Ever wondered who made the stunning jewellery for Game of Thrones? Well, read on...
Crafting Jewellery Fit For a King
Brona Steenson-Spencer and her husband Dan run Steensons Jewellers and personally handcrafted many of the stunning pieces of jewellery you might have lusted after in Game of Thrones.
I had a chat to Brona about how she got involved with the show, what materials they used, and how it feels to see your creations adorning the characters in the show.
How did you get involved in making jewellery for Game of Thrones?
We were involved from the first series, before it became the phenomenon it is today. Northern Ireland and in particular its creative industries, are relatively small community of people. I have known Donna Hughes, Wardrobe Mistress for Game of Thrones and Costume Designer, since we were teenagers and at Art College together. She was working in the costume department of Game of Thrones from the first pilot, so when the department said they were looking for local goldsmiths to make some pieces for the series, she put our name forward. My father went in for a meeting with Michele Clapton, Head Costume Designer, and it went from there.
We made the most numerous pieces for Series One, including Robert Baratheon’s crown, Jon Ayrrn’s Hand of the King chain, Cersei and Sansa’s lion pendants, Littlefinger's mockingbird pin, brooches for Lysa and her son Robin, and Dragon brooches for Daenerys and her brother Viserys.
Did you design the pieces yourself?
No, the designs are created by Michele Clapton and her costume team at HBO. At the beginning we would get very detailed drawings of what the items were to look like and we had to interpret and adapt them into what was achievable in metal. As the series went on we would get more of a concept of what they wanted and had a little more freedom on how the piece would look. But the piece has to fit with the rest of the actor's costume, which we don’t see, so we send ‘work in progress’ images back and forth to the costume team to make sure they are happy with how it looks. Sometimes they make changes along the way, sometimes not.
What materials are used in the creation of the jewellery?
Sterling silver is used a lot as most of the things we are making are being cast, which silver is best for. If it needs to look gold, then we gold plate it.
Joffery and Margaery’s crowns were handcut from sheet brass. The roses were made from copper clay and then silver wire was entwined throughout for vines. We use many traditional silversmithing techniques as well as new technologies. Cersei’s crown was made completely on CAD software, then milled in wax, before casting in silver and hand constructing.
Do you have a favourite piece that you created for a character?
I enjoyed creating Cersei’s crown as it was technically challenging for me, utilising the 15 years of CAD experience I have to the full! My husband Dan made Joffery’s and Margaery’ crowns in brass and I made the copper roses that went into them out of copper clay. I enjoyed this a lot as it brought me back to using my ceramic skills, as I actually did my BA Hons degree in ceramics, not jewellery!
How does is feel to watch the show and see work that you created?
That’s definitely the fun bit, you kind of go… 'did I really make that?' The pieces look stunning when combined with the amazing work by the costume and set design teams. There must be a few hundred creative people all smiling saying ‘I made that’ at any given scene! My favourite is probably 'The Purple Wedding' were I can see both crowns, Margaery’s bridal necklace and Sansa’s poisonous necklace all in the same scene!
What is the difference between the pieces you made for the show and your Game of Thrones-inspired jewellery range?
We have taken elements that we have used in the show pieces, such as the lion head from Cersei’s pendant, or the roses from the Tyrell belts, and created something more wearable. The jewellery Steenson's has been designing for 40 years is very contemporary, clean-lined design, a world away from Westeros. I suppose we wanted to bridge this gap, design something fans of the show would still love, but could be worn in everyday life. Most people can’t go to work wearing a Joffery crown, but they can go wearing a pair of direwolf cufflinks!
Can fans come and visit your workshop?
Yes, our workshop is located in Glenarm, in the Glens of Antrim where some of the film locations can be found.
We are open to the public Mon – Sat 9.30 -5pm. From our showroom you can see our goldsmiths creating our unique designs and our work is on display. We have a Game of Thrones cabinet that displays our exclusive GoT Collection and are sales staff are happy to talk to fans about the show and what we created for them.
Thanks so much Brona! Your work is absolutely stunning.