1 October, 2019 In conversation with designer and sculptor Holly Ryan Australian jewellery designer and sculptor, Holly Ryan, founded her eponymous label in 2010, with a focus on creating timeless heirlooms consciously crafted from sustainable materials. We sit down with the multi-talented designer to discuss everything from her design process to responsible production.

 mode sportif holly ryan jewellery designer

DSO: You explore both traditional and modern techniques when it comes to jewellery crafting – is there a technique that you prefer to use or tend to use more? Or do you let the designs dictate which craftsmanship techniques will be used in its creation?
I always have a very organic approach to jewellery making in that I often pick up my tools or wax and create without a specific design in mind. This means working with the materials I have on hand to create pieces, rather than purchasing new materials to fit in with a rigid sketch I have drawn or idea I have imagined. I use a range of techniques because it keeps things interesting.


DSO: The concept of the “closed loop lifecycle” for your jewellery is amazing – we definitely need more brands hopping on board initiatives like this. Can you tell us a bit about how pre-loved pieces can be repurposed and given a new life?
HR: I always design with timelessness in mind, as I hope for consumers to hold onto their pieces forever and pass them down as heirlooms. First and foremost, we offer repairs or replating and redesigning services, to ensure the lifespan of your jewellery. However, if for some reason your jewellery (purchased directly from Holly Ryan or via our stockists) is no longer serving you, then you may return it to us for a store credit. The credit value system is based on the condition of your jewellery and its metal and stone content/weight.


DSO: Responsible production is at the heart of your designs. Can you tell us a bit about where your head is at when you approach a new collection? Does the design process begin with the material or something else?
HR: My design process is incredibly personal. My work is conceptually driven, based on my state of mind and the things, places or people who have been inspiring me at the time. It could be a book that I’ve read or a conversation I have had; or it could be a building I’ve visited that will spur me into researching the author or philosophy; architect or artist.


DSO: How do you find your practices as both an artist and a jewellery designer enhance each other? Are there similarities in the design process of sculpting and creating jewellery?
HR: I love the way that the two intersect. I create my original jewellery designs within the same studio as I create my sculptures, so I often jump from one workbench to the other, in response to sudden inspiration. Using the lost-wax casting technique in jewellery making is similar to sculpting in terms of carving material to create a shape by use of reduction methods. I am removing material to expose a design, rather than building a shape by adding material on. I have a few lines within my jewellery range now, which are directly inspired by my sculptures.


DSO: We love how you have managed to merge art and jewellery – particularly in the Picasso range. Which artists are you especially inspired by?
HR: Well I love all Pablo Picasso’s work, but the ‘Picasso’ range was specifically inspired by his series of hand painted ceramic plaques, which he worked on over a few decades, from 1950-1980. Other artists I greatly admire are Jean Arp, Barbara Hepworth, Constantin Brancusi, Alexander Calder, Henry Moore, Henri Matisse and Joan Miro.


DSO: Are there any other sources of inspiration, beyond artists, that are visible in your designs?
HR: Nature, always nature. All of the metals I use are recycled metals and all of the stones I use are sourced as ethically as possible, either through local Australian suppliers or via my Fairtrade partners in India. All of these are materials that come from the earth and never lose their value. I find inspiration in the materials themselves such as the pearls, opals and sapphires – which all remind me of the ocean.


DSO: Can you tell us a little bit about the hand craftsmanship process? Do you have a favourite part of the jewellery making process?
HR: I particularly love to hand-carve wax designs and my favourite pieces to make are the Wabi Sabi rings or Hidden Treasure necklaces.


DSO: How would you describe the aesthetic of Holly Ryan jewellery in 3 words?
HR: Sculptural, organic-minimalism.


DSO: Do you have a particular piece (either sculptural or jewellery) that you are most proud of?
HR: A sandstone sculpture and wooden sculpture that I created for my solo shows at Jerico Contemporary. 


DSO: Which is the one piece of jewellery you could not live without?
HR: My Wabi Sabi ring. All of the pieces I personally wear are the originals. They are very sentimental to me, just as jewellery should be.

 holly ryan jewellery designer

australian jewellery designer holly ryan

holly ryan sculpture

sculpture by artist and designer holly ryan