02 July 2019

Mythic Maker

Written by Published in Design




Icelandic jewellery designer and maker Guðbjörg Ingvarsdóttir marries a love of nature with inspiration from her home country’s ancient mythology and sustainable resourcing of materials

Sublime: Tell us about life in Iceland, and your training as an artisan jewellery designer and maker.  

Guðbjörg Ingvarsdóttir: I love living in Iceland; all my family live here, and my design work is continually inspired by the natural environment of the country.

gudbjorg aurum liturI studied goldsmithing at Copenhagen Technical College, completing my journeyman’s exam in 1993. I qualified as a master craftsman in goldsmithing at Reykjavík Technical College in 1994, then returned to Copenhagen to study jewellery design at the Institute for Precious Metals. I ran the jewellery workshop Au-Art in Copenhagen from 1996 to 1999, in collaboration with others, and in 1999 I returned to Iceland and founded the design and jewellery company AURUM by Guðbjörg.

S: What’s behind the name of the shop – AURUM?

GI: AURUM is Latin for gold, which is known as Au. in the periodic table. When I chose the name I wanted it to be unique, and to represent the quality of the jewellery.

S: Where does the inspiration for your designs come from?

GI: Iceland’s natural habitat gives me endless ideas to work with. I regularly spend quality time out in nature by myself, to recharge. With all the space we have in Iceland, and so few inhabitants, you can always find somewhere quiet. To be passionate about the job is important; your passion gives you drive and energy.

S: What, for you, is the importance of creating jewellery that is ethical and sustainable?

GI: We have resolved to introduce eco-friendly thinking into every aspect of the AURUM brand. For example, we only use recycled precious metals. Our jewellery is made here in our workshop in Iceland, and we make our gift boxes to look like the stones found on the beaches of the Western Fjords, using paper from mulberry trees, which has little to no effect on the ecosystem because the trees are not cut down – the paper is made from the leaves. Many designers in Iceland focus on facilitating cooperation between designers and local manufacturers, sourcing materials that are available within Iceland to create products that incorporate a sustainable element.

In keeping with the brand’s core ethos of making responsible, mindful and sustainable jewellery, each piece is crafted from recycled sterling silver at AURUM’s integrated workshop in Reykjavík. In the past I have used the recycled hooves of reindeer in my TUTTU collection, and I would love to design more jewellery collections that include recycled hooves.

Produc1photoS: Tell us about Rán, the Norse sea goddess, and how she relates to your latest collection.    

GI: RÁN was launched at DesignMarch, Iceland’s annual design festival, in 2019 at our flagship store in Reykjavík. The collection was inspired by the mythical sea goddess, Rán, who is mother to nine daughters, each of whom personify the waves of the sea. Rán’s favourite colour is gold, which she finds in the countless sunken pirate ships on the seabed. The myth of Rán has inspired the use of gold in the RÁN collection, which is crafted in Reykjavík from yellow gold-plated recycled sterling silver.

S: If we had £100 to spend, which piece would you recommend we buy from AURUM?

GI: I would recommend the KOLGA drop earrings with pearls – I love the gold-plated silver ones.

S: Name one of your favourite pieces from the shop, and why you love it.

GI: That has to be the ASTERIAS bracelet in silver. I love the structure and the form of the bracelet, and how it sits tight on your arm. It is inspired by the everlasting cycle of water, that has no beginning and no end.

S: Do you see ethical jewellery gaining more of a share in the market?

GI: Yes, definitely; people are becoming more aware of the presence of ethical jewellery for sale.

S: Are you working on a new collection at the moment?

GI: Yes­ – it’ll be launched in autumn 2019.

S: Finally, what’s your favourite hashtag?

GI: It has to be #inspiredbynature

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