The Iconic Edition
News
|12 Mar|6 mins

Why the A-list Loves Heart of Bone

What do Marc Jacobs, Katy Perry and Slash have in common?
Kate Tregoning
12 Mar
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Filling every precious minute of her six hours in Heart of Bone’s Melbourne studio – bookended by school runs for her 12 year old son and five year old daughter – Emma Abrahams downs tools to tell us about the work that goes into her jewellery and the knife-edge balance of motherhood and creativity.

“I pick up my kids from school every day, I don’t have a nanny, I travel often. Juggling that is the most complicated thing – being a mother in business. I wear a lot of different hats but children always come first.”

Abrahams, who works alongside brother, Lenny, admits, “It’s incredibly challenging as an artist of child-bearing age to be female because you’re very much needed in that mother role and splitting your time between trying to grow your small business into a global company – which we are in the process of doing, given the demand for our product – it’s incredibly conflicting to be good at both of those things. I’ve trained myself to be creative on call and it’s taken years. Because I have children, I have to squeeze my creativity into a timeframe. It’s the working mum dilemma. So, as you start carving or touching wax it becomes second nature. If I ever do have a creative block I jump in the workshop and start polishing, there’s always something to do.”

News
|12 Mar|6 mins

Why the A-list Loves Heart of Bone

What do Marc Jacobs, Katy Perry and Slash have in common?
Kate Tregoning
12 Mar
Share:

Filling every precious minute of her six hours in Heart of Bone’s Melbourne studio – bookended by school runs for her 12 year old son and five year old daughter – Emma Abrahams downs tools to tell us about the work that goes into her jewellery and the knife-edge balance of motherhood and creativity.

“I pick up my kids from school every day, I don’t have a nanny, I travel often. Juggling that is the most complicated thing – being a mother in business. I wear a lot of different hats but children always come first.”

Abrahams, who works alongside brother, Lenny, admits, “It’s incredibly challenging as an artist of child-bearing age to be female because you’re very much needed in that mother role and splitting your time between trying to grow your small business into a global company – which we are in the process of doing, given the demand for our product – it’s incredibly conflicting to be good at both of those things. I’ve trained myself to be creative on call and it’s taken years. Because I have children, I have to squeeze my creativity into a timeframe. It’s the working mum dilemma. So, as you start carving or touching wax it becomes second nature. If I ever do have a creative block I jump in the workshop and start polishing, there’s always something to do.”

From a single workshop in Melbourne, big things have grown, with the brand counting Jean Paul Gaultier, Slash of Guns ‘n’ Roses, Marc Jacobs, Miley Cyrus and Katy Perry as fans. “Karl Lagerfeld wearing my ring was an amazing moment for me. On my list of people I admire, he was probably top of my list, so seeing him wear his portrait ring was game-changing – one of those moments where you just have to stop and breathe.” An impressive feat in just five years.

“It’s changed a lot in those years. When I started Heart of Bone I just began by making things that I wanted to wear – rings of pop icons that inspired me like Bowie and Prince, Lemmy from Motorhead, Axl Rose, everything down to The Little Mermaid, so it was more about pop culture than anything else. It’s come out of my rebellious creative spirit. It does have a gothic aesthetic but I think it’s got more of a humorous edge. You can never have enough skull rings. ”

To get into the mindset of designing for men, the siblings work together. “My brother and I sit down and think about what he’d like to wear. Our client base is pretty much half and half men and women. We get a lot of feedback on what men want to wear, especially with the signet ring – a lot of guys want a certain size or a certain weight. I used to be a men’s buyer so I’m quite in touch with what men want in terms of what men want in terms of jewellery, but working so closely with my brother has allowed me to see things from a different angle.”

