In conversation withSophie Bille Brahe
The Danish jeweler skillfully elevates glittering diamonds and creamy pearls to create jewelry inspired by the night sky, that’s infused with Scandinavian minimalism.
Like a line of stars picked out in diamonds, the Croissant de Lune earring is emblematic of Sophie Bille Brahe’s jewelry. It was first developed in natural pearls, but a more recent version now sees graduated diamonds trace light up the ear. “Diamonds are the reason I chose this profession,” says the designer, from her studio in Copenhagen, Denmark. “There is something truly magical about working with diamonds, taking them from the ground and shaping them into a bright, architectural treasure.”
Born in Denmark, Bille Brahe trained as a goldsmith and graduated from the Royal College of Arts in London, before returning to her native Copenhagen to start her brand. Her jewels are rooted in a “fascination with the night sky” and stargazing is in her blood: her family is descended from a 16th-century scientist, Tycho Brahe, considered to be the last major astronomer before the invention of the telescope, who made astonishingly accurate observations about the night sky.
Today, Bille Brahe translates the mysteries of the universe into graceful jewelry using minimal settings to keep the focus on form and gemstones. You can call it Danish minimalism with a dash of fantasy, or Scandi-chic with extra pretty, but her timeless jewelry will always make a highly original addition to your collection.
You were first known for your work with pearls, and now diamonds. What is it about these two stones in particular, that make them so appealing to you?
For me, pearls symbolize purity, innocence, and femininity. Pearls are classic and simple but still have an enchanting and captivating look. They are very personal and come alive when worn, making them feel unique to the person wearing them. When my son Johan was born, my mother gave me a natural pearl necklace, given to her by my father while we were living in Saudi Arabia. Pearls were not something I wore very often, although I appreciated them as a beautiful, natural material. I found it very difficult being apart from my son, and wanted to create something special with real meaning, so I decided to work with pearls for the first time.
Diamonds are mesmerizing. I love that they come from the earth, and that each one is unique. I think my fascination for the night sky explains why I like working with diamonds so much. There is something deeply inspiring and mysterious about the universe above us, working with diamonds is my way to get my head around it.
To what extent do you think the style of your brand reflects Danish design principles?
Sophie Bille Brahe is about modern classics and understated luxury, it’s both poetic and sophisticated. I think the way I create jewelry is much more about taking away things than adding. How simply can you show a pearl? How cleanly can you show a diamond? I don’t feel a setting should ever take the focus away from the material, unless it’s part of the story that I want to tell. I love clean lines and the fact that each piece tells its own story.
Who do you have in mind when you’re designing?
I started making jewelry for myself and my friends, before I created my company. Today I have a bigger audience, but I am still inspired by the same kind of women. I would never create something that I wouldn’t wear myself.
“ I’m inspired by the mystical nature of the night sky. Diamonds represent the stars, while pearls symbolize the Earth’s love affair with the moon. “
Which of your pieces are you wearing right now?
When I gave birth to my daughter, my boyfriend gave me the Grand Ocean Ensemble ring. It is with me always – reminding me of what is dearest to my heart, but also the power and strength of women. I’m also wearing S,B,B rings on my left hand and J on my right. SBB is my name, S is for Snoopy, my dog, B is for Beate, my daughter, J is for Johan, my son, and Jeppe, my boyfriend. The rings symbolize all my loved ones. I wear them every day!