Aptly named after the Greek word for beautiful: calla, the trumpet-shaped calla lily is a flower that is brimming with symbolism. While it is the official bloom to represent a sixth wedding anniversary this unique flower can be found marking many of life’s rites of passage.
A white calla lily, the most common and traditional, has long been associated with innocence and purity.
It can be found decorating 17th century paintings depicting the Virgin Mary and is one of the most popular blooms to be used during Easter services to represent rebirth.
This is also why the white calla lily is a traditional choice for funeral arrangements and expressions of sympathy.
Pink calla lilies are most often associated with appreciation and romance and are usually gifted in the first flush of a new relationship. Send shades of yellow calla lilies to show gratitude or as a token of your esteem.
Dramatic deep purple calla lilies hint at mystery and intrigue while being uniquely elegant in their own right.
References to this sensual bloom can be found all the way back to Greek and Roman mythology.
Originating in South Africa, it is not known when the calla lily travelled to Europe but depictions of it can be found in paintings dating from the 16th century.
However, the flower only started to appear in popular culture in the Americas at the turn of the century.
Art and the calla lily
The French artist Henri Matisse was at the vanguard of the Modernist art movement that developed in the beginning of the 19th century.
It was a time when art and ideas began to evolve away from just representing what the eyes could see and to a more emotive expression of art.
This sensual, sculptural flower lends itself naturally to the arts and has captivated artists for centuries.
In Calla Lilies, Irises and Mimosas (1913) Henri Matisse singularly elevated the bold colours and simple lines of the flowers to the centre of the painting.
Another artist who was also influenced by the sensual sculptured curves of the calla lily was the American modernist painter Georgia O’Keeffe who was also a part of the modern advance in art.
In her large over-sized paintings she simplified shape and form to its essence. This is no more evident than in her sensual painting Two Callla Lily on Pink (1928).
However, perhaps the most famous of the painters to fall under the influence of the intoxicating calla lily was the Mexican artist Diego Rivera.
Though not native to Mexico, the calla lily has long been grown in the mountains above Mexico City to be sold in the flower markets of the city.
Diego Rivera took inspiration from these scenes to elevate the indigenous flower sellers in the mercados to the prime subjects of a series of painting celebrating this sculptural flower.
In Vendedora de Alcatraces (1938) the flower seller is dwarfed by the almost overbearing majesty of the calla lily stems they sell.
With his reverence for the native Mexican communities Diego Rivera inspired the association of the calla lily with not only rebirth and growth but also revolution.
It is no coincidence that his flower series dated from the early 1920 to the 1940s and spanned the period of the Mexican revolution.
Calla lily jewellery
Through its many incarnations the one single element that endures about the calla lily is the sensual almost organic line of the leaf and the drama of the spathe rising from the centre.
These features lend themselves naturally to the curving and spiraling shapes of jewellery design.
Whether you believe this magnificent flower represents love, devotion, smypathy or any of the other myriad of associations connected to it, the calla lily is effortlessly elegant as wedding jewellery, a gift for a loved one or just a call to celebrate spring and rebirth.
We feature a whole range of calla lily inspired flower pieces in our store.
Choose from the glorious mixed metal designs of Guillermo Arregui whose calla lily flowers are rendered in 925 silver with warm cooper accents. Or go for the elegant grace of a simple pendant handmade from solid sterling silver.
Whichever incarnation of the calla lily you prefer, it remains a beautiful and elegant flower that is sure to remain an inspiration for many years to come.