Benjamin Posin describes himself as a “rather simple” T-shirt and jeans type of guy. He loves clean lines, solid colors, stripes and hats – lots of hats. But the jewelry he designs is anything but simple; his designs are extremely innovative. Benjamin is the owner and designer of Portland’s Sticks & Stones Accessories.
After graduating from high school, Benjamin was given the opportunity to become an apprentice to a goldsmith in Baltimore. “I enjoyed making jewelry so much I decided it was what I wanted to do for the rest of my life,” Benjamin says. He earned his degree at the prestigious Gemological Institute of America.
Sticks & Stones offers a variety of jewelry, including wooden-based rings, necklaces, cuff links, tie bars, tie clips, bracelets and earrings. Benjamin is inspired most by nature, colors and weather, which are visible in his designs. He uses natural, repurposed materials, such as exotic woods, fossilized shark teeth, dried bones, antler sheds and shell materials.
In the five year since he started it, Benjamin has already accomplished so much with Sticks & Stones.. He collaborated with Portland designer and winner of Project Runway Season 11, Michelle Lesniak. For one of her fashion shows, Benjamin designed jewelry using 100-year-old porcelain doll limbs that were buried behind an old doll factory in Germany. We can expect to see and hear a lot more from this “rather simple” (and rather creative) guy.
Can you tell me about the beginnings of Sticks & Stones? My best friend and former business partner here in Portland wanted to make wooden jewelry so he came to me for help since I had the jewelry background and skill set. We decided to partner up and get to work. My current partner, Marc Ishida, joined the team with his marketing and computer background, which tied everything together. The support we have gotten from our friends and the community has allowed us to do what we have done.
Walk me through the design process. Starts with an idea, a sketch and confirmation it’s a realistic design to produce. If we feel that the design meets all our criteria of wearability, durability and style then we move to the prototype phase in which we create one model that meets the standards of the original idea. Many designs take several tries to get just right and some designs transform completely from the original sketch.
Your designs are very gender neutral. Do you keep that in mind when designing? Yes, of course. Some styles are more feminine, but it doesn’t mean a man can’t wear them. The same goes for our masculine pieces, such as tie clips and cuff links, which can also be worn very well by women. Thus, 100 percent of our designs are unisex.
Does Portland help inspire your jewelry designs? Absolutely, it inspires the materials that we are able to get locally in the Northwest. With the seasons changing and the fashion forward people here in Portland, we are able to match the Northwest flavor while continuing to be innovative.
What’s the story behind the name, Sticks & Stones? During a conversation with a very close friend back home while brainstorming names, the old saying “Sticks and Stones may break my bones but names will never hurt me” came about. Completely random, but that’s when it all clicked and the rest is history!
What’s your favorite piece in your collection? My personal favorite is the Fossilized Megalodon Shark Tooth, estimated 10-20 million years old, set with a black diamond and 18K yellow gold bezel. It’s a staple accessory in my personal collection and a strong statement piece.
What was the first piece of jewelry you ever made and how have your designs evolved? Most definitely the evolution is evident. My designs, materials and craftsmanship are constantly evolving and changing as I learn new techniques with trial and error and discover new materials. The possibilities are endless within the artist.
Who are two style icons you admire? Frank Sinatra, because he did everything his way! And Michelle Lesniak. She is such a fantastic designer and very humble, proves that if you want something bad enough and you work hard enough you can achieve anything.
What’s the most challenging aspect of owning your own company? Feeling pressure to keep the ship afloat. If I’m not working, things are not getting done and the ship sinks, which is unacceptable. Working 24-7 and needing to balance work life with personal time can be a struggle.
Have you seen a stranger wearing your jewelry yet? Many times I have seen complete strangers wearing our jewelry and it always puts a smile on my face and reminds me why I love what I do so much. It’s great to see the fruits of my labor being enjoyed by others.
What’s in the future for Sticks & Stones? Top-secret information! We like to keep you on your toes with what’s new. It wouldn’t be new if you knew what was next!