Stephanie Sieber is the founder and jewellery designer behind Brave Edith.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
It’s clear COVID-19 is not going away anytime soon, so the more we learn to live with it, the better. We are all getting used to keeping our distance and washing our hands regularly, however one thing that isn’t often talked about is keeping your jewellery clean.
Jewellery that is worn every day is wonderful for harbouring bacteria in its nooks and crannies. The good news is diamonds and precious metals are quite resilient and with the right attention to detail, are very easy to clean. Here are some tips on how to clean some of the most common everyday gold and silver jewellery.
When it comes to making a fashion statement, you should always dress in a way that makes you feel fantastic. It's also lovely to get compliments on how wonderful YOU look rather than on just the pieces you are wearing.
So how do you choose items that bring out your best features? When it comes to statement earrings, the best way to create an impact is to ensure that you choose earring styles that suit your face shape and features. Find out your face type and tips on earring styles to complement you.
Why choose precious metals? Many of us wear our favourite jewellery day in, day out. This means that it needs to be constructed of materials that will stand the test of time and will be comfortable to wear. Silver and gold are particularly prized for their durability as well as their hypoallergenic properties. While jewellery made from base metals such as brass may be cheaper, these metals are less durable and much more likely to create an allergy. That's why it's important to look out for hallmarks, or metal "fineness" or "quality" marks when buying jewellery.