Swans have held a fascination for me for as long as I can remember; the Bishop of Bath and Wells’ bell-ringing birds often left me enchanted on many a sleepless night, mentally drafting what was to become my first collection. Appearing to glide effortlessly and elegantly with pleasing form, whilst hiding the reality of their massive paddle-like feet that work over-time in weed-encrusted waters. Pairing for life with a minimum divorce rate (what an achievement), both male and female equally share the responsibilities of nest-building and incubating eggs. I can’t help it – I like swans. Watch them for a while and you realise that us humans are not the only ones who try desperately to be patient with our feisty teenagers -and yet, swans achieve this on a diet of pond weed and tadpoles!
The world is full of myths and legends about swans, they have inspired artists, poets, composers and dancers. They’ve become a symbol of fidelity and the swan’s feather (which will sit in water but not get wet) is an age-old metaphor for non-attachment.
It’s probably no surprise that swans inspired my first jewellery collection. The symbolism of their pairing for life fits the sentiment of a jewellery collection perfectly – particularly engagement and wedding rings.
Capturing their elegance and movement in a static form was a challenge that I enjoyed. I aimed to portray the curves and grace by tapering and bending the forms in the most aesthetically pleasing ways.
I chose the unusual marquise cut diamond for a gemstone in the engagement rings.
The marquise cut is rarely seen in jewellery, but it’s story that is as romantic and unique as its three dimensional form. In the 18th Century, King Louis XV of France commissioned a jeweller to design a facetted diamond shape that reminded him of the smile of his mistress, Jean Antoinette Poisson, the Marchioness Madame de Pompadour.
Over time, the marquise cut was refined into the distinctive boat- (or Navette-) shape that is known today. The marquise cut is very flattering on the finger, giving the illusion of a long and slender hand, and I found that it created good negative spaces between the swan’s overlapping necks.
I have done many one-off versions along the swan theme. It is always lovely to make one that is unique. The most recent commission was a swan bracelet set with diamonds for my colleague, Pauline, from her husband! She’s a splendid advert for my work, and I have even seen a swan on the courts of Wimbledon worn by young Bristol born tennis star, Katie Swan!