When Anna Fanigina, a student of Riga school of design and art, peeked into a Latin dictionary to find out the root of the word pectoral for her thesis, she didn’t close the reference book at once. Other, peculiar, funny, or even historical words and phrases attracted her attention.
This is how Verba was born – a jewellry brand with a motto ‘adbibere verba puro pectore’, which means “take these words in a pure heart”.
Anna doesn’t try to teach her customers ancient wisdom; she chooses the words she feels are right and which could help the wearer to express their feelings and beliefs. “This is purely the willingness to share, to show things which I believe are interesting,” she says.
Verba means “words” in Latin, but Russian-speakers immediately think of pussy-willow (the word verba’s meaning in Russian), with its silvery, soft, and oval flowers, seen in spring. Anna is very proud of this word-play in her brand name: her works indeed give the impression of tenderness and softness associated with this plant.
A student of advanced mathematics, Anna soon realised that her chosen profession of teaching was not for her. “Although I respect clear and logical structure of maths and I apply these principles in my artistic career,” laughs Anna. “I am using my mathematical sense to feel whether the piece is aligned with my concept of the world. There should be
nothing unnecessary, everything should have its own place.”
Her jewellery works indeed have nothing extraneous, not too much in the way of fancy decoration, yet they are perfectly finished in their artful simplicity. The artist herself is very much in tune with her creations: minimalistic, reserved in her style and with pleasant, regular features. But at the same time she has a completely finished image, of which her own jewellery is an intrinsic part.
Verba offers several collections. The first one is Verba, the beginning of Anna’s career as a jeweller and artist, featuring items made from silver with inscriptions in Latin. Although Anna extensively uses silver for these items, her signature material is electrum – an alloy of gold and silver mixed about equally. “It was used by ancient Greeks, since they couldn’t extract pure gold in nature,” explains Anna.
The next collection is Teres – rings and earrings made with semiprecious stones.
Teres means ‘oval’ or ‘round’, and these stones are indeed very curvacious and tender, especially rose quartz, one of the master’s favourites. She also likes amethyst and aquamarine.
The third collection, Ursis, has its origins in a successful exhibition; customers liked the adorable and slightly melancholic stuffed bear featured on the range of rings and brooches – a bear who shares his thoughts in Latin. The items are available in local galleries and shops with designer jewellery in Riga, Vilnius, and in Russia. Verba is currently looking to start partnerships with galleries in Tallinn as well.
We talked about Verba in Anna’s workshop, a light, not excessively big room with three working tables, full of tools and works in process. Besides Anna, there are three more people working on Verba products. A small oval table invites visitors for a cup of tea close to a neat black wood-burning stove, otherwise the room is quite chilly. “These rooms belonged to Riga film production studio in the 1920-1930s”, says Anna.
I noticed an interesting, clearly Verba-style piece on Anna’s finger, which turned out to
be her latest creation. The ensemble of three small rings with three stones and a sentence in Latin under them “but the greatest of these is love”, a reference to the famous passage from Corinthians 13. The stone which symbolises love is also a bit bigger than the others – an elegant ring containing a profound idea. ”I did it for myself. This idea is close to my heart, that is why I created this,” says Anna.
Verba pieces and their creator leave a comforting feeling that I have talked to an artist who has a strong connection to her work, an artist whose brand image comes naturally but declares itself firmly and clearly through each and every small piece and idea that comes along.