Company Profile: nannasalmi

Special feature: nannasalmi, artisan jewellery for equestrians.

To a dedicated horse lover, sometimes it feels like our equine friends are not on this earth for long enough. Our time together is short, even if the memories last a lifetime.

nannasalmi is a boutique jewellery company with a difference. Designer Nanna Salmi creates rings, bracelets and necklaces from her studio in Lahti, Finland. She has a background as a textile artist but has also designed gardens, interiors and small buildings. However, nannasalmi custom pieces are made using a unique material: horse hair.

When I hold a hair bundle in my hand it starts to tell me a story. That is the inspiration for every ribbon I make.

Nanna didn’t ride as a child, but after moving to the country in her 40s she decided to take lessons as an adult. While she was nervous initially, she fell in love with horses and riding. After learning on riding school horses, she had the opportunity to purchase Anitte Stensgård (‘Nitte’), an 18 year old Oldenburg-Hanoverian mare. The first inspiration to make horsehair jewellery came from Nitte.

I would hold her tail hair in my hand and wonder if it would be possible to make a strong ribbon using her hair, and that it would be interesting to try to do something that nobody had done or seen before.

Nanna’s first piece of jewellery was a necklace, a birthday gift for the barn owner where Nitte was kept. The hair was taken from three mares, representing three generations of breeding. A local goldsmith created a tiny snaffle bit to complete the piece. The barn owner began to cry when her gift was presented – it was a very emotional moment. Everyone who saw this first necklace admired it, and several people expressed interest in having their own custom jewellery made. Nanna realised that her idea really struck a chord with other horse owners, who loved the idea of such a unique memento. Sensing that she could create something very special, Nanna started to use her expertise with textiles to refine her designs.

The most natural way for me was to try to make a miniature textile with hair. I had seen jewellery made out of plaited or somehow twisted and twined hair, but I wanted to do something more lasting, sophisticated and configurable with patterns and colors.

From a necklace intended to be a one-off gift, nannasalmi was born. Nanna soon discovered that horsehair is a challenging medium.