Sculptor and Jewelry Designer Bibi Van Der Velden Is Selling Special-Edition Earrings to Benefit Ukraine

100 percent of the proceeds are earmarked for UNICEF's efforts to aid Ukrainian children and child refugees.

Wearing Bibi van der Velden's Ukrainian Alligator earrings. Courtesy of the designer.

For Bibi van der Velden, jewelry isn’t just adornment: it is sculpture with “a clear concept and raison d’être,” as she said—or in other words, “art with a purpose.” This is certainly true for the Dutch sculptor and designer’s latest release, which reimagines her iconic alligator earrings in tribute to the people of Ukraine.

Crafted from 18-carat gold, and featuring the colors of the Ukrainian flag with their bodies of hand-carved yellow citrine and blue topaz and their blue and yellow sapphire eyes, these alligators do more than adorn earlobes: Van der Velden is covering all costs and donating 100 percent of the proceeds to UNICEF, earmarked for its efforts to aid Ukrainian children—73,000 of whom have become refugees on average each day over the last three weeks.

“The alligator for me is a symbol of perseverance,” Van der Velden explained by phone from her home outside of Lisbon, Portugal. “It’s this fearless, prehistoric animal that shows its adaptability and will to live.” She also noted that topaz “is associated with compassion and building bridges between people, while citrine strengthens endurance.”

Bibi van der Velden's Ukrainian Alligator. Courtesy of the designer.

Bibi van der Velden’s Ukrainian Alligator. Courtesy of the designer.

Though she has no familial connections to Ukraine, the cause hits close to home for Van der Velden: Her grandfather sheltered Jewish children in the Netherlands during WWII, and while visiting a kibbutz as a student in 1973, just as the Yom Kippur war broke out, her mother spent weeks trapped in a bomb shelter as fighting raged around her.

Now, in addition to the alligator earrings project, Van der Velden is continuing in her grandfather’s footsteps as she and her family welcome refugees from Ukraine into their own home.

While many of Van der Velden’s designs are produced in limited editions, this is an “unlimited edition,” still signed and numbered “so you will know you are one of the many that has helped to make a difference,” as stated on her website, “as the Ukrainians need our unlimited support.”

Earrings available here for €5,240 (US $5,720).

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