treasures of Slavic heritage, and also understand the meanings behind signs and symbols that our ancestors used to talk about love, fertility, health and harmony