We have just launched our new Orca range - featuring necklaces, cufflinks, brooches and charms. To celebrate, we wanted to share why these and other ocean dwellers hold such a dear place in our hearts.
The Orkney archipelago is a liminal place, where land and sea appear to
seamlessly blend into one. Anywhere you stand on these islands, you are never
far from the ocean, so it’s no wonder that it’s a wonderful spot for beachcombing
and wildlife watching. Orkney is one of the best places in Britain to see whales,
with 12 different species recorded over the past 20 years, including humpback,
sperm and minke whales. And pods of half a dozen Orca, or killer whales, are not a rare sight.
Throughout history, when the ocean was a mysterious place, the sight of huge
sea creatures like whales would be frightening. So there are many myths that
may have been inspired by them, from the Finfolk, a race of scary shape shifters
who lived underneath the waters, to the Celtic nuckelavee, a half horse, half
water demon, to the Viking fable of the Stoor worm, a sea dragon known for its-
horror of horrors- malodourous breath!
Whales used to be an important source of food, oil and bone to our ancestors. If a whale washed up on the beach, it was a windfall for the community- the Gaelic
word for whale is muc-mhara, which translates literally as “sea pig”. Everyone
was sure to eat heartily for a long time, as well as have plenty of material to
make useful and beautiful items, such as combs or jewelry. You can still see
whalebone decorations around the islands even today, and there is the Birsay
Whalebone monument at Skiba Geo, made from the bone of a whale that washed up in the 1800s.
While we don’t wear whalebone jewelry anymore, like our ancestors, our close
connection to the sea inspires many of our modern Scottish pieces, like the
Groatie Buckie, the Orcadian name for a cowrie shell- lucky is the person who
finds one! Our earrings, charm and pendant jewelry in beautiful silver evoke the
fortune and natural beauty of this charming wee shell. Or our ever popular puffin
collection, with a charm, brooch, earrings, pendant or pewter scarf pin featuring
this cheeky sea bird that is beloved of locals and visitors alike. For the beachcomber, there’s our heart shaped sea pebble, in drop or stud earrings and
neck wire, in silver or gold.
If you are looking for accessories inspired by your Celtic, Scottish or Viking
heritage, and you are a total thalassophile (a person who loves the sea- yeah,
that’s us!) browse our collections of handcrafted silver, gold and pewter jewelry.
Each piece is made in and inspired by the Orkney isles using traditional methods, with free gift-wrap available and affordable shipping around the world, including the United States and Canada.
Photo image courtesy of Graham Campbell