An interview with the jewellery designer behind Brave Edith
July 18, 20193 min read
Stephanie Sieber is the founder and jewellery designer behind Brave Edith.
What was your path to jewellery designer?
Straight after school, I completed a combined degree in Laws and Commerce, but as soon as I graduated I realised I didn’t have the passion to carve a career out of it. I wanted to do something more creative and so I decided to join the advertising industry. It was a fantastic choice for me, I loved being surrounded by design and the challenges were always varied, plus it took me all over the world and it introduced me to so many different cultures. When I moved back to Australia after living in London for many years, it was not long before I was ready for a new challenge and I went back to study an Advanced Diploma in Jewellery and Object Design at Melbourne Polytechnic. It was a really important learning process for me, training me in all the essential hand skills that I needed to design and make all my own prototypes.
What motivated you to start Brave Edith?
I love the fact that jewellery has such a rich history; it is so intertwined with our personal identity and for many cultures is intrinsically linked with status and survival. With the rise of fast fashion however, I was beginning to feel that jewellery was losing its power to make a personal statement. A lot more jewellery now is aimed at young girls and feels more like disposable candy trinkets. I thought there must be a lot of “grown up” women out there who, like me, are craving more distinctive and meaningful jewellery. This motivated me to go back to my roots. In countries such as Burma and India, where my mother’s family were born and raised, jewellery is still universally respected for its symbolism, and so I decided to create a range of “feminine statement pieces” that are inspired by my heritage.
Who is Brave Edith?
Brave Edith is created in honour of my grandmother Edith. Along with my great grandmother (also called Edith!) and my uncle, she was forced to flee Burma in 1942 when the Japanese invaded. She literally had to get up from the dinner table and pack, scrabbling to take the bare essentials and just a few valuables - basically some jewellery and small silver ornaments. The three of them then trekked almost 300 kilometres to India. It was a route that around 500,000 other refugees also took. It was the largest migration in history at that point in time and it is estimated that of those, 80,000 died either from extreme heat, exhaustion or from tropical diseases. Clothes and possessions had to be discarded along the way but my family held onto a few pieces of jewellery and silver. Not surprisingly, these few possessions were a significant symbol of survival for my grandmother and family. It was the courage and belief of my grandmother Edith, that was the inspiration for the brand.
Why are you so interested in jewellery as a form of protection and positivity?
My mother and her family have been heavily influenced by Burmese and Indian superstitions, so jewellery and charms have always had a special role in my life, and sometimes a protective element to them. For example, when my mother was born “fat and fair” in India, everyone was so concerned that her beauty would attract evil spirits, that my grandmother arranged for a rupee to be blessed at the local temple to protect her. My mother still wears this rupee as a pendant today and is the inspiration behind the Precious Coin Pendant.
How do you want your jewellery to make people feel?
All my designs have an amuletic quality to them; I find the beauty of the motifs and materials that are associated with good fortune and protection have an almost magnetic positivity to them. You only have to look at the lustre of silver and feel its silken surface to be slightly mesmerised by its beauty and strength. Or take the resilience of a lotus, it rises out of thick mud every day completely unscathed; it’s more than just beautiful, it’s miraculous. I hope my designs reflect these ethereal powers and in doing so, will help women feel confident, positive and a little bit magical.
These days everyone is conscious of making better choices and being less wasteful. And one way we can be more mindful with our fashion choices is through the choice of handmade jewellery. Sometimes the term handmade is used loosely, so here are a few tips on how to ensure you are choosing quality handmade jewellery.
Jewellery choices are often at two ends of the spectrum - highly personal or highly fashionable. But whether your choice is driven by personal taste or by fashion, you should always look for jewellery that is well-designed. Well-designed jewellery looks and feels better no matter the style, because it simply hangs better, moves with you better and complements clothes better. Here are some tips for choosing jewellery that not only looks good, but also feels great.