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LUXURY DESIGNER: KATE McCOY

 

Australian diamond grader, gemologist and jeweller Kate McCoy  is known for her outstanding pieces. Her jewellery has graced the red carpet at the Arias, the Logies and the Cannes Film Festival. She only works with precious metal and hand-picks every precious gem and diamond, sourcing both in Australia and overseas. However, it was when she went to stay at Bill Bensley’s Shinta Mani Wild, Cambodian retreat that a whole new kind of inspiration struck.  Inspired by her time at the retreat, the bespoke jeweller designed a special collection for Shinta Mani to raise money for Wildlife Alliance environmental protection. Buying any of the pieces will protect Shinta Mani Wild's surrounding forest and its wildlife for a certain number of days. For example, buy the18ct gold and diamond Bamboo Collection earrings and you protect 100% of Shinta Mani Wild forest and its wildlife (843 acres) for 63 days 
 

 


"There she was, a fine, elegant, luminous sight to behold, radiating from the green, gracefully extending in front of me the most delightful purple orchid. What a breathtaking flower, what a delight. In this moment I knew I must make her an immortal jewel". 

We love your description of the walk that inspired the Amaranthine orchid earrings. What is it about Shinta Mani Wild generally that makes it a muse?

It’s such a magical place. From the moment you arrive and your feet leave platform of the zip line tower, you glide across the tree tops, you are immersed in the present, you feel alive and connected to nature. Its the immersive design of the hotel that is also experience-oriented that makes it a muse.

 

What was is it about Bill Bensley’s design ethos that fitted with yours?

Excellence and a desire to create not just for the sake of creating, create to make a positive impact with meaning. 

How did you come to work together?
We met by chance at Shinta Mani Wild. We got to chatting about nature and design and the important work of Wildlife Alliance. Our values aligned and the creative spark ignited an amazing opportunity for design to support nature conservation in a beautiful and luxurious way through fine jewellery. 

 

What were your most memorable experiences at Shinta Mani?
Going on patrol with the Wildlife Alliance rangers! Which involved clinging onto the back of a motorbike for 5 hours, bumping through the mud and the jungle of the Cardamom forests in pursuit of illegal loggers and poachers. We confiscated chainsaws, fuel cans and animal snares. It was exhilarating to see their courageous work first hand and a privilege to experience the Cambodian wilderness in such a unique and exciting way.
Oh, and Jumping off the 15 meter high waterfall... !

The jewellery sales help raise funds for a good cause. Tell us a little bit more about the Wildlife Alliance.
Wildlife Alliance was founded in 1996 by the amazing Suwanna Gauntlett who has dedicated her life to wildlife protection around the world. Wildlife Alliance has impplemented conservation programs in Southeast Asia, Russia, South America and the Western Pacific.
Bill Bensley and his business partner Sokoun Chanpreda, partnered with Wildlife alliance after purchasing a 350 hectare (800acre) piece of land at a logging auction – ironically to STOP the property being logged to build a mine, in order to protect the forest and its inhabitants.
Shinta Mani Wild and the surrounding Cardamon National Park is an important wildlife corridor home to 54 animals on the International Union for Conservation of Nature’s (IUCN) Red List..
A statistics board at the camp shows the number of various items confiscated and animals saved and is updated daily. To date it includes 1,819 snares removed, 10 fires put out, 80 chainsaws, 1,632 pieces of illegal timber and 4 guns confiscated, 298 illegal fences dismantled, 76 turtles and 7 civet
cats rescued as well as several other species. 
Wildlife Alliance is an incredible organised and well established organisiation that is deserving of every support and donation.

 

You are a gemologist and diamond grader, tell us about the gems you sourced for the Nature’s Treasury, are there any Cambodia gems?
The gems sourced for Nature's Treasury were colour and quality-focused rather than origin focused. I used a selection of contrasting cuts, step and brilliant, to create a balance to the geometry and animate the pieces in a unique way. IN designing the bamboo collection I chose to use Tourmalines and Demantoid Garnets  as their varying shades of green worked well to recreate the lush vegetation of the jungle. Green Zircon, unheated untreated is very rare and its colour is so rich and bright. Zircon is one of the oldest stones. Zircons found in Australia date back to more than 4 billion years old. 
For me, when I design, it often begins with the stone and the rest unfolds from there. 

Do you travel yourself to source the gems you use?
Yes. 

Have other places and countries inspired you, if so where?
I love travelling it is my inspiration and my sanity. 
Namibia, Botswana, Zanzibar, Argentina and Chile - Patagonia, 

 

Apart from Shinta Mani, name three other hotels /resorts you have loved.
Tiger Tops in Chitwan Nepal, Ghengis khan Polo Club in Mongolia, Galoya in Sri Lanka.

Where will your first plane ticket be to when the world opens up again?
Actually I am going to sail a yacht from Sydney to Papua New Guinea where my Dad lives. I won't have seen him for over a year by the time the borders open. It would probably be easier to fly, but much less adventurous and less environmentally sustainable - very Greta Thunberg of me. Papua New Guinea is an incredible place with untouched wilderness, beautiful islands, amazing diving sites and culturally its very rich too.

What other place would you love to design a collection for?
I have so many projects I would like to pursue. 
I’d love to design a collection that supports marine conservation. I love scuba diving. The ocean is a magnificent muse, so many jeweled colours and incredible creatures. Working with an eco-resort that has a marine conservation focus would make for an ideal partnership. The ocean like our forests is so important to our environments balance. The ocean actually absorbs carbon produces more oxygen than the Amazones by way of micriscopic plants called Phytoplakton and in turn regulates our weather and land tempreatures with its warm and cold water currents. Its truly vital to life on earth.
Being an Australian designer and having grown up in the Australian wilderness, I have a strong connection to the land. The bushfires have devastated unimaginable quantities of wildlife and sadly we have another dry summer season ahead of us. California is already experiencing another onslaught of fires. 
I’d like to create an Australian Botanicals Collection with a % of profits going to Australian wildlife and bush regeneration organization.

Nature's Treasury collections can be viewed and purchased on www.naturestreasury.com.au

For those purchasing the jewellery, Bensley  will offer a special discount on a future minimum 3- night stay at Shinta Mani Wild of 10% of the purchase price (excluding VAT), valid for 24 months from date of purchase 

 

 

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Posted 18/09/2020
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