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Sunken Ship’s Jewellery Reborn in Unique Exhibition

The Village GoldsmithMEDIA RELEASE – FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE. Amber jewellery salvaged from the sunken ship, Mikhail Lermontov is reborn with a Kiwi twist in a unique exhibition in the Billiard’s room at Wellington’s Museum Hotel from Sunday October 28th.

Lermontov: Lost and Found features 24 works designed by The Village Goldsmith’s multi-award winning creative director, Ian Douglas. Each piece infuses the Baltic jewellery with paua to create striking new art forms.

The Mikhail Lermontov ran aground on rocks near Port Gore, Marlborough Sounds 26 years ago.

Mr Douglas says his vision of the exhibition is to preserve the character of the jewellery’s past but make original new works with obvious links to NZ.

“The works are extreme statements; larger-than-life works intended to show jewellery as an art form. We wanted to create new life from these once lost gems.”

The opportunity to showcase the work arose from Ian’s friendship with the Lermontov’s salvor, Bill Day. Bill dropped the bag of amber off to his mate during the salvage process but, being too busy with other work, Ian put the bag to one side. It was some 25 years later, after a phone call from a Swiss client requesting a pendant that infused amber with paua, that Ian remembered his friend’s gift.

“It was a bit of a ‘eureka’ moment” explains Ian Douglas.

“We want to show our versatility and creativity with this exhibition; that we’re more than diamond jewellers.”

Bill Day – founder of company Seaworks and one of New Zealand’s most successful businessmen – comments seeing the jewellery reborn in such an innovative way is fabulous.

“The amber is significantly ‘Mother Russia.’ I’ve salvaged dozens of boats over the years, but the Lermontov was technically the hardest and deepest dive. It took considerable fortitude to do it, so to see this work so many years later brings back memories.”

The works will be displayed banquet-style on original, restored plates salvaged from the Mikhail Lermontov and exhibited on the Hotel’s billiards tables.

The pieces are predominantly pendants, with some brooches and one stylised framed picture.

Lermontov: Lost and Found will run for one week.


For further information contact: Penny Hartill, Hartill Communications Ltd, 09 445 7525, 021 721 424,

Editor’s Notes:
Bill Day is not your ordinary businessman. Managing Director of his own maritime service business, he was named Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year in 2000 and has gone on to judge not only the domestic competition but also the global one. His company, the highly successful Seaworks, lays fibre optic cables, runs underwater robots and salvages sunken vessels. His work has included managing marine movies for US film director Steven Spielberg and dealings with the oil industry in the Middle East.

In his mid fifties, Bill Day has already lived at least five careers, any one of which would satisfy a less energetic, less capable man. He has no less than 14 professional qualifications including Master of Business, Bachelor of Law and Bachelor of Arts Degrees.

Never one to sit still, he has climbed Mt Cook, flies his own helicopter, acts as a consultant for fledgling businesses, and is on the boards of the Island Bay Marine Education Centre as well as Land Search and Rescue.

Ian Douglas, designer and co-founder of The Village Goldsmith, has spent his life appreciating, designing and building beautiful pieces of jewellery. Ian has the innate ability to analyse a client’s desires and create for them designs which both fulfil and enhance their dream jewellery. He has built up an enviable reputation in New Zealand for unique jewellery. Ian’s goal in the jewellery industry has always been to be the best. This is evidenced by being named the Apprentice of the Year early in his career. More recently he was recognised in his nomination for the Ernst and Young Entrepreneur of the Year.
His business practice has always been to be open, honest and he values his reputation within the industry. He has built up a standing in the New Zealand community as a stalwart supporter of charities and the arts.

Ian and his team at The Village Goldsmith and Inspired Jewellery have won many awards.. They are winners of the National Jewellery Design Awards 2009 and 2010, GIA’s George A Schuetz Design Competition in 2010 and 2011, with the creative team also placing third in the 2011 awards. They were awarded a Bronze Pin in the 2011 Best Awards from the Design Institute of New Zealand, and are finalists in 2012. One of Ian’s designs was a a finalist in the Asian 2012 IU Inaugural Design Awards for coloured gem jewellery. Another of his designs made the finals of the JAA design Awards in Australia in 2012.

Ian is married to Christine Douglas and they have 3 sons.