Efva Attling lights up a room. Her energy coupled with a straight-out-of-a-movie career path endlessly inspires us. We first encountered Efva when a friend showed off her Passion Cuffs ring; a punchy and ingenious design. We were hooked.
Efva is the beloved and top-selling Scandinavian jewelry designer. Her pieces are sculptural and modern, yet have femininity and warmth. Her ability to continuously reinvent herself and reveal new talents and dimensions is immediately apparent in the range of her collection.
We caught up with Efva as she was showing off her latest collection in Tribeca, and learned there are layers beneath the surface of this Swedish icon. -Jenna Fain for The Stone Set
You’ve had many paths in life. How did it all lead you to design jewelry?
I started to work with gold and silver when I was 17 after school but I was discovered by Eileen Ford and a 12-year modelling career began. When living and working in Milan I started to write music. I moved back to Sweden and sent a demo tape to my friend Benny Andersson of ABBA. He said, “Efva, this is no good. Please, go on with modelling.” I didn’t listen and formed a pop group and called it the X Models. I had a huge hit with a song I wrote myself, “Two of Us,” which gave me two gold records. Benny later apologized! In the 8os, I was also working as a fashion editor and I designed clothes for H&M. Oh, I forgot, I was also a TV host with my own show. In 1996, I took up designing jewelry again.
My philosophy is to inspire and empower women and men with what I create. Just like I did when I was singing and writing words, I want to move people. I want to connect. That’s why my jewelry has expressions and names. I believe jewelry is about expressing yourself, your emotions, memories and love. So, I call my jewelry Beauty with a Thought.
How did your career prepare you to become a jewelry designer?
I needed 27 years to mature and get the experience, the knowledge of the human kind, the travelling, listening to other people’s life stories, the patience of having two children and to learn that life has its ups and downs. That’s what my collections are all about today.
What are your current favorite pieces? Which do you wear every day?
I’m always in love with my latest pieces and at the moment, it’s my new collection Reflections which reminds of the 60s era, Mary Quant and Courrèges. The sterling silver pieces reflect the light and are really statement pieces.
I wear two rings everyday, my wedding ring with 50 diamonds on one side and a secret inscription on the other side, and on my other hand I wear a ring I call Clouds, inspired by my mother’s ring from the 30th century. I’ve got gold stars in my ears and often, because of the shaky time we live in, a Mini Peace sign with diamonds around my neck.
How does Sweden inform and inspire your designs?
Sweden is a modern country, interested in fashion and design. We Swedes are quite low-key and have a simple and minimalistic design language. It’s in our DNA. Not so much frills here. It’s a Scandinavian design wind coming in all over the world.
How does spending time in New York impact your sense of style?
The sky is high for every designer to live in New York. To just sit on a bench in the subway looking at people is so inspiring. Like, “How did she think when she dressed herself like that this morning?” Well, I believe she thought she was just beautiful…and who am I to judge.
What’s an average day like for you?
There is no average day for me. One day I’m at the office having a press day meeting Vogue, Elleor you. Another day I’ll go to the Met to see the Irving Penn exhibition for inspiration and maybe try to see Iris Apfel while I’m uptown. Somedays I can be at home making sketches for my jewellery or eyewear collections. I travel a lot between New York, Stockholm, and Italy and the Swedish archipelago, Oslo and Helsinki. You can say I really live a nomad’s life.
Is it true that you’ve collaborated with the Beatles?!
I was asked to design a Beatles collection inspired by their song titles. The Beatles was my first music love. I made “Here Comes the Sun,” a necklace in 18k gold with Herkimer diamonds. I had a message from Olivia Harrison, the wife of George, that she loved that piece. I made a “Two of Us” bracelet in Herkimer diamonds, “It’s Only Love” necklace in 18k and Herkimer diamonds, and a “Let it Be” pin for the guys as well. I met Sir Paul McCartney at an event with Stella and told him when I was working on the collection. I’m such a Beatles fan and I was so proud to get the question.
What advice would you give to to other women forging their own paths?
Go your own way. Do not lose your dream. Remember we are here a short time but we’ll be dead a very long time.
Photography by Emerald Carroll for The Stone Set