With her incredible works featured in magazines such as Vogue, Elle and Vanity Fair, Dutch high-fashion jeweller and sculptor, Bibi Van Der Velden, is injecting the jewellery industry with her jaw-dropping creations. Drawing inspiration from the natural world, Bibi crafts her jewellery designs with unique sustainable materials, including a 60,000-year old mammoth tusk. Her collections incorporate the elements of nature, sea creatures, insects, and the galaxy, which make for bold, intricate jewellery pieces that draw attention from admirers around the globe, with public figures such as Rihanna and Kanye West joining her ever-growing list of admirers.
One of Bibi’s newly created masterpieces, the Memento Mori ring, will be displayed at this year’s Jewels!Hermitage exhibition in Amsterdam. From 14 September 2019 until 15 March 2020, the Hermitage Amsterdam will display 300 precious gems that were worn by Russian high society. The jewels, flown in from St Petersburg, give a fascinating view into the rich history of fashion and jewellery over the past two centuries that have influenced designers throughout the years. The stunning exhibitions gives a bewildering impression of the extraordinary wealth and power of the Russian tsars.
Inspired by the perpetuating theme of life and death within the Russian Court (especially the Romanovs), Bibi crafted the Memento Mori Ring. She explained, “With all the assassinations going on and people creating a faster pace in the cycle of life, I saw there was a big opportunity there.” Radiating a lavish extravagance, the ring covers the entire hand and is designed as a parrot tulip in 18k yellow gold and sterling silver. “Everything during the reign of the Romanov was out of this world when it came to sizing. It had to be something that was big and over the top.”
The flower’s petals are wilting, which again reinforces the symbolic reminder of Memento Mori and life’s inevitable demise. The stem of the tulip in 18k yellow gold is constructed to wrap around the fingers, creating a knuckle duster. Carefully nestled between the leaves of the ring is an egg crafted out of 60,000-year-old mammoth tusk sourced from Russia’s Siberian permafrost – another link to the country. From the egg emerges a man crawling out of its shell, which hints to the theme of rebirth – a contrast to the withering tulip and a wink to the cycle of life.
The pedals are adorned with a variety of small critters: a rock crystal maggot, a gold spider, gold ants, seed pearl eggs, and a gold slug and caterpillar. “I focused on the insects that aren’t the typical insects that you see in jewellery, such as butterflies and bumblebees. They’re the insects that decay and lay eggs.” This, once again, supports the repeating theme.
The Memento Mori ring and her visit to St Petersburg, Russia, sparked further inspiration in Bibi to craft a capsule collection that will launch on November 17th– the date of Catherine the Great’s death. The Memento Mori ring be put up for sale after the exhibition has ended with a price point that has not yet been disclosed.