jewelry with sparkle and a smile
Last Updated : GMT 05:21:58
Arab Today, arab today
Arab Today, arab today
Last Updated : GMT 05:21:58
Arab Today, arab today

Bibi van der Velden

Jewelry with sparkle and a smile

Arab Today, arab today

Arab Today, arab today Jewelry with sparkle and a smile

Designing unique pieces of jewelry
London - Arab Today

Designing unique pieces of jewelry with mesmeric allure is no easy thing to do. It requires an absolute degree of finesse, as with any other creative work. And there is no one quite like the New York-born, Amsterdam-based fine jewelry designer and sculptor Bibi van der Velden, who has carved out a niche when it comes to very fanciful jewelry.
Van der Velden discovered at a young age that the processes of making sculpture and jewelry are more or less similar. She learned early on that a jewel doesn’t need a body to come to life because it’s a little sculpture in itself. “I learned all of this from my mother who was a sculptor herself and I was always fascinated by her art and the way she worked. I spent every spare moment I had in her atelier, helping her in every possible way and also learning how to sculpt,” she said.
The next logical step that she took toward becoming a jewelry designer was to attend The Royal Academy of Art in The Hague. There she studied the basics of art, before moving to the Florence Academy of Art. “That’s how I became a sculptor and found my way to designing jewelry; at a later stage I learnt goldsmith skills at the Dutch Schoonhoven institute in the Netherlands,” she said.
Van der Velden’s aim while working on her creations is to make people smile. Not only that, she says there needs to be an exquisite fun detail that makes her jewelry items conversation pieces.
“You can see this in a ring embedded in my ring pieces. Those are bigger rings with a small ring inside. Another signature trait of mine is that I always use sustainable and unique materials like the gorgeous design of 40,000-year-old mammoth tusks or real scarab wings. This is what makes my pieces stand out,” she said. “I hope my brand inspires people and my designs accompany them in life by marking their milestones.”
Van der Velden loves to use unconventional materials in her collection as they are truly an inspiration to her. She tries to get her materials from all over the world and each should have a story behind it. “I started to make jewelry by incorporating antiques and objets trouvés that I was collecting into my pieces. I just love the idea of reusing material and follow it meticulously in order to give it a second life in my jewelry. There is always a recurring recycle element in my work,” she said.
She defines herself as someone who loves to travel and almost anything from different cultures influences her and her designs. “I sketch in my sketchbook when I travel and so all kinds of influences can be seen in my jewelry and the materials I use. Most of my pieces come to life because I create them around a specific material that has influenced me during my travels,” Van der Velden said.
Since nature is a big source of her inspiration and because it is something that never ceases to fascinate her, Van der Velden wants her label to be known as a sustainable jewelry brand of the highest quality, well thought-out in details and unique pieces.
Buying jewelry and wearing it is very much an individual’s choice, keeping in mind the occasion they choose to wear it; it is not something that should be dictated by others. And Van der Velden’s take on the people who buy her designs is that they’re looking for something special; they are individuals who understand themselves and want something unique and beautiful to emphasize their own style.
But she wanted to clearly reiterate one thing: “I design for all kinds of women who appreciate my style and designs and choice of natural materials. My pieces have been bought by all types of women with all types of backgrounds and lifestyles. I could never pinpoint a perfect woman as I consider all my customers perfect.”
Smitten by Arab women’s style

jewelry with sparkle and a smile

Van der Velden is intrigued by the culture and history of the Middle East, and feels that women from the region are using jewelry and fashion to express their diversity and dynamism in a great way. “Middle Eastern women have a lot of knowledge of materials used in jewelry, which makes it inspiring to work with them,” she said.
Moreover, having spent some time in the region, her personal experience suggests that Arab women are a little bit more glamorous.
“Western women mostly keep things shy and simple whereas Arab women dare to wear extravagant pieces and I have a high regard for that… I find it quite interesting,” she said.
“I would love to have my pieces more available in the Middle East. A showroom or a nice collaboration with a concept store or department store that shares my values and beliefs on jewelry is definitely on my shortlist for 2017.”
Participating in high-profile jewelry exhibitions is highly significant for all designers as it gives them an open platform where their best work can be showcased. “Since my jewelry is for a certain type of person, I think high-profile exhibitions are events where that kind of person likes to be. They appreciate the story, the craftsmanship and the materials and understand what I’m trying to express with my pieces,” Van der Velden explained.
Her “Mammoth” and “Scarab” collections have remained popular from the very beginning. And she thinks that is because of the stories behind the materials. “The mammoth pieces are made of 40,000-year-old mammoth tusks, found in the Siberian permafrost. The scarab wings are leftovers from bugs that are eaten as a delicacy in Asia. The colors of the wings are incredible and all natural, which makes them super special,” she said.
Her recent “Galaxy Collection” is also making waves. For this collection, Van der Velden used Tahitian pearls, handpicked opals and blue sapphires to express the galaxy around us through different pieces of jewelry. “I have this fascination with Tahitian pearls and their luster and coloring and so I hand-pick every pearl myself. The same goes for the opals. I love the fact that they have a galaxy vibe and coloring going on,” she said.
Celebs take shine to Van der Velden
Not long ago, Van der Velden collaborated with Kanye West who is a big fan of her “Mammoth” collection. Sienna Miller, Garance Doré and Rihanna are also big fans of her pieces. “I think that there isn’t one particular dream celeb. I simply see it as a compliment when people want to wear my pieces,” she said.
Although celebrity endorsement matters to some extent and is great for exposure according to Van der Velden, she never gives her jewelry away to celebrities in the hope that they will wear it.
There is one more praiseworthy project, “Auverture,” which Van der Velden launched along with her husband to make the experience of purchasing jewelry online a memorable one. Though she has worked with many online retailers, she couldn’t find one where she could freely tell the stories behind her pieces. “This was something I really missed in selling pieces online. After all, behind every scintillating piece there is an intriguing tale. We wanted to create a platform where we could share the stories behind the jewelry designers and their jewelry. When people buy a piece, they should experience a lot of different emotions with it,” she said. “This way, we try to give the consumers the same experience they have when buying a piece in a store, and try to exceed this experience with super interesting content.”
In the future, she has plans to unveil many new projects. “I never sit still, so there will be a lot of inspirational collaborations. Of course I will add new collections to our jewelry line,” she said. “Everything about it gives me the energy, inspiration and serenity to live my life in the most meaningful way.”
Alongside the jewelry business, she is also working hard on a new art exhibition together with her mother called “BIBIMICHELE”. She said: “I’m working on bringing in new handmade jackets that I design myself.”

Source: Arab News

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