Chapter 2: The Garden
Our new spring/summer collection for 2020 is called Desert Rose. It tells a story of blooming through hardship, of the softness and openness that represents its own unique kind of strength.
The collection of jewels will be released in various chapters, allowing us to tell a story of all the unique elements that make up Desert Rose in its entirety.
Chapter 2 is a story of the Garden.
The human need for greenery is so strong that across different cultures and climate zones we have found ways of cultivating not only plants that are useful for our survival, but also decorative greenery that adorns our surroundings.
Traditional Chinese gardens involve many stone and water elements, mingling these into horticulture, while Greek gardens also employ stone but in the form of whitewashed walls to reflect the sun and terracotta pots that help the gardener avoid overwatering. The Colombian climate allows for orchids to be grown wild in the garden, while chrysanthemums spill out of every house, garden, and street planter in Vietnam to celebrate the Lunar New Year. Keyhole gardens which were developed in Lesotho are ingenious examples of plots engineered to be able to take in waste and convert it to nutrients, as well as conserve water in an arid environment. In Japan the garden represents in miniature the various features of the landscape: a rock standing in for a mountain, a pond for a lake.
The Neptune Hoops are reminiscent of such a pond, reminding us of the hidden treasures that can be unearthed in the tending of a garden - the little coin dug up by a trowel, the horseshoe revealed beneath a stone. The latter is a personal experience, having grown up in a house with a garden that used to be a stables. It was a joy to find these hidden objects, loaded with meaning and stories that could be imagined, and reimagined over and over. Like our inner selves, which when examined can reveal heretofore unknown depths and delights, the Neptune Hoops are a concealed golden treasure that lies shining in the depths.
Historically, and mythologically, gardens feature heavily in ancient prose and poetry. The hanging gardens of Babylon - whose actual existence is disputed - have nevertheless survived in the popular consciousness for millennia. The story goes that the ruler Nebuchadnezzar II created the tiered paradise for his wife Media who had grown up in the mountains, to simulate the environment of her home.
The poet Samuel Taylor Coleridge gave a subtitle to his poem Kubla Khan, which rhapsodises about the beauty of the greenery that was Xanadu, "a vision in a dream, a fragment".
The Titian Hurrem Earrings are part of a series of items from various collections that are made with a glowing red resin, which is both reminiscent of the tones that Titian used in his painting, and also the chiaroscuro (lit. lightdark) effect he commonly employed, which illuminated some parts of the canvas and is reminiscent of the uncommonly bright glow of the resin when it catches the light. As a part of The Garden chapter, they represent the need for us to find ways of materialising beauty outside of ourselves; in other words to put the beauty we see in the world into objects that exist externally to us. These object will then be viewed and experienced by others, taking on a life of their own. As we wander in the garden or the gallery we are both connecting to the creator of this beauty, and recognising a beauty within ourselves. These creative outpourings, the sharing of beauty, are essential elements of the human existence. Once externalised they grow and develop under the watchful eye of others.
When I was young, I was particularly fascinated by the style of greenery that was imported to Melbourne by immigrants from the Mediterranean. Eldery people usually dressed in all black, had whole forests of plants in their front yards, that looked as wild and natural as though they had sprung spontaneously from the earth, until you looked to the base of the bushes and trees, and noticed that they were all constrained. Little basins of terracotta or swirling painted ceramics were scattered around a paved front garden, being lovingly tended to by the nonne, yiayiades, and djedovi of the northern and western suburbs.
These examples are a lesson to those of us who live in apartments, in cities scattered about the world. We are able to provide ourselves with green spaces in the form of indoor plants that hang from ceilings, perch on windowsills, drape over balcony railings, and otherwise cover every available horizontal surface from book stacks to dressing tables. Personally, my plants are very dear to me, and each one has a story behind it, like the Monstera I have grown from a single leaf I cut from a street-side plant in Naples on a trip there for a Cleopatra's Bling team meeting. There are plants given by friends, and some foraged from hikes in the mountains, or taken from my mother's garden.
The Nazar earrings which draw heavily on aspects of Mediterranean and Eastern culture, are a reminder of our need for connection to culture - to cultivate and nurture our sense of the collective self, and to feel safe and protected while still experiencing growth. Like the plants of a garden, culture must be nourished to survive, with outdated traditions pruned away as the seasons change, new buds of cultural practice developed, and the most dear ways of life kept freshly tended, watered and sunned.
Plants, alongside representing these special memories and relationships, offer us important lessons about the nature of living things. Like our most ideal versions of our inner selves, they are able to grow and adapt to their environments, quick to evolve and turn to the sun when it shows its face. But they also show us the need for nourishment, and the prospect of a dry, slow fading if they are not given the stimulation, nutrients, care and attention that they need. A garden, of any kind, is both a promise and a warning: care for me and I will prosper, neglect me and I will suffer.
The Zenobia Ring features amethyst, a stone known for spiritual cleansing, and a certain magical property. When engaged in tending to my "inner garden", the winding roads of my mind often need the fresh breeze of a moment of meditation, in which thoughts are observed neutrally, and slowed, calmed, and cleared. Amethyst is said to assist in focussing our energies towards the spiritual, and in the Zenobia Ring, is sterling silver, or gold.