A Conversation with Amanda Bardas About Modern Heirloom Jewellery
Without tales of love, there would be no purpose, without milestone moments there would be no craft; individual stories are the cornerstone of why we do what we do. We are grounded in the belief that jewellery has the ability to embody special memories, feelings and meaningful moments, and we are devoted to showing our customers how beautifully this can be done.
Our customers' stories and their meaning behind their jewellery are the essence of the Natalie Marie Jewellery philosophy, and it is an honour to share them with you.
Jewellery has always held a special place in Amanda Bardas' heart. From an early age, she remembers her mother creating her own traditions around jewellery, and has been lucky enough to inherit special heirloom that have been passed down from the generations before her.
Amanda is passionate about storytelling - she is the editor and publisher at Val Morgan Digital, overseeing TheLatch, Thrillist and the recently acquired PopSugar Australia.
Over the years, she has commemorated many of the significant moments in her life with pieces from Natalie Marie, which she hopes to pass on as her family grows. We spoke with Amanda about her connection to jewellery, how her life has been since the birth of her newborn, and the special moments that called for a new, modern-day heirloom.
At Natalie Marie, we believe jewellery has the ability to hold memories, evoke feelings and commemorate moments in time. Tell us, what does jewellery mean to you?
My jewellery has become an extension of me. I feel naked without it. It almost forms a protective layer. I’m never not wearing my special pieces, so it’s like the people that were a part of those pieces are always with me. I don’t have any tattoos but I’ve always thought of my rings as my ‘tattoos’ because once I add a special piece to my hand, I see it as permanent.
You have several sentimental pieces from Natalie Marie, which is so special to us. Can you tell us about these pieces and what they signify?
Yes! My first Natalie Marie piece was a bespoke piece created a number of years ago. As a wedding gift, my mum and dad gave me the stones from mum’s wedding and engagement rings.
We worked with Nat and created a cluster ring using mum’s four stones. We added an aquamarine to finish off the cluster. The aquamarine was special to me because it was the same stone my grandad gave my mum for her 21st birthday. I wanted to honour him in the piece as well.
My next Natalie Marie piece was a signet ring with my initial on it. I had just finished a big job, and with no idea what the future held, I wanted to commemorate that special time in my life, where I achieved a lot of career goals.
Another sentimental piece I have is the Rose Cut Ring. I got this ring when I found out I was pregnant, and I chose citrine as the stone as it would be the baby’s birthstone.
The only problem with forming such a strong sentimental attachment to jewellery, is that if I were ever to lose a piece (touch wood!) it would make me so incredibly sad! I literally never take them off.
You recently personalised our Nuna Signet Ring to commemorate the birth of your beautiful Poppy. Can you share the inspiration behind your design?
I wear yellow gold jewellery so I started there. Poppy’s middle name is James (after my Dad), so I opted for her first and middle name initials, PJ on the face of the signet ring and I added a champagne diamond to the knife edge. My engagement ring also has a knife edge so I plan on wearing these on the same hand.
How has becoming a mother changed you?
I always thought I wasn’t a very maternal person, but as soon as I pulled that tiny baby out and placed her on my chest, I felt an immediate surge of love and protection that I didn’t think I was capable of. I know that’s the obvious answer, and the answer you’ve likely read and heard a million times before, but I feel so lucky to have now felt that for myself.
And aside from that very obvious answer, I’m also very surprised that as the weeks and months fly by, and as Poppy develops a funny little personality, I feel less FOMO for my old life.
The first few weeks were challenging, especially because she was born in the middle of end-of-year party celebrations. All I wanted to do was hang out with my friends and enjoy a long lunch that turned into a late night, but now I’m content with those occasions falling into the calendar more sporadically.
In addition to your signet, you were drawn to a striking Lapis Lazuli Pendant from our most recent injection. What is it about this piece that you love?
The first time I travelled to Greece without my parents, I was 20. Growing up, I remember my mum would always purchase a special piece of jewellery when we travelled overseas, and it’s a habit I’ve now picked up.
It was on one of my first few days in Athens and I stumbled upon a jewellery shop called STAVROPOULOS (my maiden name). I popped in and was immediately drawn to an oversized Lapis Lazuli silver ring, which I still treasure 12 years later. The Lapis Lazuli Pendant is my first lapis piece set in gold, so I’m excited to make it a piece I wear every day.
It’s so beautiful to know that this piece honours the deep connection to your heritage. We're interested to know what jewellery signifies in Greek culture - are there any early memories of jewellery that you have, or heirloom jewellery you currently own?
I’m very lucky to have a few very special heirlooms. I’m the only granddaughter on my maternal side so I’ve inherited a few pieces I wear on special occasions. In Greek culture, it’s customary to gift gold to babies. My brother and sister in law gifted Poppy a beautiful gold bracelet when she was a few days old, as my aunts and uncle did for me when I was born. It’s these traditions I hope to pass on as our family grows.
My early memories are watching my mum make considered choices each day in what pieces she’d wear, and creating her own traditions around buying a special piece on holidays, which I now do too.
Crafting jewellery truly allows us to tell one’s story while tenderly attaching memories to its uniqueness. When you wear your necklace, what feelings, memories or moments are evoked?
It makes me feel connected to my Greek heritage. Lapis Lazuli is the most powerful gem in Greek Mythology, so while we’re unable to travel back “home”, it makes me feel closer to my family and culture. It also draws me back to that first solo overseas trip when I was 20!
Much of the jewellery we create for our customers is to symbolise a milestone moment, what future milestones do you hope to commemorate with a piece of jewellery?
I have always liked to commemorate milestones with a piece of jewellery. In terms of what might be next, I have a few new career goals, and I’d love to honour achieving those goals with a piece of jewellery.
From my husband, who I will ensure reads this (because I love receiving jewellery just as much as I enjoy buying it for myself), I hope we commemorate some future goals we achieve as a couple with pieces we can one day pass on to our daughter.
But there’s also something to be said for the ‘just because’ piece, that’s waiting for you when you get home for absolutely no reason, other than to say, ‘thanks for being great’. (That’s never happened before so I’m just putting it out there, haha).