Silver Medals: Celebrate Gold w/ Birks 2010 Winter Olympics Jewelry Collection

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BIRKS Vancouver 2010 Winter Olympics Collection - Maple Leaf Charm (front)

Feeling kinda proud to be Canadian right now, aren't we? Proud of Alex Bilodeau for being the first to win Canadian Gold on Canadian soil, of Jenn Heil who scored Silver, of Kristina Groves who snagged a speedskating Bronze... so how about some more silver?

Silver as in Birks' 2010 Winter Games collection, which celebrates Canada's aboriginal culture as well as the Olympics. Nature-inspired elements such as bears, birds, trees and a Squamish legend of surviving a great flood reinforce the theme as well as pay hommage to the BC landscape. (Jenn Heil's silver for Birks is worth a hotlink, too.)

Most represented is the official Winter Olympics emblem, a contemporary interpretation of an inukshuk, the Inuit rock structure and navigational marker. Called Ilanaaq, which means "friend" in the Inuktitut language, "it's something we can all embrace," says Birks design director Marion Cameron. "It's uniquely Canadian and stands for hope and friendship, which also has great meaning for the games."

The designer's mandate was to incorporate official graphic images sanctioned by the Vancouver Olympic Committee (VANOC) in a line that captures the spirit of the games, the Birks brand and the Birks consumer as well as fans of the sports. Rather than feeling constrained by restrictions, Cameron says she was inspired. "It was a very natural fit," she says. "Most of [the Olympic brand team's] forms are fairly fluid with no sharp corners, which fit my natural design instincts, too."

Among Cameron's favourite pieces is a charm bracelet -- "I used nature symbols from some of the [approved] artwork, a little man and different animals because they're light and fresh and cute" -- and a necklace with three pendants. "Our triple pendant has a playful feeling. I'm pleased with it because it merges what I would have done anyway with the symbolic things they handed me."

The Birks collection includes cufflinks and lifestyle items such as key rings, drink charms, even a charm for cel phones. "We also did one for each sport, tailored to people who want the memory of a particular event," says Cameron.

Most pieces are sterling silver to keep prices accessible as well as to give the collection a modern yet timeless quality. "We're talking about a form of souvenir, but it's not a souvenir you use for a week then toss into a drawer," says Cameron. "It's a souvenir you want to live with for a while."

A version of this story appeared in the Metro News. Birks 2010 Winter Games Collection Maple Leaf Charm, $65. Image courtesy of birks.com.