From its Vancouver studio, Pyrrha is making an indelible mark on film and television by creating unique talisman jewellery that holds meaning beyond its beauty.

By Coleman Molnar

ABOVE: Danielle and Wade Papin, co-founders of Pyrrha

In the 2017 movie Wonder, Julia Roberts wears two pieces of jewellery, each hand selected by the actor herself to help tell the tale of her character, Isabel Pullman, a mother whose son with a rare facial deformity is entering public school for the first time. Around her neck hangs a talisman depicting a pair of eagles over the Latin inscription ‘Dum Spiro Spero’, which translates to “while I breathe I hope.” On her finger is a ring bearing a sparrow, a symbol of higher thought, with a sprig of leaves in its beak.

Pyrrha, a Canadian jewellery company that handcrafts all of its products from its Vancouver studio, has found itself on the rolodex of many A-list celebrities, designers, and stylists. Because beyond its striking appearance, each piece of Pyrrha jewellery stands as a symbol for something greater.

“It’s really satisfying for us when we see our pieces being used not just as an accessory, but as an actual part of the story,” says Danielle Papin who co-founded the company with her partner Wade in 1995. “I think that’s just such a huge compliment, anybody using our work to make a mark like that.”

Drawing from a collection of thousands of old world emblems and imagery, Pyrrha’s artisans create talisman pendants, necklaces, and rings, each with its own unique and intended meaning. This catalogue of options combined with the rough-hewn quality makes the brand’s offerings so enticing to a wide variety of storytellers, including wardrobe stylists looking to build a character through clothing and accessories. Because of this, Pyrrha has been quietly making on-screen cameos for years, having starred in Tully alongside Charlize Theron, A Mountain Between Us with Kate Winslet, Gone Girl with Ben Affleck and Rosamund Pike, and even Star Trek: Beyond. And the inspiration flows both ways: Game of Thrones commissioned pieces representing the fictional world’s various houses.

The Pyrrha x GoT collection, and hundreds of other men’s and women’s pieces (including its latest launch: the fine jewelley collection) are available on Pyrrha’s website as well as at its brick and mortar boutique in Los Angeles—the appeal of a large selection of such meaningful jewellery evidently not lost on the public. In fact, it was when Papin and her partner stumbled across a box of old wax seals and began creating talisman jewellery instead of the “basic colours and shapes” that they began with that the company’s momentum really picked up.

“We found people were connecting with our jewellery in a way they hadn’t before,” says Papin. “All of a sudden they were really attached to these things and wearing them all the time. They weren’t just wearing it as an accessory to an outfit or buying it because it was blue; they were really attached to it.”

Julia Roberts felt such an attachment, and it carries over from screen to real life. Her husband gifted her a Mum talisman for Mother’s Day, which she’s often spotted wearing.

But the focus has never been on creating costumes for celebrities and their latest project—Pyrrha’s goalposts do not frame the Hollywood sign. The designers and their team have always been focussed on meaning and craftsmanship. It just so happens that meaning and craftsmanship are two qualities that the film industry can’t get enough of.

Julia Roberts wearing a Pyrrha talisman in Wonder (2017/ eOne Films)

In 2006, Reese Witherspoon commissioned 14-karat gold talismans for the crew of Penelope (where Christina Ricci plays a girl born with a pig snout). The one-of-a-kind pieces featured a silhouette of Ricci’s famous swine face, and were engraved with the date of the movie’s premiere at TIFF.