Have you ever had the desire to have a deeply personal, bespoke piece of jewellery created for you? Here’s the story of Arlette's incredible, Philip Pullman-inspired necklace, conceived by husband Neil as an anniversary present.
“My husband and I read Philip Pullman’s epic trilogy in 2000 at university (where we met). The first book, Northern Lights, was published in 1995, followed by The Subtle Knife and The Amber Spyglass. We were instantly captivated by his world of armoured polar bears, lost children, and the mysterious ‘dust’ phenomenon.
The books continued to twine with our lives – the release of Pullman’s La Belle Sauvage, the first instalment of The Book Of Dust, in 2017 even coincided with our 10 year wedding anniversary.
Central to the books’ premise is the concept of ‘daemons’. Daemons are a type of fictional being, the external physical manifestation of a person's 'inner-self' or human soul, that takes the form of an animal. They have human intelligence, are capable of human speech, and usually behave as though they are independent of their humans. When the human and their dæmon reach puberty, the dæmon assumes a permanent form. This form represents the personality of their human. As a human and their daemon are one being, they must stay within a few yards of each other; separation causes extreme pain and distress for both, and, given enough distance, results in death. “I think we all really like animals! We would all like to have spirit companions. Someone to converse with, an accomplice, all sorts of things” says Philip Pullman.
When the children were babies – and even now – I used to tell Neil they were like my daemons – when I wasn’t with them I felt like my arm had been cut off, and, even though they’re older now, this is still how I feel. Neil had the brilliant idea of taking this concept to Arlette Gold jewellery designer Roz Buehrlen. Roz is renowned for her hand-carved, sculptural jewellery – we stock her incredible swallow designs.
Neil asked each of our children to choose their spirit animal. Our eldest chose an eagle, as he’s always been fascinated by falconry and likes the great bird. Our second son chose a lion because he is obsessed with lions and tigers – he used to love The Tiger Who Came To Tea and now runs around the house in a classic tiger onesie. He also has crazy hair and has huge tantrums where he literally roars. Our daughter, the youngest, chose a bunny rabbit – she’s mischievous and fun.
After some preliminary sketches, meetings and rough sketches in base metal, Roz made each figure into a mould. She works carving her drawing directly into metal rather than wax as it gives a more detailed finish.
The final result is, as you can see, incredible. It’s unique to us as a family, and, most importantly to me, has a story behind it, which I think is really important with jewellery. I find it comforting; it’s a surprisingly heavy piece, which means I don’t ever forget I’m wearing it. I like having it on when my kids aren’t with me – it makes me feel close to all three of them.
Roz kept the moulds, and has since made each child their own pieces; a bunny on a silver chain necklace, a lion figure, and she even made a little stand for the eagle.
Roz was a little nervous about my reactions. She says, “I actually put a stack of emotion in to my carving so I've been a little anxious about you liking it. What an amazing present to celebrate your marriage and your children.”
But reassured by my incredible response, she continues, “It has been the best job ever; lots of time thinking, chatting and drawing. Your gorgeous children were all involved too, Neil's idea was so brilliant. I'm in love with the spirit animal idea; Phillip Pullman is my favourite author and I've been asking all my children and their friends what their spirit animal would be. I'm still undecided about mine but either something that lives in air or water. I actually feel the whole idea is so very brilliant – I can see Arlette Gold doing this as an entire jewellery line!”