Naturally drawn to the allure of blinking and shiny objects, history shows that we have always desired unconventional jewellery made from precious rocks, shells, pearls, wood and animal bones, revealing our innate desire to decorate ourselves. Philosopher and moralist Jean de la Bruyere placed pearls equal to enlightenment and subtlety, while Francis Bacon used Amber as a metaphor to describe opulence and royalty. Our earliest attraction to jewellery can be traced back to prehistoric Africa. Perforated beads made from sea snail shells have been found dating to 75,000 years at Blombos Cave and in Kenya, beads found at the Enkapune Ya Muto cave made from perforated ostrich eggshells date back to more than 40,000 years ago.
Though diamonds and precious metals have long ruled the realm of luxury bijouterie, once again a new appreciation for mineral and natural jewellery is rising. A walk down Paris’ alluring Rue Saint Honoré will lead you to Monies. A Danish jewellery label that since its inception in the 70s, has kept true to its philosophy of turning earthly treasures in to divine sculptural designs. Named after its founders Gerda and Nikolai Monies, the duo and their team of designers have consistently sought to redefine luxury jewellery with their experimental approach to natural materials and exceptional production techniques. In addition to their own signature pieces, the label has also designed for some of the major fashion houses known such as Christian Lacroix and Chanel. Natural materials sourced from all around the world varying from fossils, precious stones and crystals, shells, amber, coconut, coral, leather and bones, woods and Greenland gold are gently handcrafted in to architecturally conglomerated pieces for the contemporary woman.
In 2012, the Museum of the Los Angeles Fashion Institute of Design & Merchandising (FIDM) had one signature Monies bracelet examined by experts at the La Brea Tarpit Museum. They were able to confirm that the fossilised bone processed in the bracelet is actually a femur from an Ice Age mammoth excavated in Siberia, and the other portion being ebony, an extremely dense wood, harvested somewhere in West Africa. The two materials were merely shaped, polished and oiled to create a extraordinary bracelet.
A designer and goldsmith, Gerda Monies furthered her education in Great Britain and the United States after finishing the design academy and holds the honour of being the first woman in Den Mark to be made a member of the country’s 700-year old traditionally ‘men only’ goldsmith’s guild! In keeping with her philosophy that jewellery should be large and provocative to stand out – Gerda states; “Big earrings, bracelets and necklaces add drama to a woman’s personality. All every woman needs is just one great piece of important jewellery.” Indeed, not for the modest dresser, Monies is for the daring style connoisseur. Each creation is a statement piece, consisting of dramatic forms and layers that stand out and demand attention. That being said, it comes as no surprise that Iris Apfel is one of their biggest fans.