Living Ind

Swamp Bloom

by Mary Tutwiler

The lotus flower and hurricane recovery efforts provide inspiration for a local jewelry maker.

Jeweler Chris Des Jardins had only been back in Louisiana for six months when Hurricane Katrina hit. “I wanted to do something to help with the recovery,” she says. Every other jewelry maker seemed to be concentrating on using the fleur de lis, a stylized lily that is the symbol of the Kings of France and the city of New Orleans. Des Jardins found another south Louisiana plant that caught her fancy — the lotus. The fragrant water flower grows wild in the swamps. “It was perfect,” Des Jardins says. “The flower and seed pod rise high out of the muck, representing the spirit’s ability to bloom in any circumstance.” She particularly loved the Cajun name for lotus, graine à voler, “seeds that fly.” (The oval shaped seedpod shoots its seeds into the air.) “That was what I was looking for, the organic shape combined with symbol of hope,” she says.

Des Jardins casts the seed pod in silver, then fills the small holes with “seeds” of sterling silver or semi-precious stones — pearls, garnets, jade or amethyst. She makes pendants and earrings, or will string necklaces to match the seed pod’s accent stones. The design is elegant and subtle. After 30 years of studying Buddhism in Idaho, she says the lotus was the ideal representation for her, both in her move back home and in her desire to create a symbol of renewal after the storm. Des Jardins donates a percentage of the sales to Habit for Humanity to help with the rebuilding of New Orleans.

Des Jardins’ lotus jewelry can be found at Beaucoup Beads (111 Rena Drive, 991-0411) and Sans Souci Fine Crafts Gallery (219 E. Vermilion St., 266 7999). For more information, visit or contact Chris Des Jardins at 254-8427.