The inspiration for a new jewellery collection can come from almost anywhere. In the case of Sheila Fleet’s new Honeybee collection it all started with a customer request, a flashback to the 60s and the distinctive shape of natural honeycomb.
After launching her successful Bumblebee and Great Yellow Bumblebee collections last year, Sheila was contacted by an Australian customer who asked if she could add a bee feature on an 18ct gold lapel pin brooch.
“This led me to research the difference between the types of bees,” she says, “and the honeycomb hexagon shape really inspired me to create this new collection.”
The Honeybee collection is a fusion of natural and geometric forms offering a range of easy-to-wear, collectible, mixed-metal designs.
When designing the collection, Sheila drew on her time in London in the Swinging Sixties: “In 1969, I remember designing lots of long chain necklaces with various designed stations of beads. Big bold jewellery was in fashion, and I feel although I never designed any hexagon pieces back then, this Honeybee collection has a bold design feel that reflects the 60s.”
The Honeybee collection evokes the mood of the 1960s but with a contemporary twist. Items include long, silver, chain-linked necklaces; bold, hexagonal bangles; and stylish hexagonal-shaped rings, which look great stacked or worn as thumb rings. The collection includes designs set with hexagonal citrine gemstones, and hand-enamelled pieces in rich, honey-coloured enamel.
“The 60s and 70s were a fantastic time for emerging fashions such as Biba,” says Sheila, reflecting on the explosion of youth culture during that decade, which was expressed in everything from clothes and hairstyles to music and movies.
Being in London during the Swinging Sixties was a seminal time for Sheila, working for the costume jeweller Corocraft and creating award-winning designs. It was also where she met the love of her life and future husband, Rick.
“I remember I was invited to a Bill Gibb fashion show in London by Brian Morrison who was the road manager for Pink Floyd and T. Rex. This was also where I met Rick. Brian Morrison just so happened to have a house next door to Rick’s parents in Surrey!”
In 1977, the couple moved to Orkney where Sheila continued to flourish, establishing herself as a designer known for her bold, innovative creations. A role she continues to be celebrated for today.
“I think designers continue to push the boundaries in fine jewellery,” she says. “Although it’s still very difficult for jewellers to work expressively because of the cost of materials, and why costume jewellery still tends to be so popular."
Asked to pick her favourite pieces in her new Honeybee collection, she says: “If I had to pick, perhaps the hexagon Honeybee ring. When worn as a set, the long necklace with 10 interlocking hexagon links, matching earrings, and the hexagon rings stacked in rose gold, yellow gold, and silver creates a striking look.”
So, while the real-life honeybees may be cosying up in their hives for winter, why not bring their spirit and the spirit of the 60s to life with a striking new piece from the Honeybee collection?