The first thing that struck me in reading about Lila was the places that she’s traveled, and how each must be special to her. I wanted to incorporate some of those places in the piece but without being too literal. I also saw the project as a way to stretch my design muscles and try some new techniques.
Although Lila’s wedding ring is very meaningful to her, it’s not the fanciest, so I decided that it would fun to design her a bigger, statement piece. A large neckpiece wouldn’t interfere with Lila’s busy and active lifestyle, and it would give me a larger canvas to incorporate more of the symbolism.
Since Lila is a gardener and dedicated to preserving the natural earth, I opted to incorporate a floral theme. Although Malawi is home to a vast number of indigenous flowers, it’s particularly known for its large variety of orchid species. I crafted the flower design of the piece based on the shape of an orchid, using an origami type of technique to give the flowers volume and make them three-dimensional. When I was designing the right side of the piece, I researched plants, paying particular attention to berries since Lila grows her own, and I discovered that Oregon is known for its blueberries. It was a happy accident that I had gorgeous blue sapphires that would make perfect blueberry stand-ins. The Oregon opal serves as a white blueberry blossom. It was a nice way to represent a flowering berry bush without being super literal.
Because it is a large piece, I kept the price and weight of it down by designing it in recycled sterling silver, which would also match Lila’s wedding band. I gave it a slight oxidation to get the piece to a dark gray color, which would make the 18k yellow gold bezels that hold all of the gemstones really pop. I added a spring hinge to the back of the necklace because I didn’t want any superfluous findings. I’ve been playing around with this type of closure and it’s something that I’ve wanted to incorporate into my work. In this instance, it’s more integrated with the design and would make it easy for Lila to put on or remove the piece.
Karin Jacobson is the owner of Karin Jacobson Jewelry Design in Minneapolis.
Click here to read more about the challenge and to access the work of the other designers who participated.