Emma Addams, Melbourne-based designer and founder of cult brand Heart of Bone, makes jewellery for those who like their accessories on the dark side.
Melbourne brand Heart of Bone makes jewellery for those who like their accessories on the dark side.
Founded by designer Emma Addams in 2013, Heart of Bone jewellery has a rock'n'roll core. Inspired by all things gothic, the unisex jewellery is designed using hand carved wax, and is handmade in studio by Addams and her brother Lenny.
The brand's collection of skull rings, earrings, chunky bracelets and necklaces pay tribute to rock legends and music, so it's hardly surprising then that the pieces are worn by rock and pop royalty like Billie Eilish, as well as fashion royalty like Karl Lagerfeld and Rick Owens.
But, sustainability is also important to the designer and to the brand. Vintage, repurposed and up-cycled items are very much a part of Addams’ aesthetic. The designer was a furniture restorer before she got into fashion, and she helped build her studio and workshop by hand with salvaged and repurposed items.
She’s also a passionate collector of vintage fashion and design. Last year the designer launched a collection of rosary necklaces made from her own personal repurposed collection of beads, as well as hand studded and embroidered jackets.
Addams also ensures that the brand's locally-based metal suppliers adhere to strict ethical and sustainability benchmarks and are certified by the Responsible Jewellery Council (RJC). These business partners use best practices that align with the 17 United Nations Sustainable Development Goals.
A collaboration last year with iconic Melbourne vegan eatery, Smith and Daughters, resulted in a vegan inspired collection. Recently the designer also launched a collaboration with Aussie rock legends, AC/DC for a special limited edition jewellery collection.
We chat with the Queen of badass bling about her inspiration and the birth of Heart of Bone.
First off, how did the Heart of Bone brand come into being?
It started kind of by accident back in 2013. I’d just had my daughter Azzedine and I kind of experienced a major creative surge. I think she was about 5 months old when I started thinking about creating some kind a brand based around the things I couldn’t really find.
My researching and drawing led me to decide the brand was a homewares brand. I’d envisioned a kind of gothic, punk take on antique French porcelain or ‘bone china’— that’s where the name Heart of Bone originally came from.
I started at first by carving in jeweller’s wax to experiment with ideas for cutlery and small objects but ended up making rings instead. One thing led to another and before I knew it I’d registered the trademark, started an Instagram and Heart of Bone was born. I feel like it’s been there the whole time. It’s been a completely natural and incredibly fulfilling creative journey so far.
Your pieces have been spotted on some of the biggest names in the music and fashion industry. What have been some of the most memorable and defining moments for Heart of Bone?
We’ve really enjoyed working with Billie Eilish. She started wearing our jewellery when she was about 15 and 'Ocean Eyes' had just come out. My brother Lenny loved the song and played it to me when she first began talking to us and working together. We both had this overwhelming sense that she was otherworldly and although we had no idea just how massive she would become, we liked everything about her back then and we’ve been working ever since.
You have a very strong presence on social media. Has that helped shape the brand’s success?
It’s funny because I don’t really feel like we do! I run the Instagram myself and to be honest, I’m not that great at it. It’s pretty random how I do it. I don’t want to sound like a total wanker but I have to ‘feel’ a moment, an image, or a mood to post about it, so sometimes I’m not active on it at all.
I stopped all the notifications on my phone when my son was born, 14 years ago. I look at it when I have time and I do the social media thing in spurts with a blast of creativity and excitement, when I’m feeling really into it and creating content. I think it’s healthy for me as a creative to do the social media stuff at my own speed.
I’m told that I don’t engage enough or very consistently in regards to our social media but I can’t physically do more and I can’t imagine anyone else taking it on either. Instagram itself is a full time job to be honest. Our social media content is authentic and very much in the moment and I hope that’s what people feel when they stumble upon the brand
How has the brand developed?
Our business has grown so quickly it’s been really challenging to do everything the way I used to do it. Covid really threw retail and everything that goes along with it into virtual chaos, so my attention has sharply shifted lately to the forward planning, systems integrations and overall management of the business in these unpredictable and mad times.
We’ve had massive growing pains. The growth period we started experiencing 2 years ago hit us hard and we weren’t prepared. So, I’ve been on catch up mode all through Covid trying to put all the pieces together that form the complete brand story for the next chapter.
You’ve worked on several collaborations in the past. There was a jewellery collection with Australian couture designer Toni Maticevski; sustainable fashion designer Kit Willow; vegan eatery Smith + Daughters; and a collection of crystal rings with your friend, Rick Owens muse and designer Tyrone Dylan. And, you've just launched a special collection with Aussie rock legends, AC/DC. Do you have any other exciting collaborations lined up?
We’ve got various collaborations and projects going on and that also helps to shape the brands identity through social media across the different collaborative partners we are working with and their own platforms also. I’ve always maintained that Heart of Bone is a brand for everybody so I try not to get stuck in a single direction. It doesn’t really fit into any specific box I think. I like that about the brand; it’s like one big group of global misfits. It feels authentic still because it is.