Whether it’s creating a unique piece of jewellery to mark one of life’s most important moments, or commissioning a design for a loved one, Bibi van der Velden can craft one-of-a-kind jewellery pieces on a bespoke basis.
The bespoke process involves discussions with Bibi about the design direction of the piece of jewellery you would like to create, which can take place either at her Amsterdam studio or remotely. From picking the stones and precious metals that you would like to work into your piece’s design, to collaborating with Bibi to dream up its form, symbolism, and message, creating a bespoke jewellery piece gives a glimpse into the boundless creativity that characterises Bibi’s jewellery.
Once you have decided on the foundations of your jewellery piece, Bibi will keep you updated throughout the process, with beautifully detailed sketches and pictures of the initial forms of the jewellery that she carves in wax. Bibi can design a piece that’s entirely original, or take a family heirloom as the starting point for a new piece of jewellery, lending it a new life with her unmistakably artistic touch.
The Alligator Wrap Ring exemplifies the transformational aspect of Bibi’s jewellery. Crafted in 18k recycled yellow gold, the ring’s intricate mechanism took months to develop. The piece is fashioned as an entirely-articulated alligator, whose body wraps around the wearer’s finger. Its jaws move too, snapping to secure the ring shut, with a catch seamlessly set into the creature’s head to click the jaws open and closed. Chiming with Bibi’s signature attention to detail, the alligator’s tail moves from side to side, while its tiny legs move, too. Its eyes, meanwhile, nod to an alligator’s mercurial nature, and flash with green tsavorites. As with all her pieces, Bibi designed the ring so it looks just as beautiful as standalone object as it does on the hand. Lying flat on the dressing table, the alligator could be lounging in a tropical lagoon.
This exuberant piece takes its cues from Bibi’s home town, Amsterdam, and celebrates the city’s storied history and liberal mood.
The necklace is fashioned as a series of pendant motifs, which hang from a red cord. Each of the charms is hand-carved from natural stone, and designed by Bibi to nod to Amsterdam’s famed landmarks. A cannabis leaf crafted in green chalcedony and set in 18k yellow gold conjures Amsterdam’s famed cannabis cafés, while an arched bridge – just like those that cross the city’s canals - is in clear quartz and set with sapphires in rainbow tones. A herring is delicately carved in clear white quartz, and set with gold bones, while a chip of real Delft porcelain is set in a rose gold frame. And inspired by the city’s red light district, a piece of red amber is set with a woman’s silhouette in 18k yellow gold, as if she’s posing seductively in a window.
There are also three “Xs” in 18k rose and yellow gold dotted along the necklace, (XXX is one of the symbols on Amsterdam’s flag, with the crosses symbolising St. Andrew, a 1st Century fisherman), while a is bead carved from the gemstone Sunstone, whose glistening orange inclusions symbolise the Dutch national colour.
Sustainable values are also woven into this highly detailed design. All the gold is recycled, while the antique Delft pottery chip has been excavated from the Netherlands.
MEMENTO MORI RING
The Memento Mori Ring is a piece that was inspired both by Bibi’s Memento Mori collection, which celebrates the perpetual cycle of life and death, and the exhibition “Jewels! Glittering at the Russian Court” at the Hermitage Amsterdam.
The ring’s form takes as its touchstone the flamboyant parrot tulip, with the piece designed in 18k recycled yellow gold and sterling silver with petals that unfurl over the hand. The petals glisten with sustainably-sourced rubies and emeralds, alongside pavé tsavorites, dark pink sapphires, and white diamonds. The ruby and emerald embellishments nod to the “opulence of the Russian court,” Bibi says, “with the green of the emeralds symbolising new life, too.”
This ring is replete with fascinating details that appear when the piece is seen from different angles. Its shank is crafted as a tulip stem in 18k yellow gold, which winds around two fingers. At the “cut” end of the stem is a moonstone, to resemble a dew drop. The leaves are set with all manner of insects - a rock crystal maggot, a gold spider, gold ants, seed pearl eggs, and a gold slug and caterpillar, the latter both embellished with gemstones. And also alluding to the cycle of life is an 18k gold human figure that emerges from an embellished mammoth tusk egg at the centre of the flower. This 60,000-year-old mammoth tusk is found under Russia’s Siberian permafrost, another connection to the country.