Friday, September 24, 2010


Located in the Netherlands, sits a 61-year-old garden, Keukenhof Garden, situated between the towns of Lisse and Hillegom. Located on 70 acres, the allotment is populated by narcissi, daffodils, tulips, and hyacinths. The Netherlands is also home to featured jewelry designer Evelien Sipkes.

It is always nice to see timeless and classic jewelry but sometimes I just want to see something a little more unpredictable and avant-garde.

When you talk about explorative jewelry design no one better exemplifies a non-conformist approach than Dutch designers do (and I mean that in the best way).

Such designers as Sasja Saptenno, Thea Tolsma, and Joke Schole respectively incorporate rubber, porcelain or wood veneers in designs that boldly go against traditional fashion jewelry.

They create vivid, distinct items that actively challenge perceptions of value and beauty. This fearless approach, the joy of experimentation is what I appreciate about contemporary jewelry.

An alumna of Holland’s Hoge School voor de Kunsten, Sipkes relies on systemic, natural surroundings to fuel her unique aesthetic. “It’s amazing how mathematically composed these structures are—just think of sunflowers, corals, the marrow in bones—while they tend to look so organic.”

Sipkes keeps an intriguing palette of materials at her fingertips to help create jewelry reminiscent of rolling tumbleweeds or a thick mesh of vines. Wooden beads, embroidery thread, hemp rope, crystal beads, tulle fabric, and cotton rope are a few of the materials she enlists.

I would imagine that some materials, like steel thread for instance, would require her to test their properties to learn what designs they are best suited. I like the aspect of play allowing whatever happens to happen.

Sipkes’ Natureluurs Collection pays homage to three of the four elements: earth, air, and water. The way she captures the essence of each one is fabulous. I love the combination of earthy colors and textures.

Her Cloud Necklace is a bulbous, puffy assortment of off-white silk and cotton rope; her Sea Necklace is a striking combination of thin, cascading strands of blue and blue-green twined silk and hemp rope; and the Earth Necklace is like a rust red and brown explosion of tiny, swirling leaves fashioned from hemp rope and silk.

As is the case with most contemporary jewelry items --composed of unconventional materials—they will often lack conventional beauty. However, that by no means suggests the items are not without an aesthetic appeal.

Granted, Sipkes’ pieces do not have the lyrical beauty of Danish designer Alidra Alić’s but they do possess a similar element of surprise.

The arrangement of a necklace made of pork bones (see bottom left photo) and linen is so striking I honestly did not think about what the piece’s composition was.

While I have no idea where I would wear her jewelry, I do appreciate the creative risk she takes by remaining true to an artistic vision that is hands-down unforgettable.
Photo 1 (top right): Silk, Velvet and Zinc Red Coral Necklace on Model
Photo 2 (center): Silk and Hemp Earth Necklace
Photo 3 (bottom left): Pork Bones Necklace on Model
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