Insects in sculptural jewelry
A sculptural jewelry designer turns to creepy crawlies for aesthetic inspiration
Molten silver and, on occasion, liquid gold take the shape of arthropods and reptiles in designer Helena Alegre’s distinct brand of wearable art.
Seen in various states of arrest on the polished surfaces of semi-precious stones are beetles, dragonflies, wasps, and lizards, among other creatures that buzz, flutter, and crawl. Alegre’s choice of subject is perhaps what makes her sculptural jewelry striking. With the hands of a seasoned silversmith and the heart of a frustrated entomologist, she turns into magical representations of the animal kingdom what may otherwise be deemed as unsightly or odd.
“I love beetles more than any other insect. In ancient history, they represent new life, rebirth, and reincarnation,” explains Alegre. Like a true coleopterist, she cites the mighty Dynastes Hercules and Goliathus
Goliatus as her favorites. No two pieces bear the same likeness. Alegre hammers, scrapes, chisels, and carves away in her workshop until the precious metals take their final form.
She makes sure that 75 to 85 percent of her materials are sourced locally. Alegre also collaborates with the Department of Trade and Industry and employs Bicolano artisans, jewelry makers, and blacksmiths as a way of giving back to the community.
The jewelry designer is also known for creating modern tambourine necklaces with intricate filigrees— a tribute to the heritage of Camarines Norte, which to her is home.