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Sirens of the sea - silver jewelry inspired by 19th century drawings

2 min read

A friend referred to this collection as "when stars and snow collide". I love this apt description, even though it has little to do with the original inspiration.

black sterling silver bib necklace from Siren Collection, inspired by 19th century sea creature illustration

Many years ago I became familiar with the drawings of Ernst Haeckel, the renowned 19th century biologist and illustrator.

I was instantly smitten. His drawings are gorgeous, capturing precise details of flora and fauna from sea and land. I’m particularly taken with the ocean creatures, as a water loving creature myself.

ernst haeckel illustration book with hand carved silver jewelry parts inspired by the drawings
Haeckel’s art remained in the back of my mind for years. Then, when I was working with a rep who recommended I create a line of jewelry to compete with the popular circle form, I knew I had to pull from this inspiration.

A simple circle was not enough on it's own, but embellished with the intricacies of a jellyfish or sea anemone, it comes to life.

hand carved wax made into detailed silver casting for jewelry necklace

I made the silver elements by hand carving wax into the intricate and detailed shapes. I envisioned a family of them living together, much like the diverse lifeforms in an ocean tidepool.

bright silver sea scallop ring with tide pool

Named for the Greek mythological Sirens of the sea, I hoped to capture a sense of femininity, allure, possibility, and maybe a hint of risk.

hand carving blue wax to be cast into sterling silver shapes for jewelry

Each form was first cut from a large block of wax into a rough shape with a jewelers saw, then filed and drilled and slowly born into a smooth yet defined shape. Details were created using a combination of tools I made and dental tools I found at a flea market.

sterling silver circular necklace with dangling aqua gemstones inspired by ocean tidepool

I made the shapes to work on their own, or as a family. I carved each one to be detailed and complete so they look interesting from both sides, ensuring the jewelry looks good no matter which way it's worn.

sterling silver hand carved jewelry part inspired by ernst haeckel drawing

Once I had my carved wax shapes, I sent them to the caster to be made into molds and cast in multiple, allowing me to use them for a variety of styles and designs.

The Siren Collection contains a variety of earrings, necklaces, rings, and bracelets.

sea star dangle earrings in darkened sterling silver

sterling silver double feature bracelet from siren collection

Normally I design jewelry directly from the living things I see in nature. Though water themes often have a way of creeping into my work, it was a fun exercise to make something influenced by that of another artist.

I see a world of stars and snowflakes within Haeckel's ocean creature drawings, which brings me back to that statement at the beginning... it seems nature has a way of repeating it's best designs if you look close enough.

Shop the Siren Collection

Catherine Grisez


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