She wears seashells: The story of a necklace inspired by the sea

She wears seashells: The story of a necklace inspired by the sea
September 24, 2016 Fairina Cheng

As a child, Marnie collected seashells on the South Coast of New South Wales. But she never thought that one day, she’d wear one of her little treasures as a necklace.

“I started collecting shells when I was too young to remember,” she said. “My family’s grown up spending our holidays at a small beach town called Callala and that’s where the obsession began!”

“I would collect them with my Mum. In a family of boys, it was a girlie thing that we could do together. The shells down the South Coast are just beautiful and colourful and perfect! Nothing like in Sydney!”

Marnie and her little brother collecting shells on the beach

“I came across Fairina on Facebook and in doing so fell head over heels for her custom made jewellery,” Marnie said.

After a not-so-subtle hint, her boyfriend, Jon, contacted me to have a custom necklace made as a surprise birthday present.

We started out by delving into what she was like as a person – likes, dislikes, passions and memories – the first step towards identifying a key element that could be translated into an intrinsically personal piece. When I found out Marnie was a beach girl and a shell collector… well, that right there was design gold!

Marnie’s seashell collection and her two adorable pups, Honey and Sugar, on the beach

After the design was finalised, it was time for Jon to test out his ninja skills and sneakily borrow a selection of shells from Marnie’s collection. A few days, and some clever spy moves later, her collection was six shells lighter, and she was none the wiser.

Shells in hand, I narrowed it down to three of the best candidates to have commemorated in sterling silver. This process involved the delicate work of making a silicone mould of the shells, which meant that the final silver castings were exact models of her special little pieces.

We knew that Marnie was after a keepsake – a meaningful piece of jewellery she could keep close to her every day. So for her birthday, we made her this:

A silver shell necklace from the collection she started before she could even remember…

…set with a sapphire, the birthstone for the month she was born…

…in the deep blue of the ocean she spent her childhood playing in with her family.

“I’m a beach girl through and through and my oh my did you two deliver the goods!” Marnie said.

“For me, gifts are 1000 times more special when they have meaning and are thoughtful. When I started reading the stories on your website behind the jewellery I found them so personal and interesting. It’s easy to spend a lot of money on a nice piece of jewellery. It’s harder to make a piece of jewellery that someone falls in love with that starts conversations.”

“It just makes me feel happy. It reminds me of Jon and the beach – my two loves. I absolutely ADORE it Fairina, I will never take it off!”

Jon and Marnie celebrating her birthday on a surprise helicopter ride. Looks like he’s a keeper!

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