Katariina Guthwert's Medals of General Valour

Finnish jewellery designer, Katariina Guthwert has established a well-heeled stable of icons and idols in her series: Medals of General Valour. The brooch Medals are a colourful collection of high esteem worn from the streets of Helsinki to events with the Swedish Royal Family. Wolf has been a keen fan ever since stumbling upon Katariina's work in the Helsinki Design District. 

I became a jewellery designer by accident when my mother-in-law introduced me to that field. I'm actually an art and french teacher, but nowadays I do mainly jewellery.

Since 2005 I've made many hundreds of Medals of General Valour with different pictures. Writers, artists, musicians and actors have been
popular. I try to choose icons that I appreciate and adore. People order
customized medals from me with pictures of their own idols and family
members, for example. I take copyrights in consideration and therefore I don't make medals with pictures that have been published after 1966. But customers can order medals with any picture if it's for their own use.

I find the medals beautiful and l thought they would maybe be worn as
jewellery. I also love colourful ribbons as a material. My first medals
didn't have pictures of people but they had a lot of "golden" trinkets and
diamonds. My favourite medal right now is a black, yellow and white medal
with a picture of really young Yoko Ono.

Some of the figures are Finnish. Finnish architect Alvar Aalto, poet L. Onerva and writer Minna Canth are quite popular figures among customers.


Quite often I don't wear jewellery at all. But I think my medals are bold and they can show attitude. So that's a good
excuse to be a bit decorated, even though you normally go for the
Nordic minimalistic style.

The current president of Finland's wife Jenni Haukio wore one of my medals
for the christening of Swedish Princess Estelle. It had a picture of a Finnish
artist Helene Schjerfbeck, whose anniversary was celebrated this year in
Finland. I didn't know that she had a medal, and I was quite surprised of
her boldness of using it in the royal christening. After all, in that
occasion, people had "real" medals. But I guess she embraced her medal as
a piece of jewellery, which it actually is.

The Helsinki Design district is a good thing for young designers. Now I'm moving on
and doing new kind of jewellery out of the same materials, textile. In a
couple of weeks my new collection of soft necklaces, titled She wore a
Neon Ribbon, will be presented in Helsinki Design Forum.

Pictured are the medals of Alno and Alvar Aalto.