Published June 6, 2018
It’s on a rare sunny day that I visit Hildur Hafstein’s jewellery shop, which is just slightly hidden from the hustle and bustle of Reykjavík’s main street. In the bright afternoon light, the wood-panelled store emits a mystical vibe; the gold and silver pendants lining the walls suddenly acquire new life, as if lit from within.
A journey east
Long, stacked necklaces with horns and colourful gems hang from a couple of deer antlers pinned to the walls, while more precious bracelets rest safely in glass boxes. A beautifully woven gold ring catches my attention, not far away from a selection of delicate lucky horn earrings that I envision almost instantly on my lobes.
“I mostly get my inspiration from the East,” designer and shop owner Hildur Hafstein tells me. “I love Eastern religions and philosophy, with a touch of Gypsy culture too.”
Slightly hippy but clouded in mystery, Hildur’s creations are magically balanced—the raw edges of classic, mystical symbols buffed by Hildur’s own delicate approach to design. Nods to Chakras and the healing properties of gemstones are hard to miss, but they’re never the stars of the show. Instead, they blend seamlessly with Hildur’s elegant touch, making her timeless creations only slightly bohemian.
“I began by working with healing crystals and making things for my friends when they needed help relieving stress or focusing,” Hildur says. “I like working with amethysts for their healing properties, agate for protection, and pyrite to give focus, luck, and strength. They also just look incredibly beautiful on,” she adds with an earthy laugh.
An unusual beginning
It wasn’t long, however, before Hildur started implementing silver, plated silver and gold into her collections, and her clientele grew steadily in the six years that followed. Classic pieces that have become emblems of her style, like her long chains, the gold pleated spider bracelets, and the pendants bearing her symbol—two woven ‘H’s that symbolise her name—can always be found in the shop no matter the season.
“I actually started my career working with costumes and in theatre, after a degree in fashion design in Barcelona and one in textile design in Reykjavík,” Hildur explains. “So this kind of began by chance. But I guess life leads you places and you can’t always decided where.”
Of silver and gold
Now, to keep up with the demand, she works closely with two small family companies located in her second home, Spain, where everything is masterfully created by hand. “I mostly draw and design here in Iceland, but I still have to go to Spain every two months to work closely with them,” Hildur tells me. “It takes quite some time but it’s worth it.”
Indeed, the craftsmanship behind her creations is astonishing. Because everything is done by hand, every jewel is unique in its own way, from the sterling silver rings to the dainty, 10 carat gold strings twisted together into bracelets that rest in a glass case. Who knows if it’s fate or chance that drove Hildur into the realm of jewellery, but as I look around at the fruits of her imagination, I can’t help but think that she is precisely where she needs to be.