When American chanteuse Toni Braxton released her single “Unbreak My Heart” in 1996, she cemented her legacy in the pantheon of pop music icons who have perfectly captured the loneliness and torment of heartbreak in song. Pop music’s laments to love lost run from The Beatles “Yesterday” to Adele’s “Easy On Me,” although our favorite might still be Kelly Clarkson’s “Since You Been Gone,” which perhaps most accurately invokes the spirit of llyn strong’s Unbreakable Heart necklace collection.
Ms. Clarkson’s 2004 song captures the other side of heartbreak: getting and starting over. “Since you’ve been gone/I can breathe for the first time/I’m so moving on,” Ms. Clarkson sings. Greenville, SC jewelry designer, llyn strong, shared a similar sentiment in describing her Unbreakable Heart Collection.
“What I wanted to capture as an artist with the Unbreakable Hearts,” she explained, “is two things: first, and maybe primarily, I wanted to express the lived experience of true love. For those of us who experience true love, it often feels—at least it did to me—like a bond that could never be broken. But, second, I wanted these pieces to say that the heart can’t be broken by love. It can be temporarily damaged, sure, but not broken because we always have the chance, the opportunity, to love and be loved again.”
One can see the second part of llyn’s intention with the necklace “Uplifted” from this year’s collection. Crafted with 18k yellow and white gold, oxidized sterling silver, and rusted iron, “Uplifted” features .44 carats of colored gemstones and 18k white and yellow gold butterfly wings. Love lifts us up, but like butterflies, love also transforms and changes shape—it can be made and remade.
As llyn explains about her visionary designs: “I am not trying to say that love is false. Of course, love is not false! It is an emotional response that is felt strongly by everyone—or very nearly everyone. But love does evolve: think about your relationship to your spouse. It’s likely very different when you’re in your sixties compared to your forties or twenties. When I started this collection, I thought it would be a novel approach to make jewelry from pieces of rusted iron I found.” Her Unbreakable Heart necklaces point to the idea of evolving love in their very manufacture.
Each necklace in the Unbreakable Heart Collection is indeed made from pieces of rusted iron that llyn strong has found (although today, friends and fans of hers will sometimes send her pieces of iron that they discover on the ground.) Known as Found Object Art, what llyn strong shows in the creation of these pieces is an evolution. Just as love evolves over time, the necklaces undergo a similar alteration—from discarded scrap left to rust to luxury artisanal jewelry.
Describing love’s evolution is, in many ways, describing love itself. As one philosopher put it, the difference between early love and mature love is the difference between loving things about a person and loving the person themselves. “When we are still new to a love affair,” he states, “we typically list all the things that we love about the person. For example, I love that she is so beautiful, so kind, so smart. But, as relationships grow and mature, we typically say, I love that person. I love their soul.”
As llyn strong’s Unbreakable Heart Collection shows, one might say we are first “Carried Away” by our feelings for our beloved, until we come to the understanding that we are made for them, and they for us. At this stage, love might feel as if it has been ordained from above. We might feel, as we mature with our beloved in our relationship with them, that we have received a “Heaven Sent Heart.”
We encourage you to commemorate this Valentine’s Day with a custom-made necklace from the Unbreakable Heart Collection. Each piece celebrates love’s many stages by transforming and stabilizing found iron pieces, combining them with silver, gold and diamonds or gemstones. llyn strong wants each of our customers to discover their unbreakable heart, however and wherever they appear.