Gong neckpiece
Article by Tony Luppino

very time the Calgary Philharmonic Orchestra performs, jewellery designer Claudine Hannigan is one reason they sound so splendid. Through a program developed by Brinkhaus Jewellers, the CPO has acquired new instruments needed to create the music that makes it one of Canada’s top orchestras.

Brinkhaus has deep roots in Europe where the company began in 1936. Part of the family heritage is a love for all the arts, especially for jewellery and music. Though most musicians in the CPO own and play their own instruments, some belong to the orchestra. Unlike violins or other instruments that often improve with age and use, some, such as harps, percussion pieces and harpsichords require regular replacement. Raising funds to buy these instruments seemed a perfect fit with the Brinkhaus devotion to craft and music in the European tradition, thus the “Keeping the Beat” program was born.

Brinkhaus’s lead Calgary designer, Claudine Hannigan, was brought on board in 2003 to design and create a series of one-of-a-kind pieces of fine jewellery that represented through their form, various new instruments as required by the CPO. For every $250 they contribute, Amadeus Patrons (a group of about 400 significant donors to the CPO) are given one chance to enter a raffle for the piece of jewellery designed by Hannigan.

Creating a piece of jewellery in the shape of a musical instrument for a professional orchestra and its patrons implies a piece that works as fine jewellery while respecting the important features of the instrument. How does one translate that into jewellery?

Image: Gong neckpiece
18kt yellow and white gold, hand constructed, hammered finish, bezel-set with one 11.5 – 12mm mabe pearl, on black rubber neckwire, 40mm x 53mm
Photograph: Sara Leishman