In celebration of Iceland's independence day of 17-June-1944, we take a look at how this majestic, hardy and noble bird has come to embody the Icelandic spirit.
The falcon is an important part of Norse mythology, embodied in Freyja, the goddess of love (among other things).
Freyja is known for her incredible beauty and she has many admirers, not just amongst the gods and goddesses but also amongst the dwarves and giants. She loves jewellery and other fine materials and she has quite often used her beauty to get the jewellery she desires.
Freyja has an unusual gift: when she cries her tears turn into amber or gold.
Another of her gifts is her ability to fly, thanks to her magical cloak of falcon feathers.
From these mythical antecedents, it is clear how foundational the falcon is to Icelandic history and identity.
More specifically, the species of falcon native to Iceland is the gyrfalcon which is the largest of the species, and a bird of prey.
Falconry, or hunting with the aid of falcons, is thought to have originated amongst nomads in Central Asia. From there, the practice spread throughout Europe and the Nordic countries.
In Iceland, specifically, it dates back well into pagan times thanks to the abundance of native gyrfalcons. Thus, it was not surprising that Iceland gained much mystique as the source of the best hunting falcons in the world, which were exchanged as royal gifts. The bird was described as a “king's treasure” and is highly coveted even today.
Prior to independence, a decree by the King of Denmark of October 3, 1903 stipulated that Iceland's coat of arms should be "a white Icelandic gyrfalcon on a blue shield." Later, in 1920, a decree was issued prescribing a special Icelandic royal flag showing an Icelandic gyrfalcon.
The falcon continues to play a role in Icelandic officialdom post independence. Iceland’s Order of the Falcon (Hin íslenska fálkaorða) is the only order of chivalry in Iceland. It is awarded by the President of Iceland for meritorious service to Iceland and humanity, and has five degrees.
(Image source: Wikipedia, User:Alexeinikolayevichromanov )
Drawing from these ancient and modern associations, our Falcon Collection was introduced in 2016 as part of our series of collections inspired by Nordic wildlife.
Other collections in this series include Rafn (raven), Svanur and Cygnus (swan), Lax (arctic char), Nanook (polar bear) and Tuttu (reindeer).
In describing her inspiration for the Falcon Collection, our designer Guðbjörg states: "In many ways, the falcon embodies the Icelandic character: it carries strength and determination. It not only adapts to the forces of nature but also meets them head-on with diligence and determination. Although the wind may ruffle its feathers, the falcon remains dignified."
She continues: "As a design influence, I spent quite a lot of time observing these majestic birds and took their spirit and physical characteristics as inspiration for the collection."
"I don't design with a specific wearer in mind or to be on trend. I aspire to create timeless works of art that manifest themselves in jewellery. That's why many of our designs can be worn by men or women."
"A perfect example of this 'wearable work of art' is the pair of bespoke Falcon earrings I designed for Lilja Pálmadóttir to wear during the premiere of Everest: the Movie, which she co-produced. It was one of the most prominent theatrical releases of the year."
We continue to add new designs to the Falcon Collection. The latest releases include intricately etched medallion charms, pendant necklaces, and earrings.