Birks meets Beetle Mania

Jewellery designer Caroline Arbour brings her beetle-themed jewellery to Birks Montreal flagship.

Twenty years ago, jewellery designer and sculptor Caroline Arbour, who is based in Abitibi-Témiscamingue, was in Quebec City when she had an up-close encounter with a two-inch-long scarab. There are about 30,000 types of scarab species around the world, but the one Arbour met was what’s known as a longhorned beetle with two distinct antennae. An unlikely muse, this creature spurred her interest in beetles, which would become her greatest source of inspiration and the emblem of her brand, Scaro (the name itself is an amalgamation of the designer’s name and the word “scarab”).

Caroline Arbour

Caroline Arbour turns her passion for nature into objets d’art, working her designs meticulously by hand.

This summer, some of Arbour’s deeply personal pieces made in sterling silver and gold, will be featured at the Birks Montreal flagship boutique on Phillips Square. All of her fine jewellery, which includes pieces for men, women and children (think necklaces, bracelets, earrings, rings, brooches and cufflinks), carries special significance. Some pieces even act as talismans or good luck charms. “The scarab is my alter ego,” she explains. “As an artist I’m very sensitive, and in the business world I need a shell. When I wear a piece like this, it gives me courage and strength and helps me feel grounded. I think we can all use an object that makes us feel that way.”

Lovingly sculpted by hand in wax before being cast in molten precious metals, the pieces are often embellished with precious stones and incorporate actual beetle elytra—the rigid part of the shell—from deceased insects Arbour collects. Themes of nature feature prominently throughout her work and can be seen, not only in her insect-inspired keepsakes but also in the natural textures that she incorporates into her wood-themed collection.

Scarac specimens and sculptures

Arbour’s aesthetic is informed by her most treasured objects including scarab specimens and sculptures, a book by Art Nouveau artist Alfons Mucha and a piece of lichen discovered near her home. Also pictured: hand-scultped wax-maquettes of her rings and a special storage container.

What stands out most about Arbour’s jewellery is that it is so filled with life and movement, and yet, there’s a profound strength and stillness embodied by these insects which appear to be frozen in time. “When I started sculpting insects, people used to say, ‘Eww, gross, I could never wear jewellery with bugs!’ But it didn’t stop me. Scarabs inspire me. They light up my world,” she says. Her jewellery has since been featured on the Quebec edition of talent show The Voice. The art of Arbour as a sculptor has been exhibited in New York, London and Hong Kong. Now comes the highlight of having her collection showcased at Birks’ Montreal flagship boutique on Phillips Square. “The fact that others now see their strength and beauty too touches me enormously.” 

 


Written by: Isa Tousignant / Photos by: Bruno Florin / Hair and makeup by: Eloïse Bourbeau