Holly Dyment is the first to admit that the graphic illustrations adorning her rings, earrings and stick pins are anything but mainstream. “There’s nothing too pretty in my work,” says the Toronto-based artist. Dyment’s eponymous jewellery line, launched in 2013, has become a cult favourite for eccentric-accessory enthusiasts, including Rihanna and Kelly Osbourne. She cites the macabre, mysticism and Hinduism as key influences. “I’ve got a thing about eyes and lips,” she says, when asked to explain the Dalíesque body parts or the whimsical fly ring in her newest collection.
When you look at her work, you suspect there’s some dark narrative behind the designs that hint at jilted love, but Dyment insists that’s not the case. “I’m fascinated by the death stuff,” she explains, adding that she has a healthy obsession with sentimental Victorian jewellery. “I read a lot of Poe and Brontë; I kind of like that depressing English sentiment.”
In contrast to all the darkness permeating her work, there’s a playful quality to her illustrations (which are carved into 18-karat gold before being set in enamel). For example, she used memento-mori artwork as the focal point for a collection of seven rings, each decorated with gemstones that match the day of the week and corresponding planet. The process—the same technique used by Fabergé—is done in Jaipur, India, where the craft has been perfected over the centuries. Dyment describes the place as a “feast for the senses,” adding that it inspires her to bring the imaginary to life in her designs.
It’s a pop-art approach that she suggests has a groovy ’60s vibe. It’s also the perfect counterbalance to the morbid mood that only exists on the surface. “There’s fun in there too,” she says with a chuckle.