A medium-sized orange cat named Bento inspires (and supervises) the design and creation of bespoke jewellery fashioned from high-karat gold, colorful precious gemstones and the most lustrous of pearls. After considering other more sophisticated (but not as friendly) names for this enterprise, ‘bento’ emerged as the obvious choice. Add a little ‘extraordinary bling’, and voilà! – you’ve got an identity.
Bento arrived on the scene as a four-month-old kitten wandering an IHOP parking lot about to head into traffic. You know what happened next…gathered into the car, this little guy took one look around, made meaningful eye contact and started to purr. “This one’s special”, said my friend. No kidding.
Bento loves boxes. He spent most of our first few weeks together molded nicely into the rectangular shape of my woven leather in-box. The only thing missing was a little wasabi, a scoop of rice and some sushi. It just seemed natural to name him Bento (弁当 bentō), after the wonderfully creative lunch boxes of my beloved Japan.
It just seemed natural to name him Bento (弁当 bentō), after the wonderfully creative lunch boxes of my beloved Japan.
The Tiger Prince specializes in jewellery boxes and has an affinity for anything shiny and precious. He’s got great taste. He’s also a jewel thief, albeit usually just borrowing this designer’s baubles for a little amusement. Most of the time though, Bento provides the perspective necessary when engaging in creative pursuit; knowing when to look up, stretch, go outside or take a nap. He’s purrfect.
Companion, Traveler, Muse
There are constants in life that, if you pay attention, will inform your purpose without restricting your possibilities. For me, it has always been an affinity for the beautiful and in seeking balance. I love beautiful objects; the essence of a place whether grand or vernacular; that quiet moment of reflection that affords inspiration.
There are constants in life that, if you pay attention, will inform your purpose without restricting your possibilities.
My professional degree is in Landscape Architecture and I have noticed that a number of us who love architecture, gardens and the decorative arts have evolved into jewellery designers; including unexpected greats such as Roberto Burle Marx, John Hardy, Coomi, Zaha Hadid, Mish and others. Perhaps this stems from the rich history of garden inspired jewels and jewel-box gardens. With jewellery we can forge lasting parterres of boxwood in gold and emeralds; like Lilliputian gardens set in stones. We understand the land, plants, geomorphology, and the conditions that nurture the ellusive crystal or the miraculous pearl. We are dedicated to the earth, to habitat, to culture and to place.
With jewellery, we can forge lasting parterres of boxwood in gold and emeralds, like lilliputian gardens set in stones.
My romance with gems begins and ends with pearls, those sustainable organic beauties born of exotic pristine waters. Years ago, I had seen some of the first Tahitian pearls when the culturing of pearls in French Polynesia was just beginning. They were gray, they were big, and I had never seen anything like them! Many years later, my love surprised me with a flawless strand and they have become my signature as well as my touchstone. I have since gone on to study with GIA (Gemological Institute of America), receiving a 2016 Mikkimoto Scholarship for which I am very grateful. Recently I completed the CPAA (Cultured Pearl Association of America) ‘Pearls as One’ Certification. Next step, more travel (always), more GIA education, and more time for design. There is never enough time!
Carolyn Bartoe Pitts, GIA AJP, Pearls Graduate,
CPAA Certified Pearls Specialist
Designer, Explorer, Birder, Coveteur
The story of any particular gem is an integral story of time, place and ultimately one of intention. It is in the eye of the beholder that the gem transcends its story and derives meaning. I am not sure that you find gems, I think that they find you; they catch your eye, they speak to you, they compel you to possess them, they tell you what they want to become.
It is in the eye of the beholder that the gem transcends its story and derives meaning.
It is in this spirit that the gems destined to become the ‘extraordinary bling’ of bento are discovered. Many observers have beheld these stones and pearls along their journey, from the moment the earth and sea reveal them, to the paths they travel before finding their repose. These caretakers provide insight, knowledge, enthusiasm, and support along the way; the best share their joy for what they do and for the beautiful gold and gems they have to offer. These are wonderful people from all over the world whom I have come to consider as treasured friends and trusted sources.
Atelier bento creations are primarily one-of-a-kind pieces that are born from the hint of an idea that takes on a life of its own. The process of gathering materials and envisioning the possibilities always leads to something extraordinary and unexpected. Inspired particularly by natural polished crystals, the most lustrous of pearls and the richness of high karat gold, these jewels are meant to be worn with everything from blue jeans to ballgowns… and here’s a little secret.. girls just want real jewellery! They also want jewels they can feel comfortable wearing every day.
... and here's a little secret.. girls just want real jewellery!
We acquire materials from as close to the source as possible. We favor AGTA (American Gem Trade Association) members who adhere to comprehensive standards of ethics and disclosure. When appropriate, GIA or other Lab Reports may be obtained to verify pearls or stones; particularly for vintage and antique pieces. These international organizations and others also work closely with producers, governments and market makers on issues related to environment, community, disclosure and education.
Atelier bento was established in 2012 after several years of “thinking about it”. In addition to establishing a venue for my work, I am able to present a curated selection of jewels by admired designers and to showcase vintage & antique objets de désire. Here you will find only things that I love and would want for myself; I hope that you will fall in love with them too.
These one-of-a-kind jewels are personal to me, in fact many of them are very hard to let go of. But as someone dear to me once said, …”this ain’t no museum…..” and with that sentiment in mind, atelier bento seeks to create a tailored experience for your acquisition of something beautiful.
These one-of-a-kind jewels are personal to me, in fact many of them are very hard to let go of.
I love getting to know the men and women who acquire and wear my jeweled pieces; understanding what might look good on them and providing the personal service one would expect from a private jeweler. Sales are by consultation, either in person or by ‘virtual appointment’. If you see something you like, please call 520-906-7187 or enquire, we’re friendly!
Sales are by consultation, either in person or by 'virtual appointment'. If you see something you like, please call 520-906-7187 or enquire. We're friendly!
Bento is located in the diverse and beautiful Sonoran Desert city of Tucson, Arizona, in what we affectionately refer to as Baja Arizona or the Old Pueblo (we became part of the U.S. in 1853 with the signing of the Gadsden Purchase). We are Old Mexico and the young State of Arizona all at once, living in a richly layered culture. Tucson was designated a UNESCO World City of Gastronomy in 2015, recognizing the extraordinary living history of our cuisine. The ‘Who’s Who’ of the Sonoran Desert includes mountain lions, bobcats, javelina, coyotes and road runners (beep beep), and some of the rarest birds in North America. It’s hot and dry in the summer (it’s a dry heat) until las aguas, the monsoon rains, arrive; then its hot and not so dry. Winters are glorious. Live music is everywhere. Tucson is home to the Tucson Gem and Mineral Shows each February when the city becomes an international mecca for the trade. There’s no place like home!
bento | extraordinary bling
Tucson, Arizona, USA
Carolyn Bartoe Pitts, designer, etc.
GIA AJE, Pearls Graduate
520-906-7187 | bento.us.com