3 Pieces with Sophie Bille Brahe

EditorsOct 17, 2016

3 Pieces with Sophie Bille Brahe

The innovative Danish jewelry designer is a trend-starter and non-conformist with a cult following.

In our latest installment of “3 Pieces” Sophie Bille Brahe talks motherhood and modernity. (Portrait by Nikolaj Holm Møller)

It seems appropriate to me that Copenhagen-based designer Sophie Bille Brahe chose three single earrings to speak about for my “3 Pieces” series.

Brahe created her “Croissant de Lune” ear climber, to my surprise, in 2007, several years before this style of jewelry became a de rigueur piece that every designer churned out to meet customer demand (though the style has had moments of popularity in the past, notably in the 1950s and 1960s).

When I asked Brahe about this, she affirmed as much, saying that in the contemporary era, “I think I was one of the first who started doing this kind of ear crawler that goes up the ear.”

She didn’t belabor

the point, but since speaking with Brahe I’ve become more convinced than I already was that she’s inadvertently dictated a lot of what is considered cool in jewelry design now.

I don’t think it’s something she set out to do; rather, I imagine it’s been a natural effect of the appreciation people have for her work, which is at once modern but quiet, unique but elegant.

I was fascinated with everything Brahe had to say about designing the following three pieces, which ranged from bling to motherhood to astronomy to “stupid flower decorations.”

Read on for a little insight into the mind of one of contemporary jewelry design’s most riveting creators.

Sophie Bille Brahe’s “Croissant de Lune” earring in 18-karat yellow gold with white diamonds

Sophie Bille Brahe: The “Croissant de Lune” was one of my first pieces. I actually did it back in 2007, even before I started the company.

It’s 18-karat gold with VVS diamonds. The reason why I did it is because I really wanted to wear some big bling.

I wanted to wear some nice diamond earrings and then I did two kinds of studs, and it looked so Beckham-like. I was like, “Oh no, that’s definitely not the way I want to wear that.” I really wanted to use the diamonds in a way where you had the feeling of proper bling but without being this kind of status symbol--just let the diamond stand in its own beauty.

I think that’s very much the way I work with all the jewelry I make; I try to use the material to tell a story, I try to let them stand alone rather than cover a diamond with a lot of decoration. I like to have clean, clean lines in the materials.

At the point where I did this piece, people would normally only wear two earrings. I think it’s much different now that people are more educated in being able to just wear one earring, but I really liked this, that the jewelry could be worn in one ear and then you could put something in the other ear.
“I really wanted to use the diamonds in a way where you had the feeling of proper bling but without being this kind of status symbol.”
My face is not very symmetrical so if I wear a pair of earrings, you can see that I’m not symmetrical. I have always had this feeling that if I put a different earring in each side, it’s easier to create a balance.

I wear “Croissant de Lune” always.

Sophie Bille Brahe’s “Elipse” earring in 14-karat yellow gold with a Japanese Akoya pearl

SBB: I lived in London for some time and I came back (to Copenhagen) and I wanted to start a company. And then I got pregnant--not planned. I just knew that this was my child. I knew that I wanted him. So in 2013, two weeks after I had given birth to him, I had to do a collection. I was almost in tears because I just wanted to look at my little boy and it was the messiest thing about bringing him to work and during working hours he was sleeping and it was really kind of stressful.
“I didn’t want to wear anything pearl myself; I thought all the pearls I could find would be really ladylike.”
The only, only thing I wanted to do was look at him. So I was like, ‘If I need to do a collection, it needs to be really meaningful to me.’

When I had given birth to my son my mom gave me an old pearl necklace. And I didn’t like pearls, but I kind of thought it would be a really fun element to use.

A pearl has this same kind of magic touch as having a baby. It’s an oyster and suddenly, because of a little grain of sand, there’s a pearl. It’s linked up to the moon; there are all these magical stories around it so, to me, it made sense to use the pearl.

I didn’t want to wear anything pearl myself; I thought all the pearls I could find would be really ladylike. So I tried to put it together with piercing elements. In the little gold ball there is a screw mechanism--it’s actually a very industrial thing to do, just done in a miniature way.

Just like the “Croissant de Lune,” the pearl is just a pearl; there’s no stupid flower decoration, there’s just the beauty of a pearl. You don’t need to think about a lot of things, you can just enjoy the glow and the color and the pure shape.

It’s a Japanese Akoya pearl and the gold is 14-karat yellow gold because of the screw mechanism. You cannot do it in 18-karat because the gold needs to be harder.

Sophie Bille Brahe’s “Claire de Lune” earring in 18-karat yellow gold with white diamonds

SBB: For each collection I have a story, some kind of thing that is about somewhere where I am in my life. It’s always quite linked up to my personal life, so this was why I chose the “Claire de Lune,” because I did a whole collection about star constellations. This is because my great-great grandfather was a very famous astronomer who found a star in the constellation Cassiopeia.
“I try to have…the universe represented in each collection.”
I did a whole collection inspired by a feeling of the place where the sea and the sky meet. There’s a feeling of never ending. I think this piece explains a little bit about how I try to have some kind of the universe represented in each collection.

I do sketches on Post-its, more like not to forget my thoughts. Then straight from there you can say almost I do the sketches in metal.

If you look at my table there’s always kind of these rough, rough things done in metal. I just need to get a feeling of how I want it to look and from these metal sketches then I do them exactly how I want them in gold. I think I work very much into the metals from the beginning.
Ashley Davisis the senior editor, fashion at National Jeweler, covering all things related to design, style and trends.

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