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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!

©Wendy Brandes. Photo by Squaremoose.

©Wendy Brandes. Photo by Squaremoose.

©Wendy Brandes. Photo by Squaremoose.

©Wendy Brandes. Photo by Squaremoose.

© Wendy Brandes. Photo by Squaremoose.

© Wendy Brandes. Photo by Squaremoose.

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 it is priced accordingly.  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. Click here to purchase.

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.

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83 Responses to “Jewel of the Month: The Hen in the Egg”

  1. Marian says:

    Stunning craftsmanship darling! I love hearing the story behind a design.This one is stunning. A true collectors piece,wonderful wonderful design!
    Kudos to you Wendy on this piece. It is exquisite!
    I look forward to more posts on your work.

  2. Liz says:

    I would die to own this, it is one of the most beautiful things I have ever seen. The idea alone is brilliant but the execution makes it exquisite.

  3. dreamsequins says:

    I love the idea of this necklace– so clever! As for budget– I’d definitely fall into the range of “something for everyone.” Everyone– that’s me! But I can still admire and ooh and ahh through the glossy window.

  4. I love that your necklaces always seem to have a hidden quality in them.

    There was another necklace that had a pop up animal or something too.. NO WAIT, it was the locket that you could put scented cotton balls in.

    Love it.

    P.S. I am a totally new blogger, and I’d love for you to come by and check out my blog!


  5. pretty face says:

    Wendy, I’m sure you don’t need me telling you this, but this is amazing! As you said, wearable art, it reminds me of sculpture. And that article you linked to with the interview – fascinating. I only wish you could do a post like this a week! xx

  6. drollgirl says:

    this is beautiful! and such lovely craftsmanship!

    and i am so picky that is probably best if i buy my own jewelry. always. hahahaha. nobody will get it right except for me. if only someone else would pay for it! 🙂

  7. indigo says:

    this is wonderful. You are so so talented. I love the mechanical qualities of your work, it makes them so much more special than just a charm. One day, one day I will save up enough money and will buy that acorn necklace.

  8. Cammila says:

    Beautiful, glamorous, and of course, clever. So WendyB. 🙂

  9. Silly me: I can’t remember whether I’ve commented already, though I do know that I read this post last night. Terrific, fun idea and impeccable execution. The lucky people who own this piece will be thrilled . . .

  10. Omigod, I LOVE the surprise of the bird inside! What a fantastic design!

  11. I. Grace says:

    What an impressive craftsmanship on this from the egg to the hen and down to the 3 cute little eggs!! Whoever is the lucky (and RICH!) lady (or guy) that ends up with this will surely treasure this forever! =)

  12. Jessica says:

    I’m totally in love with this necklace!!its soo delicate and charming at the same time* impressive!


  13. Kristin says:

    I had no idea the crazy amount of work that goes into your amazing designs. They truly are art. And I love that there are such personal stories to accompany the pieces!

  14. Liv says:

    oh my gosh that is the cutest little eggy and chick i’ve ever seen. how adorable. i just love the concept and the execution is flawless.

  15. Natalie says:

    I really love these pieces! sooo cute 🙂



  16. Very witty indeed!
    Love it

  17. Beautiful as always. I have got my eye on that genie as well…

  18. Winnie says:

    See, this is what I love about your jewellery. I love how they are never quite what they seem.

  19. kirafashion says:

    Oh Wendy!
    How sweet is that!
    It is so cool, I love the whole concept…you are an artist!

    I am your fan!

  20. Ela says:

    Oh Wendy, it’s gorgeous.
    Definitely wearable art!

  21. […] looking for a unique and witty luxury piece, it can be yours for $9500. Read the story here and make sure to check out Wendy’s other mechanical jewelry creations on her […]

  22. Gem Fatale says:

    Wendy that is absolutely fantastic! Well done.
    I can’t wait to see your bargain version!!

  23. Love love love love love love love love love… x infintity!

  24. nora says:

    this is pretty! i love it

  25. Genius!! I can’t believe how awesome this necklace is!

    Your jewelry is just so smart, with lots of stories, details, history and humor – I love it.

    Not only do you still not know if the chicken or the egg come first (did the chicken come first so that it could be inside the egg? Or did the egg come first because that’s what you see first?) – you still get a the bonus detail of it being a golden egg. Can’t get over it!

    And I’m looking forward to seeing that hen necklace!

  26. Sher says:

    Clean classic formation. At first glance it appears contemporary. But like all women, we have a little secret inside 😉 Love the details WendyB!

  27. Stef M says:

    Love the new feature! And great detail on the hen. Cute!

  28. Brigadeiro says:

    Ooh! That egg is just too cute!!!

  29. vintageyard says:

    That is really a awesome design. The egg looks so pretty. That is a creative thought for necklace. Wendy you are rocking….

  30. Vivian says:

    OMG – That necklace is just exquisite craftsmanship and design! A true work of art!

  31. […] Limited edition Hen in the Egg by Wendy Brandes […]