THE MAKER - Johanna Brierley

Johanna - age 3 (Gimli, Manitoba)



Her work incorporates metal replicas of beach stones found on the shores of Lake Winnipeg in a town called Gimli. The stones she finds have natural holes in them. No one seems to know for certain why these stones have these holes or why this area seems to have an unusual frequency of these ‘holy’ stones. The stones might be fossils or remains of natural erosion. Whatever the case, the stones when cast in sterling silver, gold, bronze and brass become natural and somewhat familiar ornaments harkening back to the time when people adorned themselves with rocks, twigs, dried berries.


The molding and casting processes of jewellery making allow her to repeat shapes that ordinarily exist as single, unique, natural elements. Repeating what is normally solitary enables the creation of new shapes, structures and patterns while transforming natural stone into metal allows for the setting of diamonds and sapphires among the metal beach stones. The humble act of discovering and picking up a pebble on the beach becomes the beginning of a process of recontextualizing natural forms to work with and on the body.



Johanna Brierley’s lifelong fascination with jewellery can be traced back to a childhood spent rummaging through her grandmother’s jewellery chest. From an early age, she developed an enthusiasm for found objects and a curiosity about the various ways in which an object worn on a body will interact with the body itself. For generations, Johanna's family has been collecting lucky stones with natural holes because hole stones are believed to be symbols of good luck. As a child, Johanna made numerous jewellery pieces incorporating lucky stones only to discover that over time, the real stones would crack and break.Whether she is discovering shiny, unusual shapes of glass and stone along the beach or scouring antique markets for objects with a unique past, Johanna’s work is informed by her passion for collecting and her eye for the exceptional and the unexpected. 



Since registering her business in 2007, Johanna Brierley Jewellery Design is becoming more and more recognized for unique and timeless pieces of jewellery inspired by lucky stones. It wasn't until studying Jewellery Arts at George Brown College in Toronto that Johanna was able to solve her dilemma of the breaking lucky stones. By learning the processes of molding and lost wax casting, Johanna turned her lucky stones into silver and gold giving the natural shapes strength and durability. Johanna mold and cast her first lucky stone, a stone with a hole in the shape of a heart she named Lucky in Love, in 2000. Johanna now works in her studio in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada and hopes to share the luck she has found through her pieces of jewellery.