Amanda May first started making jewellery when she was about 6 years old. Along with her parents and three sisters, she made jewellery to sell at the Flea Market (now known as the Early Bird Market) to supplement the family income. The four girls would sit at their stall, threading up, beading, make sizing adjustments for their customers and keeping up with whatever jewellery trends were happening at the time..love beads, wire jewellery, feather earrings and stamped leather cuffs all had their time in the limelight..
Amanda has been the only one of her sisters to return to jewellery after those formative beginnings, but not before a few creative diversions along the way..
After finishing up her 4 year diploma in Interior Design at Carrington Polytech Design School, (now Unitec), Amanda was an architectural draftsperson for a couple of years before moving to Brighton in the UK where she worked as an Interior Designer with a firm specialising in hospitality fit-outs, designing bars and cafes around Europe. Returning to New Zealand some years later she continued with Interior Design for a firm specialising in healthcare and hotel interiors until 1999, when she decided the time had come for something new.
Signing up for the Winemaking Course at the Tairāwhiti Polytech, Amanda found herself back in her hometown. In close succession came not just a family and a new home, but a lavender farm!
In seeking to find an outlet for all the lavender she suddenly had on her hands, Amanda took another new turn, taking over the gift store on Gladstone Road called Bex, and it was this which saw her return to making jewellery.
The label Bird of Prey was born to showcase Amanda’s creative endeavours, including her bold and gutsy jewellery collections. But while Bird of Prey is these days solely focused on jewellery, the vibe has remained the same, speaking to the values of freedom, strength and courage.
After three months of gathering inspiration and motivation in Europe in 2019, Bird of Prey Jewellery has gone online. Whilst one might describe Bird of Prey jewellery as quirky and different to the mass-produced stuff, it’s ‘not so crazy that you can’t wear it’.
Most recently Amanda has moved her jewellery-making out of the house and into a custom-built studio in her garden. The Bird of Prey Studio is where all the dreaming and making happens, and the beauty of having it at home is that she can keep her prices reasonable and the hours can flex to suit customers’ needs and local markets as they arise. Amanda is also always happy to carry out jewellery repairs, so if your favourite piece is languishing in some forgotten treasure box somewhere, take it along to the Bird of Prey Studio for Amanda to bring it back to life!
The Bird of Prey Studio is open on Friday afternoons, or by appointment.
Or you can find Bird of Prey online anytime at www.birdofprey.co.nz / @birdofpreyjewellery on Instagram / www.facebook.com/BirdofPreyJewellery
Story & Photograph by Sarah Cleave