As many of my friends already know, for my 25th wedding anniversary last week my husband bought me this really wonderful ring, a joyously-created fairytale castle with turrets and pinnacles and a green dragon, made by artist and silversmith Iris Schamberger, whose work is so delightful I feel sure you'd like to know more about her. I fell in love with her gorgeous jewellery last year on discovering her website, but it seemed right to wait for a special occasion before buying something.
I was seriously tempted by this beautiful Swan King...
and by this waterlily with a goldfish hiding under the leaves...
but in the end, it was her little castles that I truly fell for. Like this one:
You can see lots more of them at Iris's lovely website, Fairytale Jewellery - but first I've asked Iris to answer a few questions. Here they are!
Iris, how long have you been making fairytale jewellery?
I have been making fairytale jewellery for 22 years.
And what inspired you to choose fairytales as a theme for your work?
My first ring with a small castle on it, I made for myself to remember happy holidays in Southern France, where I saw such a castle on the top of a hill. I loved to tell fairytales and to read out fantasy stories to my son and my little daughter, so that stories became more and more a theme to my work.
What is your favourite fairytale, and why?
One of my favourite fairytales is "Frog Prince". Perhaps it is because the princess dares to throw the insistent frog against the wall and not to give him a kiss as he expects it. As the princess shows her honest feelings, her rage, she makes the frog turn to a prince.
(That's such a different new take on the Frog Prince! I'd always felt sorry for the frog, but you're right, he's really a prince after all, and why should she have to marry him - or take him to her bed - just for returning her ball? So when she shows her real feelings, she's drawing a line that sets their relationship on a truthful footing.)
Your jewellery is so detailed and beautiful - how much work goes into making a fairytale ring?
Making a fairytale ring is a lot of work. I often spend many hours by building it out of wax, but I love this job. With a heated needle I am modelling the little figures and putting them together. The dragon´s eyes or other details are so small, I often have to wear magnifying glasses.
When the ring out of wax is perfect, it is sent to a foundry for casting. Afterwards I have to do the finish: to solder little golden balls on the top of the towers or to mount some rubies or sapphires. At the end, the ring is provided with a multilayered fired varnish.
Magical rings often turn up in fairytales! If you could give your rings a magical power, what power would you choose?
I would choose the power of love of life and I hope it is truly there in my work!
I am quite sure it is...
Finally, here's a video of Iris at work.