Walter Crow is a brand named after a man with a story. A completely made-up one.

Oh, well we like a bit of creativity, and the fact that Crow’s first collection of jewellery, Initiation, takes inspiration from the crude tattoos done within Russian prisons in the early 1920’s.

The symbols used are based on ideas that can be found in the old regime when the criminal code of the Vory-v-Zakone (thieves-in-law) was rife throughout the Russian prison system. The Vory were a small brotherhood of criminals who gained control in the Soviet forced labour camp systems leading up to World War II.

Members of the Vory communicated verbally using fenia, the language of thieves. Visually they used an intricate system of tattoos to provide a visible sign of belonging. Due to prison conditions, artists were forced to improvise with methods and materials. Ink was often made from burnt shoe heels and urine, while insertion was made with nails or razors.

Crude permanent markings on the hands were used to show rank when clothed. The complex system of ‘finger ring’ tattoos explored in this collection can be used to indicate the time period served, types of crime, position within the group and location of imprisonment.

The Initiation range of rings have all been crafted using oxidised sterling silver, black onyx and black diamonds.

Read Walter Crow’s [made-up] story, and shop, here: www.waltercrow.co.nz