Colours of Places in Vietnam by Melany Wimpee

The thing that peaked my interest about the colours of Vietnam was the extreme subtlety. I was shocked by the incredible geographic variation that was created by a complete lack of saturated colour. The entire landscape is covered in a distinct haze of grey/green/blue.

The coastline in northern Vietnam at Ha Long Bay boasts some of the most dramatic hilltops plunging into the water and creating tons of small islands. It is quite possibly the only place I have ever seen that I would describe as monochromatic. It is mostly grey with the slightest tint of greenish blue. The islands fade into the distance in a dense moisture of air forming a layered panoramic.

The countryside in the south is identified by colours that you might expect: tan sand, green plants, blue sky – except toned WAY down. It is almost like a gradient how the soft colour of the sand is picked up in the stocks of the bamboo and the light green of the bamboo blossoms into leaves that flutter with glimpses of the light blue sky. Everything appears to be covered in a light grey coating making the change in colour barely noticeable. Note: I do not have an image that shows this properly so I found this one on the internet and it mostly gets the idea across.

The colours of the light at sunset are just as unique to a place as the colour of the land and daylight. Surprisingly, the otherwise restrained colours of southern Vietnam come to life at dusk. The warm, vibrant orange sunset unveils the blue of the sky and reveals the lush green of the grasses. Water surrounds the tall grass reflecting the momentary transition of the sky as though everything is lit on fire. Note: This picture is in fact blurry. I accepted that there was no way to capture the moment with a camera and was distracted noting every detail in my mind.

Drawing Places: Vientiane, Laos by Melany Wimpee

In New York I found myself sketching some really amazing places just for practice. The Brooklyn Bridge and St. Patrick’s Cathedral were perfect subjects for the art nerd in me. With a new sketchpad in hand, I am testing out my very rusty drawing skills on a few new places. Today I am feeling nostalgic for a fabulous day in Vientiane, Laos at the top of the Patuxal Gate.

Be Merry and Happy by Melany Wimpee

Merry Christmas from Koh Tao and a Happy New Year from Koh Phi Phi!

After a frantic build up to Christmas, making jewellery for my first design market in Melbourne, I left it all behind for Christmas and New Years relaxing on the beaches of Thailand. Hopping from island to island, I have spent the days learning to scuba dive (which I am terrible at but now certified to do) and evenings watching the fire entertainment accompanied by loud music and new friends.

There are inspirations everywhere! However, that is not the point. It is as Amelia Earhart said, “Adventure is worthwhile in itself." Next stops Loas and Vietnam!

The Background: Phantom Diamond by Melany Wimpee


Design Description

The Phantom Diamond Ring was designed as an exploration of light and shadow. It uses negative space to allow light to pass through, creating the distinct reflection of a diamond on the hand. It is a passing phenomenon that occurs only when the light hits it just right.

The ring offers an untraditional take on a diamond ring. It is a modest, metal band in silver or gold that rejects the notion of jewellery as a status symbol, a theme that repeats throughout MelanyBE’s collections. It creates intriguing questions around what is not there and reveals the intense expectations associated with the symbolic nature of jewellery. The fleeting quality of the diamond’s reflections mirrors the anticipation associated with the tradition of receiving such a ring while rejecting the notion that a diamond is forever.


Light and shadow is one of my favourite things to observe and play around with. I have designed everything from architecture to books investigating momentary shadows. To appeal to the public a design usually needs to be a little familiar and relatable. As a designer I want to push limits and explore new things. Working with ephemeral qualities allows me to design on two levels, meeting both requirements.

This ring is the most popular ring by MelanyBE and has been since it was made a couple of years ago. One of the highlights for me as a jewellery designer was being asked to make a special Phantom Diamond Ring as an engagement ring for a very forward thinking bride-to-be. I have just organised production of this ring in Australia and in silver.

Colours of Places in Australia by Melany Wimpee

One of the most unique things about places is their colour palette. Each one has something distinct that makes it special to see. I’ve wanted to try to capture the essence of a place using fewer than 10 colours.  Since I have been road-tripping around Australia, I figured it would make the most sense to start with the colours I see time and time again down under.

