• Atazia Hadjirouseva

Josine Siedenburg | Sien

Known as the world's oldest gem, pearls are arguably one of nature’s most valuable gifts. It may be easy to overlook the process of its development while gazing in awe at the iridescent beauty of one. That what was once an irritant, a parasite that most unwelcomingly entered the body of an oyster, is transformed layer by layer until it becomes what is recognized worldwide as a symbol of perfection and wealth.

Currently situated in Amsterdam, The Netherlands, Josine tastefully captures the timelessness of this treasure in her pieces.

We walk alongside the Amstel river towards the Magere bridge, the soft late Sunday afternoon light illuminating the figures of friends, families, and lovers walking by us. The daylights last embrace.

“I love going for long walks on the beach, I can go wandering off for hours collecting shells.

I used to live in Melbourne, and that is something I would often do. My work is definitely inspired by nature.

I would say that experiencing nature is different in Australia, because you’re so often in it. It’s common to go camping, or off-roading, or for hikes. It’s more a part of the lifestyle. But here, I think it is also so important to seek out the nature – finding your local parks, or routes. Even in the city. Like we are now even. Even a short little escape to nature helps, especially during these times.”

We sit in the Dignita Hoftuin, and I couldn’t agree more with her words. We’re surrounded by greenery and the evening calm, warmed by the sight of others enjoying the same luxury of being able to sit and exchange presences.

“When I was a child, I used to try to break small little pebbles at my grandparents’ house, to see if there were glitters inside" she laughs. Though things have changed since then, her curiosity and appreciation for natures gems has remained. "I'm working with pearls – and I don’t think people understand how much time it takes. It’s not the raw product you are getting.” She shows me a tiny bag with a few raw pearls inside, and then presents her finished products that have been carefully and thoughtfully packaged into small boxes.

“I think that for many people it is a really difficult time right now with Christmas coming up. For myself personally, I feel in a privileged position because we just moved into a new house. But because my boyfriend is not from the Netherlands (he’s from Australia), I find it difficult that you’re so far away. And with the current conditions that Australia has in place he could go there, but then can’t come back. Which, with that idea in mind it makes it more difficult. Knowing this, it makes things a bit challenging at the moment on a personal level.

For small businesses and makers, it’s a challenging time as there is less exposure because the Christmas markets aren’t occurring this year. So you have to go online and use your platforms as much as you can, and speaking for myself I notice it is quite difficult because I am not someone who is used to being online so much. You now have to be busier online, and perhaps for other creators and makers as well who used markets and small shops more frequently before and aren’t online as much, it is the same adjustment we’re having to make. It’s important now to find a balance in how you’re going about it.

During the first lockdown, my creativity was awakened because I am usually busy full time with my job in the medical industry. And I figured that I had to find myself a project to put my energy into, in which I also gained energy from doing. I had all of these ideas in my head from being inspired by being in the Australian nature.

I didn’t go into my project with the intention being that it is only for money. It’s more personal than that for me. I like including a handwritten note alongside the set that I make. I believe that people can gain energy from what you give if you make it more thoughtful and personal, and I think that during these times that’s what we perhaps need more of. To give something back. To remind each other that we are here for each other.

I don’t think corona is completely a negative experience, because we are seeing so many positive initiatives coming through during this time. People are being made to sit still and think, and although being at home all of the time can get you up inside your head too much – I think for many people that they are putting their energy into creating.

The main thought that occurred to me during lockdown was that I wanted to do something that I enjoyed, that I gained energy from doing – with the intention of being able to give it to someone else.

I enjoy shells and the allure of the beach, and I wanted to share the beauty that I see and experience with others.

Maybe it sounds simple, but I just like to be making something beautiful for someone else.

For me it’s about what I can give back."

Josine (Sien) lives in Amsterdam, The Netherlands You can find more of her beautiful, handcrafted pieces at https://www.sienjewellery.com/

This interview has been translated into an English adaptation of its original version, which was recorded in Dutch. Therefore, the story may not be completely accurate to how it was originally told. Photography by Atazia Hadjirouseva [@atazia.pavlina] (photos 1 + 4), and Josine Siedenburg [@sienjewellery] (photos 2 +3)