SEVENSEAS Marine Conservation & Travel Issue 21, February 2017 - Page 85

Born in Croatia, Sylvia Gottwald studied fine art and design in Italy and Canada prior to earning her Masters of Architecture from Harvard University and completing her post-graduate in City Planning at MIT.

In 2000, following her long, successful career practicing architecture and urban planning locally and internationally, she turned her attention and efforts to the gems of the oceans.

Ms. Gottwald transforms the natural beauty and iridescence of nacre/mother-of-pearl and pearls into contemporary wearable art. Her avant-garde designs integrate nacre with precious metals, semi-precious gems, and edgy modern

materials such as rubber and steel.

Her interest in nacre is not only it’s inherent beauty, but also the importance of oysters to our marine ecosystems. The pearly oysters filter polluting nitrogen and plankton, protecting the oceans, and adding to the sustainability of life on our planet. In addition to their precious nacreous shell, they create a mysterious gem- the pearl- the only gem created by a living organism.

Ms. Gottwald’s growing list of published work includes the covers of European Vogue, Elle Decor, Ornament, Home & Design, exhibited at the Musée des Arts décoratifs, Palais du Louvre (Paris); Musée de la Nacre (Paris/Meru); Museum of Modern Art (New York City); Museum of Contemporary Art Kampa (Prague); Museum of Women in the Arts (Washington, DC); and the International Museum. Photo: SYLVIA GOTTWALD, in Dubrovnik, Croatia, 2012. Photograph by Domagoj Blazevic. of Applied Arts (Turin).


February 2017 - Art & Culture


order to find these shells which would help bring the rain.

Today, Spondylus is threatened by Ocean pollution, harsh fishing methods, and overexploitation for it fleshy inside, which is also considered a delicacy by locals. As far as consumption for jewelry, because it is difficult to carve its spiky surface, there are not man artists who work with Spondylus. For this reason, local artisans are not considered a threat for harvesting shells even though shells are much sought after by collectors. In the ancient cultures Spondylus shells have been traditionally used for jewelry but only worn by royals.

I have been working with Spondylus for only a few years- since my visit to Peru. I love the magnificent orange red and color but because it is quite hard and difficult to cut, so there are only few pieces in my collection. Generally I would mainly look for smaller size shells and create a composition with other shells like the Haliotis, as featured in this article, which first appeared in Elle Magazine in 2013. See page 83.