Sunday, November 8, 2009
Welcome to my latest blog feature: starting with this post, I’m going to be introducing a new jewelry design every month. But that doesn’t mean I’ll be beginning a design and finishing it in 30 or 31 days. Instead, I will be presenting designs that may have taken months or years to finish. The jewel of the month for November 2009 has been in the works since I went to Copenhagen in July 2007.
On that trip, I visited the treasury of the Rosenborg Castle. One of the pieces in the collection is “the hen in the egg.” More of a work of art than a piece of jewelry, it’s an egg that opens up multiple times — think of Russian nesting dolls — to reveal a gold egg, a yolk, a hen and eventually a tiny diamond ring. Faberge made the concept of a jeweled egg famous, but this isn’t a Faberge piece. It’s believed to have been made in Paris.
You know that I love complicated mechanical jewelry, so I was entranced by this egg and knew right away I wanted to do a mini version. Even though I started planning it immediately, I had to finish work on other complicated projects like the “squirrel in the acorn” necklace, which I was inspired to do shortly before encountering the egg. When that was finished last year, I started work on the egg, but these things can’t be rushed. (39thandbroadway.com has posted an interview with me in which I discuss the design process so I won’t repeat all that here.) Any piece with elaborate moving parts may require its own special mechanism — a unique hinge and closure that work specifically for that piece.
A big challenge was perfecting the size and shape of the egg itself. It couldn’t be huge, but it had to be big enough to contain a surprise inside. I should point out that this kind of piece is not stamped out by a machine in a factory. This perfectly shaped, symmetrical egg was originally carved by hand out of hard wax, as was the hen.
Finally finished this month, my tribute to the Danish artwork is a golden egg that opens to reveal a silver hen with diamond eyes — she’s connected to the egg by a short chain so you can’t lose her. The hen then opens to reveal three tiny golden eggs in her nest. The bail (the piece that connects the pendant to the chain) is decorated with diamonds. Behold!
I’ve only made one of these for the time being; when I sell this one, I’ll make another. I don’t know if there will be more than that. This is limited-edition, wearable art and as such, it’s priced at $9,500. I consider this an appropriate piece for people who are passionate and knowledgeable about craftsmanship and are collectors of original art, antiquities and historical artifacts, couture clothing and/or other rarities.
That said, if you’ve read my blog for any length of time, you know that I like to have something for everyone. I have my Genie in a Bottle locket for $1,000 and the Teeny Genie in silver for $50. I know a lot of my gorgeous blog readers and clients think chickens are adorable, so next month — right in time for the the holidays — I will have a very affordable hen necklace. She won’t be in a golden egg but she’ll still be sitting on her nest keeping her three little eggs warm. Stay tuned!
UPDATED TO ADD: I meant to include a link to a Denmark-related book club post about Queen Caroline Mathilde and her crazy husband, Christian VII. And, for those of you who remember my book club posts, I swear they will come back. Very soon.