When David Rees and Ronald Anderson launched their line, Ten Thousand Things, 27 years ago, they borrowed its name from ancient Chinese philosophy. “There is a line in the I Ching that reads, ‘From one thing begets the ten thousand things,’ which meant infinite creativity to us at the time,” says Rees. Today that principle still rings true for the East Williamsburg-based pair, whose combined talent and artistic vision in the realm of handmade fine jewelry knows no bounds.
Most recently, Anderson and Rees have turned their attention to hand-cut stone shapes (which they dub “fetish charms”) in a nod to Native American culture—a significant source of inspiration for the designers over the years as their line of contemporary heirlooms (think a dainty cluster of moonstones suspended from a yellow gold chain, or delicate, dangling black Tahitian pearl earrings) has grown and evolved.
While charm necklaces have been a staple in the self-taught duo’s lineup for more than two decades, Ten Thousand Things’ newest pieces offer a modern twist on talismans in the form of custom, hand-cut shapes designed to hang together. Using stones spanning aquamarine to rock crystal and rose quartz, “it’s an opportunity to experiment with volume and shape which is always fun,” says Rees. “The real focus is in carving and shaping these pieces so they transmit light and become magical.
Indeed, materials are a main source of inspiration for the artisans, who both not only design and craft pieces, but also share all business and creative decisions. “For instance, a beautiful stone suggests the pendant it needs to be. Often we are absolutely taken by the beauty of the materials and are compelled to make something out of them,” says Rees, who works primarily with wax, while Ron creates in metal. (“When it is time to make new pieces we meet with our notebooks and often have the same idea of a direction,” notes Rees.)
Featuring rounded, spherical details, the duo’s inaugural collection of totemic, hand-cut works has expanded to include more detailed, carved pieces designed to glow and conduct light. Available at August in October, Ten Thousand Things’ latest pieces include carved leaves and teardrop and dove beads, arranged together on a chain, or available as earrings. “It’s a rare opportunity to realize an effect that you envision but can’t find in the market,” says Rees.