With the line between casual and formal fashion becoming increasingly blurred, designer jewellery is following suit. In Sweden’s capital, jewellery makers are creating pieces that fuse feminine elegance with fantasy and folklore and which, at times, show darker influences.
Efva Attling’s ‘love affair’ with making jewellery started when she was 11 years old. At school, girls and boys switched classes, so that the girls learnt about metal work and the boys could try their hands at sewing. ‘Very soon I found out that banging and forming metal suited my temperament far more than sewing,’ says Attling. After pursuing successful careers in modelling, music and maternity wear, she founded her eponymous label which uses gold, silver and precious stones to explore cultural themes and topical issues, through striking motifs and words. Madonna is regularly spotted wearing the designer’s Homo Sapiens necklace and her pieces have also been selected by Hollywood film stars including Meryl Streep and Sharon Stone.
While many of her collections, such as Rose Petal and Catch a Falling Star, have a pretty, feminine aesthetic, she has created another collection in collaboration with the children’s rights charity Bris which has a harder edge. Here, gold and silver bracelets and necklaces feature horseshoe pendants that are engraved with a strong message, communicating that everyone deserves respect.
Attling also has a fine jewellery line. Her Little Bend Over rings feature stones crossed through with a band that’s studded with diamonds. ‘You can choose from different coloured stones such as aquamarine, morganite, amethyst and rock crystal,’ she explains. While this approach feels resolutely modern, Attling also looks to the past for her work. ‘Fashion is an inspiration, but I look back in time as well. My Viking collection is inspired by my ancestors. This is how they made simple, solid jewellery with a twist.’
Myth and legend
Maria Nilsdotter has a penchant for the irreverent. She studied at the respected Central Saint Martins college in London and just a year after graduating, Nilsdotter founded her own label which firmly places her among the leading young and quirky Swedish jewellery designers. Her creations are made from gold and silver and feature precious stones and pearls. Nilsdotter’s work is instantly recognisable due to the incorporation of imagery from mythology and folk tales. ‘These have been a constant source of inspiration for me. I like contrasts and making something scary or dark into a beautiful piece to be worn.’
Standout pieces include the 4 Moons Knuckle duster – four linked rings in 14-carat gold, with South Sea pearls and a pink sapphire – and the silver Lost World necklace with onyx, opal and turquoise that features the silhouette of an abandoned place. Necklaces and bracelets that spell out phrases such as ‘Hell Yeah’ and ‘Bang Bang’ have also come to symbolise the Nilsdotter’s approach, and the autumn/winter 2015 collection, her largest to date, has been inspired by a shipwreck.
The Ioaku label has been set up by Fanny Ek, whose surname means ‘oak’ in English. Ek, a fashion and accessories designer, launched her debut jewellery collection in 2013 and aims to create art that people can wear. She is inspired by the dynamic between art and nature and consequently her jewellery collections are rooted in the natural world. Volcanos, mountains, meteors and insects are all referenced in chunky statement necklaces and rings. In her Dragonfly collection, an intricately carved dragonfly pendant hangs off a metal choker, while the Vulcanos collection comprises large coloured stones set within chunky silver link-chains. The statement-like feel of Ek’s pieces have led to her work being met with significant industry acclaim.
What these Stockholm-based designers share is the capacity to withdraw into an other-worldly place in order to build their creations, with Nilsdotter in particular being inspired by Swedish folk tales. ‘There’s a lot of research and sketching in the beginning, and that's where I make up the world where the jewellery comes from,’ she explains.
Right now, designer jewellery in Stockholm is a multifaceted creature displaying modern elements, cutting-edge design and magical, mystical allure.