Island Orchid Jewellery

Designing a Piece of Jewellery

I was commissioned to make a piece of jewellery for the Scots Magazine giveaway. My brief was to create something with Scottish materials and to describe how where I live influences my jewellery. From the beginning, I wanted to make a piece that reminded me of a Scottish shore. Not a Westcoast island beach - sweeping, bleached white sands and turquoise seas but a more stormy sea, with a pebbly, seaweedy shore and little rockpools all bathed in that soft grey, bad-weather light. Something like the T.S. Eliot lines (which ran through my head the whole time I was making this piece):

I have seen them [mermaids] riding seaward on the waves
Combing the white hair of the waves blown back
When the wind blows the water white and black

from The Lovesong of J Alfred Prufrock

or with the same atmosphere as the illustrations of the storm-battered harbour in that lovely children's book "To Catch A Mermaid".

I was delighted to discover Renato Forno's website Scottish Gemstones , with a selection of fine, Scottish gemstones. Nat collects stones from around Scotland and then shapes and polishes them. I explained the sort of thing I wanted and Nat very intuitively picked the perfect stone, which he'd found on Balmerino beach in Fife.

Now, its a real skill to pick up a pretty pebble on the beach and know what it is and see its potential. Nat explained to me that it was pale green moss agate with an unusual zig-zag of grey agate and when this gorgeous stone arrived in the post I was really excited. Nat had of course polished it beautifully, and it really chimed with my idea of recreating a Scottish shore in beads.

I made the stone into a pendant by carefully wrapping it in Sterling Silver wire. The wire had to serve the function of holding the stone, but I wanted it to complement the stone and obscure the stone as little as possible. For the necklace I picked out beads that would reflect the texture and colour of 'the sea blown back', as well as picking up the colours in the stone and again complementing the stone but making sure it remained the focal point of the necklace. This is the finished piece and I'm very pleased with it. I hope whoever wins it will also be delighted with this depiction of a Scottish shore.

If you would like me to design you a special piece of jewellery then please contact me by e-mail at You can give me a detailed brief or if you're not sure what you want we can design your piece together. If you're looking for genuine Scottish gemstones then please visit Renato Forno's website, Scottish Gemstones where you'll get a feel for his love of the beauty that nature offers in the way of these stunning stones.

Copyright Melanie M-McKay 2011