Taking its inspiration from Mother Nature, Gemporia Head of Design, Sarah Bennett, tells us about her latest collection.
Nature never ceases to amaze me. When I look at the dewkissed snowdrops, or the blooms of cherry blossoms bursting from their buds, I love to find ways to combine these most extraordinary gifts of Mother Nature – beautiful blossoms, feathers and leaves, with the treasures she has buried beneath our feet. That’s why the new Natura Couture Collection is so close to my heart.
One of my favourite places to design is in my garden. We’re lucky enough to overlook a river and I can sit outside and sketch, or use my laptop to create designs, away from the hustle and bustle of our busy household. I’m always inspired by my garden – by the tranquillity of birdsong and flowers, and after rain, the violent rush of water cascading over the nearby weir, taking with it twigs and branches, with the odd swan battling against the current. This wonderful combination of the peace of Nature and her extraordinary power fascinates me.
The enormous store of energy within the Earth, the powerful forces which create earthquakes and volcanoes, and that throw water over our weir, are the same forces that create the gemstones we love so much, with all the intricacy of their beauty. At the same time, the little things found in Nature fascinate me too – from minute downy feathers on the ducks on our river, to the stamen on the smallest flower, to the veins on the tiniest leaf.
For the new Natura Couture Collection, I have chosen to focus on these intricacies of Nature, relishing the fine details of the designs, as well as the textures of sterling silver.
Where usually I would start with the gemstone and work the design around the stone, in this collection I have started with a natural object and designed around it. I have used gemstones to accentuate the designs and to highlight contours.
Nature-inspired design has been taking centre stage on catwalks around the world in recent years, but I’ve taken my cue from the Art Nouveau movement, one of my favourite design periods. I’ve focused on curves and movement, capturing a moment – as the sun kisses a new leaf at first light, for example – and casting it in solid silver to create a lasting beauty.
Feathers have been important in spiritual and religious beliefs in various cultures around the world, most famously perhaps, to the Native Americans. Symbolically, they represent ascension and the spiritual evolution to a higher plane. It was believed by cultures as diverse as the Native Americans, Celts and Egyptians, that wearing feathers would enable communication with celestial spirits.
The exchange of flowers as a token of affection is a tradition dating back thousands of years. Over time, hundreds of flowers have had meanings attributed to them. The Victorians were particularly fond of giving posies of flowers to convey secret feelings. These were then carefully pressed and treasured. Some of the most famous symbols include red poppies for remembrance, red roses for true love and daisies for innocence.
TREES AND LEAVES
Forests are the places of spirits, of wildness, of fairy tales and refuge. Trees are sometimes used as a metaphor for life itself – used in phrases such as the ‘Tree of Life’, ‘family trees’, or ‘putting down roots’. Trees represent continuity, strength and steadfastness. Leaves, on the other hand, are often used in the opposite way. Leaves represent renewal, change and new life. When we want to make a change in our lives, we ‘turn over a new leaf ’.