via Instagram @thetalesofman

The duo painstakingly creates each design by hand and crafting a single piece of jewellery is a labour-intensive process that can take up to a month to complete. “I have a vision of something I want to create and I start carving it out of wax. That process can take anything from a day to a week. Then we put that model into a lost-wax casting, which is done locally in Melbourne, and the wax model becomes a sterling silver master which we polish and finesse until it’s perfect. The master goes back into a moulding process and then you pump out another wax, make sure that’s perfect and then you’ve got a product you can make multiples of. So every time we do a new order it has to go wax, silver, polishing and then we finish everything by hand in the workshop – oxidising, soldering and everything is done here.” Between their workshop and a collection of local artisans, each piece is finished locally in Melbourne. “For creatives, Melbourne is an incredible city. We’ve got quite a broad creative community that actually collaborate and work quite well together. It’s really quite fantastic.”

Freedom to be creative is something the pair treasures. “Having a jewellery brand, we create as we go rather than respond to trends season after season – that leads to creative burnout and I really want to avoid that as an artist, having to be beholden to seasons and trends. I’m inspired by other artists, everything from antique furniture to the fetish scene, people on the street. We create new pieces all the time but it’s not necessarily set in stone that there’s a new collection every six months – that would really restrict my creativity.”

Working with family comes naturally to Emma – she was Creative Director of Husk alongside her now husband, before partnering with her brother for her foray into jewellery. “It's funny because Lenny and I have always worked together – I used to be an antique restorer when I was in my twenties and he was working part time for me while he was at uni. We’ve got this kind of surgeon-nurse relationship where he can read my mind. I can be carving and he will be passing me exactly the tool I need at the time. We’re very much in tune with each other, but we’ve got quite defined roles – I do the creative and he does the business management and also the finishing of the product so I know that there’s quality control because I trust him completely. There’s a lot of respect there – Lenny’s very talented with his hands and also great strategically so we complement each other and rarely have a disagreement business-wise on what direction we’re going in.”

The family-first ethos runs through many of her designs too. “I think it’s really lovely to weave a new story into family heirlooms as much as we can, so we often talk to clients about using their stones to create new pieces. If someone comes to me and says they want diamonds, I always ask ‘have you got anything lying around – anything – ones your grandma might have left you that you don’t wear, something your mum’s got in her cupboard, or maybe go and ask some other family members whether they’ve got something special in a box. Maybe it’s time to go and take those out and create something new for you.’ Nine times out of ten people have some little stones floating around and they get inspired to put them in the eyes of something and we can create a new piece for them that really does tell a special story. I really enjoy people talking to their family about that and then creating something from something old. It feels really special.” Repurposing pieces of the past ensures the brand has a lower impact, too. “Sourcing new diamonds is fine but I really tend to buy antique or vintage diamonds because they tell more of a story and it’s better for the environment. If we pay more attention to using what we’ve got and not creating more, more, more, more, more all the time – it’s really important that people have an awareness around that.”

via Instagram @flamesasuke

Future-proofing can only help the growth of the brand, whose success shows no signs of slowing. “We’re so busy at the moment and because we make everything here in-house we’re in that space at the moment where we’re having a few growing pains. We’ve got to take on some more staff at this point.”

Her advice for women wanting to start a business? “I think you’ve got to have a clear understanding of how long it takes. I was a little bit deluded when I started Heart of Bone, that it would be something I could build more quickly. It’s taken me longer to get to the place that we are and I think having realistic expectations, knowing your market place and a clear direction of what you’re capable in a timeframe is really important. I’ve really tried to balance things so that nothing suffers – the business or the kids – and it has taken me longer to get to where we are because of that.”

“In the future I’d like to see Heart of Bone with multiple categories, but I’m also not in a rush and I think over time we’ll inject some more products into the range. Because we’re making everything in house and we want to keep the integrity of the brand in Melbourne, local casting, local finishing, it’s got to be step by step and has to feel right timing-wise. We’re a bit overloaded with how much the business has grown in the last couple of years, so one step at a time. I’d love to see our categories grow and introduce new things. Hopefully one day.”

Eat your heart out...

via Instagram @ jheuston

Eat your heart out...

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Kate Tregoning
Lifestyle Editor
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