Brísingamen – treasures from the past
By Celina Tran | Photos: Brisingamen
Born from curiosity and passion, Brísingamen is a small Norwegian jewellery company inspired by Nordic history and culture. Using ancient methods and tools, Brísingamen creates treasures from the past.
In Norse mythology, ‘Brísingamen’ is the necklace of Freja, welded by Brisingene, four dwarves that forged many of the Norse gods’ most treasured belongings. Named after the ethereal necklace, Brísingamen was started by Norway-based filigree silversmith and goldsmith, Brit Elin Ildhusøy, as an homage not only to her Nordic heritage but also to her passion for jewellery, experimental archaeology and knowledge sharing.
“I’ve always been fascinated by the past, the purpose of jewellery, and its long creation process,” says Ildhusøy. “Forging and welding is a magical experience. I get to watch this hard, nearly unbreakable metal turn and bend, shaping itself under my hand. It’s truly mesmerising.”
Along with her passion for arts and creation, Ildhusøy has also had a life-long interest in historic techniques and tools. She explains that the path that led to Brísingamen has been educational.
“When I got my journeyman letter in 2015, I realized that this was a great way to combine my passion for archaeology and my skills to create something new,” says Ildhusøy.
“I’m very lucky to have found a whole society of like-minded people in the re-enactment scene that have supported and encouraged me to create my jewellery. Had it not been for this community, Brísingamen would not have existed.”
Ancient designs for a modern audience
The Viking Age makes up a significant part of Norwegian history, with many elements still present in modern society. Through Brísingamen, Ildhusøy is doing her part in preserving the cultural heritage in a modern age.
“Using the same tools and techniques, I make both identical and Viking-inspired jewellery. I don’t think anyone else in the country does it this way,” she says. “I take my time and put my entire soul into each individual piece, making it by hand – it’s literally slow fashion.”
Ildhusøy says that few people know about the implications of the jewellery industry on the environment. Many mining companies use hazardous chemicals to leach minerals out from the earth, often leaving a devastating impact on local ecosystems.
“I want to leave as small of a footprint as possible, so I keep all aspects of production local. All my metal suppliers are Norwegian, and my silver supplier uses recycled silver,” she says.
“It also allows me to ensure good quality jewellery that will last generations to come, because there’s little point in promoting historical art if there aren’t future generations to enjoy it.”
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