The work of the goldsmith and jewellery artist constantly reveals influences of nature in jewels. Faberge’s eggs, made to commemorate birth, life and reconciliation are an obvious example. The sprays of flowers that were so popular in the 1950’s and 1960’s, bringing the garden indoors, add sparkle and glitter to any occasion.
We regularly see genuine pieces of nature in jewels, too. We refer to these as “organic gems” and they are actually the product of nature, used as jewels or as gems in jewellery.
Pearls are probably the first gem ever collected: Smooth, shiny things that came right out of an oyster, ready to wear.
Amber is fossilized resin from pre-historic trees. It’s been collected around the shores of the Baltic Sea for centuries. It is at its most interesting, and far more valuable when there are other elements of nature in jewels of amber; insects or plant material, or even small lizards. These inclusions aren’t found in other gems, and make amber quite unique.
Coral is a beautiful jewel of nature, most popularly in red, orange and pink colours. Coral provides an excellent accent to jewellery and also stands on its own very well as beads or carved gems.
There are also many realistic or fantastic representations of nature in jewels, a favourite at auction is animal shapes, either domestic or wild animals, or mythological creatures. The Cartier Panther, a Van Cleef & Arpels lion, dolphins, or the articulated fish on grandmother’s charm bracelet. These are all animal forms found regularly in jewellery. Dragons, gryphons, and unicorns are among the fantastic creatures seen in jewellery.
Cats are often seen in jewellery, from domestic large-eyed kittens to dangerous lions, they cover the range from cute to daunting. “Man’s best friend”, the dog, is represented in jewels regularly, whether a charm of our favourite pug or a hunting dog represented carved in intaglio in an Essex crystal. Of course, we also see real dogs wearing jewels sometimes. Which self respecting lap dog would turn down the offer of a diamond collar?
Birds are very common representations of nature in jewels. Perhaps symbolizing freedom, or simply because some of the most beautiful and elegant creatures on the earth are birds, winged creatures are often seen flying through the air below our ears, or as pendants on a chain, or as brooches.
Branches and leaves embrace our wrists, fingers, or collars regularly. Tendrils, vines, bunches of grapes are common themes, bringing elements of plants in nature to our wardrobe of accessories.
Often the elements of nature in jewels are more subtle, and are only representations that leave an impression of nature without a direct reference to a plant or animal. These inspirations are probably the most common, and are among the most inspired designs around.
Nature is all around us, so it isn’t surprising that jewellers find themselves being influenced by the beauty of it all.