Saturday, July 18, 2015


In 1979, Ivaan was commissioned by the Art Gallery of Ontario to make a series of Egyptian themed jewellery for their first King Tutankhamun exhibition.  The scarab beetle was very important in ancient Egyptian culture, and Ivaan wanted to make one that looked real, not like a cartoon.  His first scarab ring had the beetle sitting sideways on the finger.  A lot of work went into it, but frankly it looked creepy, so I'm certain it never achieved much success.

However, his second scarab ring was a huge success and became perhaps the most popular piece of jewellery Ivaan ever made.  It's no exaggeration to say that hundreds of people wear an Ivaan scarab ring, either in gold, bronze or sterling silver, and some people have come back for seconds, either because they wore theirs out or because they wanted them in different metals.

It was our friend Vladyana Krykorka Johnson who single-handedly raised the scarab ring to iconic status.  She worked with Ivaan at Maclean Hunter Publishing in the 1970s, and when she first saw the scarab ring he made, she knew it was destined for her finger. Vladyana is an artist and illustrator; she has a million friends in the art world and in the Czech community at large, and when her friends saw what she called her "bug ring", they got in line behind her and got scarab rings of their own.  Now these people's children have their own  bug rings.
If you see someone wearing one of Ivaan's scarab rings, you can safely ask them: "Are you Czech?  Are you an artist?  Or are you an architect?" Guaranteed you will be right on one or more of these counts.  

One of the interesting factors about this ring is the price. It's a hundred and fifty dollars. It will always be a hundred and fifty dollars. Ivaan told me that we can't charge more for it because the people who love it are generally artists, and artists are historically not rich, so it is essential for them to have something beautiful that's within their financial reach.

Except if it's gold, in which case it's $150 plus the cost of the gold.  But the scarab is a symbol of reincarnation, so it will last a lifetime - and maybe more.

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