Diane Parkes talks to a couple who create beautiful jewellery from mundane everyday objects.
Bella Day looks admiringly at a dead beetle which she has just pulled out of a box. Lying on its back, it just looks like a bug.
But she flips it over so that the light catches the iridescent sheen of its wings.
“Look at that, isn’t it beautiful?” enthuses Bella, placing it carefully back into its box.
This beetle will soon be making its way into a piece of jewellery created by Bella and her partner Magnus Stokoe who together make up the brand magnusandbella.
Their speciality is making one-off jewellery which captures objects in resin, turning what may at first appear mundane into something beautiful in its own right.
Rings, brooches, bracelets, earrings – all can hold their own tiny microcosm of an image. And each one is lovingly created by the couple.
The idea of capturing such memories first came about when Magnus’ grandmother Mary died and they discovered a matchbox among her things.
“When we were going through her stuff we found all kinds of things,” recalls 38-year-old Magnus. “But what really intrigued us was a little matchbox containing a one-and-a-half-d stamp, a pearl and a cameo. We had no idea what the story behind this was. Why had she chosen to keep these three things and what did they mean?
“We decided to make them into their own story. By creating something new from them we were creating a memory, a memory keeper.”
It had been a long road for Magnus and Bella to reach this point. They had met in the early 1990s as students at Nottingham Trent University and had been a couple for a while. After graduating, both went their separate ways. Bella married, had a child Harry, now 13, and worked as a video producer, for a website and on the Stonehenge by-pass project. Magnus became a runner for a television company before moving into production.
But 10 years later, Bella separated from her husband and joined the website Friends Reunited – where she found Magnus.
The couple were soon reunited and moved to Birmingham six years ago where they had their son Solly, aged two, and both decided to pursue another long-held passion – jewellery making.
“In 2005 we did a summer school at the School of Jewellery,” recalls 38-year-old Bella. “We enjoyed it and then Magnus won the Newcomer of the Year Award at the British Jewellery Association. That really made us realise that it was something we could do.”
The couple decided to set up in business with the help of support from the Birmingham City University Insight Out programme. They were making silver jewellery but they also set their sights on making the perfect memory keepers.
It was to be a lengthy process.