Amsterdam’s Bibi van der Velden may soon have more fans stateside.
For Bibi van der Velden, jewelry clearly is much more than just precious metals and gemstones. During her frequent travels, the innovative sculptor and jeweler searches for the unlikely elements that define her imaginative pieces. Take, for instance, the collection that she recently created using the wing cases of scarab beetles. “The natural iridescence and colors of the wings could never be re-created outside of nature,” says van der Velden. She cast the delicate sheaths in gold or sterling silver and embellished the pieces—rings, necklaces, earrings—with a sprinkling of colorful gemstones.
Since launching her eponymous brand 11 years ago, van der Velden has been a well-kept secret among the mostly European connoisseurs who collect her designs, but the Amsterdam-based artist is fast becoming more widely known in the States. Her work made its U.S. debut in 2014 at Berg-dorf Goodman in New York City, and her designs are now on offer at stores including Forty Five Ten in Dallas. Shoppers might discover such striking pieces as a finely detailed snake-with-pearl bracelet carved out of a 40,000-year-old mammoth-ivory tusk, or sliced-quartz earrings that evoke jellyfish.
“What I find interesting about jewelry,” says van der Velden, “is that it doesn’t necessarily need a body, an arm, or a finger to come alive. It is something which exists in and of itself.”
Van der Velden was born in 1980 in New York and raised in London and the Netherlands. She studied sculpture at the Florence Academy of Art, the Gerrit Rietveld Academie in Amsterdam, and the Royal Academy of Art in the Hague, and in 2005 she opened the BibiMichèle art gallery in Amsterdam with her mother, sculptor Michèle Deiters. Today, in addition to making sculpture and jewelry (with prices that range from $1,000 to upwards of $20,000), van der Velden travels the globe as an ambassador for Solidaridad, an organization that promotes fair and sustainable business practices. In 2013 she trekked through the Peruvian rain forest to survey mines there. Such trips are not only part of her ethos as a jeweler but also a source of ideas. “It’s amazing,” she says, “the things that nature is able to create.”