In conversation with Ana Janezic for MY Fashion Magazine
Everyone who’s ever been to Iceland knows this is a land of amazing landscapes with the purest nature. This nature serves as an endless inspiration to Guðbjörg Kristín Ingvarsdóttir, the creative soul of jewellery brand Aurum. Aurum is known for very feminine and intricate three-dimensional designs that are very personal, as Guðbjörg focusses on every detail to really bring the best out of each jewellery piece. I know you will instantly fall in love with her work because it is much more than an ordinary jewellery line.
Aurum stands for Ambition, Understanding, Responsibility, Unity and Mindfulness. Why do you find this important for a good design?
To be a designer means to be constantly growing and learning and to be patient. It is important to have the right balance in work and life to be able to achieve what you set out to do. As a company we have very creative product development and emphasise on eco-friendly production. By staying true to your core values you have a clearer vision.
What makes the brand unique?
Everything has a story and it is all about how you tell that story. Being inspired very much by the Icelandic nature, all my designs are very personal. I take great care with every detail because I want to convey a feeling or an atmosphere. I follow my own path in jewellery making, I spend a lot of time working with concepts and ideas and allowing myself that time is important to be able to bring a fully formed collection to the market.
Was jewellery design something that always interested you?
I went to high school in Bainbridge Island in the US when I was 18. I stayed for a year and took all the art classes available to me – I didn’t have them at home in Ísafjördur. I took a course in jewellery, too, and fell for it. When I returned home, I started to look for a practical place.
Why jewellery? What is it that attracts you?
The handcraft tradition has always interested me and precious metal gives amazing possibilities. I always think about the human body and its lines. When you make a painting, it goes on the wall. When you design jewellery, it goes on the body. Jewellery should be nice to wear.
You started your label in 1999. How would you say your designs have changed since then?
I would say that through the years I have become more interested in the texture of the metals in my collections. I don´t want to repeat myself so I give myself plenty of time when I make a new collection and push it further if it reminds me of something I have designed before. In the beginning, you could see the nature influences in my jewellery. In my more recent collections it is more about revealing tension, strength, softness or other types of perceptual concepts.
What is your motivation? What keeps you going after all these years?
I love what I do and Icelandic nature gives me endless inspiring ideas to work with. I regularly spend quality time out in nature by myself to reload. With all the space we have in Iceland and few inhabitants you will always find a calm space. To be passionate about the job is important, it gives you drive and energy.
Inspiration… you say you find it in nature. In what way does it inspire you?
We have this fantastic nature around us, with so many things to be inspired by. It is difficult not to be inspired by it. There are endless things to pick out and work with. Stories have also a big influence on me and I like to go deeper into each theme I am working on, with telling stories. When I was a child I read many books, older books from Iceland, telling stories about how people survived in the rough Icelandic landscape.
Do you follow fashion trends with your designs?
I go into my own world when I am making my jewellery. Most of my pieces are timeless and I am still selling pieces from my first collection. I think though it is important to keep up with where design is heading in general and notice the trends around you.
What would you say are the most wearable jewellery trends for this autumn/winter season?
Earrings, you can always put on a nice pair of earrings that fits with rest of your outfit. Big earrings seem to be a trend for Aurum’s clients at the moment and we have a great selection of them in our latest collection Asterias.
What is new from Aurum for autumn and winter?
The story of Asterias. Black terrain. Rhythmical waves. Everlasting cycle of the water that has no beginning and no end. The Asterias collection comes in silver, oxidised silver and gold-plated silver and set with topaz and Swarovski stones. Asterias is a combination of elegant shapes with interesting texture which has been translated from the inspiration of the sea and black beaches in West Iceland.
Is sustainability part of your brand?
Yes, we have resolved to eco-friendly thinking into every aspect of running the company; for example, we only use recycled precious metals and we only buy certified precious gemstones, not the so-called blood diamonds. We make our gift boxes with paper created from Mulberry trees, which has little to no effect on the eco-system because the trees are not cut down; the paper is made from their leaves.
How does this affect the choice of materials you work with?
I source my materials from a company that provides only recycled and re-fined precious metals and conflict-free precious stones. I like to know the story of the company that I buy from. I have also worked with material that is not common in jewellery like hooves from reindeers. The hooves are always thrown away so it was interesting to be able to reuse it and make a piece of jewellery out of it. I would like to develop that concept further for more interesting pieces in the future.
Is all of the jewellery still handmade?
Yes, everything is made in our workshop in Iceland. I think it is important to keep the traditional aspect of jewellery making as it adds something special to every single piece, so you might see a slight detail can be different which adds to the uniqueness of the pieces. I have a great team working with me to make sure everything is made to the highest standard.
How do you unwind after a long day?
I like to take a walk or go swimming in one of our great outdoor pools we have in Iceland with my youngest daughter. I find it rejuvenating to relax outdoors in the fresh air.
Where can we shop for Aurum?
The largest online selection you will find is on our website www.aurum.is and we do offer free delivery worldwide. We are also at Wolf & Badger both in London (Notting Hill) and New York (Soho). Other retailers include Gill Wing jewellery, St Gyles jewellery, Lily Luna and Diana Porter to name a few in the UK.
(Interview originally published in MY Fashion Magazine Issue 18 #107, 2017)