The Art of Collecting

A conch shell in shades of translucent blue and milky pearl; jewelled beetles flickering with the luminosity of 24ct gold; an amethyst geode splintering into a million purple shards. Intricate and special, curiosities such as these have enraptured us for centuries.

Europe in the mid-sixteenth century witnessed an unprecedented fascination for the Cabinet of Curiosities, or Wunderkammer, now widely considered to be the pre-cursor to the modern museum.

These cabinets, sometimes entire rooms in elaborate houses and palaces, were hallowed spaces for collectors to display exotic treasures from all four corners of the globe and a gateway to ultimate enlightenment and knowledge.

Objects as Memory

Shaun Leane has spent his life collecting such objects and translating their beauty into jewellery. Far from laying dormant, natural curiosities are to him an enduring treasure trove.

The Kudu horn that accompanied him home from his travels in South Africa inspired his first design, the Tusk earring, and continues to inform the organic lines of the Sabre and Quill collections.

Adorning the walls of the atelier, fossils and minerals embody the delicate dance nature has played for millennia: that of strength and fragility. When Cherry Blossom trees burst into life in the first days of spring, it is this all-too-fleeting beauty that Leane chooses to evoke in gold and diamonds. For him, this is one of the most precious gifts that nature has to give us; a way of allowing precious moments to live for eternity.

‘Those who are inspired by a model other than Nature, a mistress above all masters, are labouring in vain.’