Inland Victoria has an incredibly saturated blue sky, dark green plants, and tall yellow grasses that look as though they are glistening in the light, nearly white. Every now and again the rich orange/red clay ground peaks through.

Coastal Australia, is characterized by is super clear water revealing its depth overtop the whiter than white sand. The expansive sky pales in comparison to the water below creating a subtle horizon of blue and aqua.

I do not know why but Sydney seems to have a different palette from the rest of Australia. It is a series of royal blues, one more saturated than the next. The white sand is less warm than the rest of Australia. It is more grey like rocks and is perfectly reflected in the materials of the Opera House. There is a line of plantings that looks lush with a cast of the blue that surrounds it.

I haven’t been to the outback yet but I am looking forward to adding it soon

Wandering for Inspiration by Melany Wimpee

Seen on a napkin at a new rooftop bar in Melbourne, I was reminded of one of my favourite quotes by J.R.R.Tolkien, “Not all who wander are lost.”  I was contemplating this notion on my recent trip to the Whitsunday Islands in Queensland. Sailing around uninhabited islands with white sandy beaches alongside dolphins, fish aplenty and eagles overhead, I couldn’t feel more content wandering.

The Background: Shark's Tooth by Melany Wimpee


Design Description

The Shark’s Tooth Ring is designed to create the illusion that a fine band holds the large tooth on the finger. The form is reduced to the simplest connection emphasizing the contrast of the two parts. The tooth is organic, sharp, unpolished, and massive. The band is geometric, smooth, polished and delicate. The ring was designed as a series of explorations between minimalism in two extremes – embracing natural form and seeking refinement in machine-like perfection. Ultimately the tooth is nature’s triangle.

The combination of detailed organic shapes and clean-lined geometries stems from MelanyBE’s previous collections, incorporating the “Animals” theme and the reductive process of the more minimal collections.  As always, it draws from diverse fabrication methods incorporating sculptural elements with constructed ones.

The ring marks the re-introduction of silver to the MelanyBE collection. Appropriate to the tooth motif, the new collections will be made from solid sterling silver. The new level of quality ensures the ring will never chip or fade.

The Shark’s Tooth Ring is created and produced in Australia.


I have always loved sharks’ teeth! I do not know why but ever since I was a kid I’ve been obsessed with looking for teeth at the beach. I decided more than a couple years ago that I wanted to find a way to use a shark’s tooth for a design. I picked up a real tooth in Mexico and brought it with me all the way to Australia. I have seen other jewellery designers use sharks’ teeth and considered scrapping the idea. Ultimately I went ahead with it simply because I wanted to wear it!

Design Description and Anecdote by Melany Wimpee

 Photo Credit: Holly Mills (because I lost my camera in a park with monkeys)

Photo Credit: Holly Mills (because I lost my camera in a park with monkeys)

Let me introduce and simultaneously reject the concept of “art wank”. This is a commonly used expression to refer to the very serious explanations of art that usually come with an overinflated sense of importance. This is the result of two things. First, people in the art business are pretty passionate and they get very excited by these things. Second, I think it helps sell the work. Whatever the reasons, it creates a disconnection between art and real life.

David Walsh has an amazing/hilarious solution for this at MONA. If you are not familiar, MONA is a privately owned museum in Tasmania that has taken a radically different approach to the art museum experience. (I could write pages on this place but I will leave it for another day) The pieces at MONA have a traditional description, which is not so subtly titled “art wank” with an even less subtle icon of a penis. In addition to this, David – neither artist nor critic – provides his candid comments about the work.

My favourite example of this is for the installation Queen (A Portrait of Madonna), where he comments that he has always hated Madonna and that is why he liked this piece and that he heard the same artist portrayed John Lennon this way and he did not want to see that one. 

I mention this because I will use a similar method to introduce my work. I will use the terms “design description” as a less graphic phrase for art wank and “anecdote” to give a more direct explanation. It is all true, so read whichever you prefer, or just look at the pictures.