by Jonathan Forgang
Vancouver is a town known for its dedication to green policy and giving refuse new life, usually through recycling. Lately there's been a bit of creative urban recycling in the city, as Gastown, the city's oldest neighborhood and former skid row, has found itself transformed with an influx of small boutiques, restaurants, and galleries that have made use of the last remnants of Vancouver's 19th-century roots.
Pyrrha Design, the brainchild of Vancouver-based jewelry designers Danielle Wilmore and Wade Papin, have always tried to use old techniques and concepts while creating their distinctive jewelry. With their Seals line of rings and necklaces and their Deucalion line of men's pendants, they have succeeded in creating pieces that endure and possess more conceptual heft than much of the mass, trend-fed accessories of late. The first creative spark for the line came with the discovery of a box of old wax seals at an estate sale. "Making jewelry out of them was inspired by a desire to give the seals new life and permanence," says Danielle.
The beauty of each of the pieces was found not only in the craftsmanship but also in the unique symbols that adorned each piece. "As we started researching the imagery in the seals we were intrigued by the richness of the symbolism. A symbol like protection can have many faces: eagle wings, dragons, gryphons." All of the pieces are handmade in their downtown studio in the manner of the old-world craftsmen they have come to admire. "Our design direction is largely a reaction to the proliferation of factory made, mass-produced jewelry that is so common in our industry," says Danielle.
Each of the pieces is individually cast in sterling silver or 14K gold and bears all the appealing imperfections of an object that's never been touched by a machine. By creating timeless pieces based on centuries-old concepts of artisanship and symbolism, Pyrrha's jewelry packs the same lasting message as that of their talismans. As Danielle attests, "Everything seems to be cranked out at a staggering pace and then left for dead. Because we live in such a throwaway society, it's necessary to create some things that can be kept."
Vancouver-based Pyrrha jewelry draws inspiration from ancient symbology and streamlines the modern talisman.