Growing up on Cumberland Island, a 17.5-mile-extended island that’s a guarded National Seashore off the coastline of Ga, established Gogo Ferguson’s career as a jewellery designer into movement. For her, every find in mother nature is an inspiration—from an armadillo shell to racoon penis bones to seaweed to sea urchins. And they are all reworked into practical homewares and jewellery, cast in gold, sterling silver and vermeil.
“For the most section, you cannot enhance on nature’s types,” she suggests.
Ferguson, who’s also a descendant of the Carnegie family, is renowned for her operate. She was honored by Atlanta’s Higher Museum with a 25-calendar year retrospective of her function has created jewellery gifted to dignitaries at the G8 Summit on Sea Island Ga and for the Atlanta Olympics and her operate is in two Presidential collections, as effectively as flicks including Tomorrowland and Den of Robbers. Moreover, she made wedding ceremony rings for her dear friends, the late John F. Kennedy Jr. and Carolyn Bessette, who ended up married on Cumberland Island.
Now, the island continues to be her most important home, and you can discover her pieces all in excess of the world—including the gift store at Sarasota Artwork Museum. We caught up with Ferguson to understand far more about her charmed upbringing and distinctive jewelry.
Who was your imaginative inspiration?
“My grandmother, who was deaf from scarlet fever, lived on Cumberland Island for a lot more than 30 several years. She understood each individual sq. inch of the island. We would stroll the tide line in research of new treasures and then adorn ourselves, and our houses, with our observed items. I was fascinated by how wonderfully and exactly an [animal] skeleton in shape collectively. She taught us how to respect land and to glance at nature in diverse way.”
You have turned your enjoy of mother nature into a profession. How did the principle for your jewellery line arrive to you?
“Being on Cumberland Island grounds me. I was a young, single mother and I wanted to figure out how to reside in this article and be unbiased. I was identified to make this firm work. And it did—it just retained growing. Now it’s a multi-million greenback enterprise, I’m represented all around the place, in Mexico and in Europe.
“The native inhabitants of the island would generate dolls manufactured of pottery, ladles from conch shells, and adornments from shark’s teeth. I can convey to where the middens are, so I know wherever to appear for these treasures.
“I’ve also been impressed by [the native inhabitants’] ability to drill a lengthwise conch bead, formed like a peg, for a ceremonial earpiece, which an archaeologist informed me was created for a substantial-level tribesperson. That’s a little something that I can’t even do with my diamond bit drill!”
Will you share a memorable minute you experienced in mother nature?
“A pair years in the past, Cumberland Island skilled two undesirable back again-to-again hurricanes. To me, that intended that treasures could discovered on the beach. I’m 1 of those persons who can zero in on a shark’s tooth more rapidly than anyone—like a Springer spaniel. And, at initial light, I know in which to come across parts that are millions of yrs old, these camel enamel, a 25 lb. Woolly Mammoth molar, Megalodon shark tooth and Native American arrowheads, with correctly serrated flint.
“I have a passion for gathering these issues. But its much more than just that. There is anything energetic that occurs in the minute in advance of I link with one of these items that’s indescribable.”
If you could choose any individual in the earth, who would you layout for?
“Any working day of the week, I would design and style for Frida Kahlo, even even though she did not dress in a good deal of jewellery. What I admire about her artistic eye is how she would hone in on the specifics of nature, like a calla lily stamen. She saw nature as anything lovely. I relate to her in that I look at normal things in the exact same way. I have a extensive collection of anything from seed pods to bones that sits on a desk in my studio. I may possibly walk by for them for decades just before something speaks to me to me, then I analyze it in depth till it evokes a piece.
What about a trend property you’d like to collaborate with?
“I would appreciate to operate with Ralph Lauren. I have normally beloved his very simple but exquisite really feel and design. And he’s considerate about structure, too—careful to allow the natural structure guide mainly because it is gorgeous as it is, and does not need more adornment that will distract from it.”
And finally, what has moved you a short while ago?
“Given every thing that’s heading on in the entire world, I sense the turmoil of it all. Even so, I know that I am blessed to stay on this serene and peaceful island.
“When I read John Lennon’s son, Sean, sing Imagine lately in honor of Ukraine, I was moved. It meant so considerably back again then and but it nonetheless has the exact indicating today. Amazing.”