When did you start Heart of Bone?
Heart of Bone started by accident. I began making the rings in November 2013, however I launched the website August 2014.
During 2012 I was painting a series of skull portraits in the studio and playing with the idea of turning some of the imagery I was working with into a range of fine bone china dinnerware. I know, it sounds rather strange but I love to cook and entertain and I’m forever looking for cool plates. I was researching manufacturers and working on ideas for cutlery too with skulls and snakes etc and I saw that the famed jeweller William Griffiths from Metal Couture was conducting a wax casting in jewellery making and I went along to learn a thing or too, to begin making the cutlery I had imagined. I made a ring in the first class and then another during the course and I became enthralled by the whole process. I will one day get back to the tableware I hope.
As I was working on my second portrait ring, which was Carmen (Miranda), a guy in the studio wandered in unannounced and asked how much it was. He ordered one for his wife on the spot. Now this couple have become good friends of mine and the business was born.
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What were you doing before you launched?
During my 20’s, after working for a few years for an esteemed and infamous Melbourne antique dealer in an absolute baptism-by-fire of an apprenticeship, I opened my own restoration studio and worked on many incredible private homes, collections and whimsical pieces. The studio specialised in painted and gilded furniture with a focus on 18-19th century Italian and English pieces. We worked with many different decorators, architects, collectors and retailers. Lot’s of carving and fine work involved. It was here I met my husband who was in fashion retail with the Husk stores. Not long after we married I began to work with him as we grew the business which we sold in 2008. I have continued working as a fashion consultant since then. I have worked with many big and small brands on creative strategy. I’ve also got two young kids at home so it’s all rather a juggle.
What is your background in reference to making jewellery? Is this your first foray into doing your own jewellery label?
Heart of Bone is my first foray into jewellery but I don’t see it as a jewellery label. I think because I’m a painter and have been since I can remember, I see the collection as an extension of – and in many ways a more digestible (and dare I say commercial) forum to express my creativity and play with ideas and observations on pop culture. I love when people get the hidden subtlety and dialogue in the range but I am equally as thrilled if customers just love them because they are pleasing to the eye. I see Heart of Bone as a brand. Right now it’s focus is statement jewellery.
What are the core materials used in Heart of Bone pieces?
So far I’ve worked mainly in sterling silver and gold with semi precious and precious stones but I’m experimenting with different materials currently. A lot of my pieces are custom designs which means the client wants a unique piece that is made exclusively for them. No moulds are made of these commissions. I love making them all and wrapping them with bows and sending them off into the world to have their adventures. Then onto the next exciting project.
How do you describe Heart of Bone to someone who hasn’t seen it?
Pop culture inspired skull icon rings. Rock and roll with a quirky sense of humor.
Can you describe the process of how you create a new design and turn it into a finished piece?
All my designs are carved and sculptured in wax. If it’s a custom job it’s cast into the desired metal, tidied up and set with stones if that’s required (I work with a very talented master gem setter) then each peice is oxidised (if required) and hand polished by me in the studio.
If the ring is part of my Heart of Bone collection then a mould is made from this master casting once it’s perfected and then multiple wax’s can be made from the mould and cast again into metal. It’s a very time consuming process.
Emma in the workshop working on a wax mould
A Heart of Bone design was recently worn by Jean Paul Gaultier while he was in Melbourne… How did this come to be?!
Yes, he has a magnificent Heart of Bone ring. It’s solid sterling silver with 65 brilliant diamonds and rows of Australian sapphires in his signature Breton stripes. It was a painstaking process and very hard to part with.
One day I was in the studio when a friend called and told me that he been invited to a private showing of the Jean Paul Gaultier show which was on at the NGV and it was likely Gaultier himself would be attending. My friend, knowing what a huge fan of him I am and what an influence his work has had on mine, offered me his tickets because he couldn’t attend. I decided on the spot to make JPG a ring and I spent 2 solid weeks leading up to the show making this mad piece that just got more and more crazy and then my -incredible stone setter Michael Laderman worked on it for days too setting all the stones.We got it done just in time. In fact I was polishing it that afternoon of the opening!
On the night it was a very intimate gathering indeed. Maybe 30 people. It’s pretty funny really because the gallery was expecting my friend and his wife who couldn’t make it and they were all a bit confused to see us all dressed up with the names tags on of our friends… It was a serious cringe moment, but funny too. Anyway, JPG himself did arrive after our tour and I wandered over and talked with him and told him how inspirational his creations had been in my life and how they had given me a great love of dressing up and a love for fashion. He was quite moved and loved the ring which thank god fitted well. He said ‘Emma, I will never take this off!’ It was an amazing moment.
The ring Emma designed for Jean Paul Gaultier with Emma Abrahams at the NGV (R) ; the ring she created for him (L)
Have any other well known folks out there rocked a Heart of Bone piece?
I’m actually making a commission this week for porn industry princess Jenna Jameson!
I’ve made rings for Joel Madden, Skrillex, Katy Perry, Miley Cyrus, a few models and some stylists too.
I’m currently painting again for a solo show this time next year. So between Heart of Bone and my oils that will keep me busy enough for now!
Heart of Bone
By Matt Hurst