Bees have become synonymous with Alex Monroe Jewellery. His iconic bumblebee pendant is loved by fans worldwide. Inspired by nature, this sustainably minded eponymous brand, has recreated some of the most delicate flowers and insects in beautiful detail in precious metals. We are delighted that Alex is a Friend of Wild Beauty, sharing our love of the countryside and, of course, bees!
Alex has kindly taken time to tell us about how growing up in the countryside inspired him and how the original bumblebee design came about.
Alex, you grew up in the countryside – being surrounded by nature there has clearly had an impact on your designs. What is it that you love so much in nature?
Nature is key to it all. I was bought up in the Suffolk countryside, but have lived in the city for ages so I miss it. I try to use nature a metaphor for the ideas I’m exploring. For me, if I’m designing I tend to go out into the countryside, or have an explore. I usually find the key to what I’m looking for in nature, whether that’s out in the wilds, or from a lovely afternoon in Chelsea Physic Gardens. You can see anything there is to see in nature, it’s just a matter of looking.
How do you balance your love of the countryside with living in London?
I live and work in London, although my heart is in Suffolk. I need the rush of being in the thick of it in the city, and I’ve been in London for ages now. But I also need that absolute peace and quiet that you only get in the countryside – so I’m very lucky that I have a cottage in the middle of nowhere in Suffolk that I can escape to, to get away from it all.
You are well known for your iconic bumblebee pendant – how did this design come about and what is it do you think that gives it such an enduring appeal?
Our Bumblebee has very humble beginnings, as it all came about when my daughters found a poorly Bee in our garden, and despite our best efforts, he didn’t make it. I had been thinking about a collection around the theme of ‘Original Sin’ – so a bee buzzing around the Garden of Eden seemed like a great place to start. The girls had carefully laid the bee to rest in an old matchbox, and I sat at my workbench and studied the bee, and started recreating it from silver.
Of course, at that point, none of us could have imagined for a second that twelve years on, it would still be our most popular piece!
I always loved the idea that a creature could have a power and fragility to it’s beauty – it could sting you, but then it would die. I think bees symbolise strength and resilience to many people, and that is definitely part of it’s longevity and appeal.