By Melanie Cummings
Oakville jewelry designer Heather Hogarth has had a lifelong obsession with colour, she freely admits.
The seven-year-old who turned red, yellow and blue phone cable wires into rings for her Barbie dolls, and fashioned earrings for said playthings from chandelier pieces, is still pushing the limits of her imagination today with her company HH Fine Jewellery.
While colour dominates her artistry, so too does symmetry, balance and versatility. The need for harmony in her designs is likely a subliminal nod to her monogram, HH. Is it any wonder that this evenly shaped eighth letter of the alphabet is also numerically equipoised? Like the number, the letter remains the same whether turned upside-down, flipped or reversed. A browse through Hogarth’s Look Book at hhfinejewellery.com reveals further evidence of her penchant for proportion. The hexagon shape features prominently in her ring, bracelet and necklace creations, and diamond and triangle patterns dominate the shapes of her earrings and what she calls ‘backdrops’.
“I set a challenge for myself when I started making jewelry to create pieces that were transitional, personalized and meaningful for my clients,” said Hogarth.
There’s also a practical side to her glamour. “I like the challenge of making jewelry more wearable.”
For example, her ‘backdrops’ attach to the stems of a stud earring turning them into dangling delights. They allow wearers to change their look from casual to elegant easily by slipping on a backdrop.
Hogarth’s ingenuity is also seen in her best-selling hinged double rings. Flip one of the rings and the top layer of stones turns over to reveal another design layer. From black diamonds to a shimmering set they evoke both a muted or spectacular style for whatever the occasion dictates. The same goes with decorative magnetic enhancers that jazz up a pearl necklace or bracelet.
She also ingeniously has found a way to transform inherited pieces from age-old jewelry boxes into personalized tributes to the past with her Circle of Life creations. Using the family tree motif, she sporadically places gem stones from a loved ones’ collection into a circular frame filled with an array of gold branches that stretch from edge to edge.
“It’s a way to keep histories alive by repurposing pieces that may not necessarily be your style,” said Hogarth. She does the same with bracelets and necklaces. “It’s easy to pass down jewelry through the family lineage because they are small and portable.”
The creative process comes naturally to Heather because she has spent her whole working life in the design world. She’s been a model, make-up artist, colour consultant, stylist, and interior designer. And somehow this constant learner managed to get her Masters in psychology while her three children were growing up.
Hogarth’s bright ideas are brought to life by internationally lauded, award-winning jewelry designer Myles Mindham. They are sold at his Toronto boutique in the exclusive Yorkville area, and privately, at trunk and pop-up shops in Muskoka, Florida and throughout Toronto.
Hogarth has also done her homework in the field, earning accreditation from diamond-grading institute, the Gemological Institute of America and training in California and London, England.
Among her sources of inspiration is a costume jewelry drawer in her home that holds pieces she has picked up at estate sales, antique shops and auctions. Hogarth uses them to “test-drive” pieces before committing her ideas to paper.
Hogarth also draws plenty of insight from her travel life. While she soaks in a destination’s landmarks and natural beauty, she also keenly observes the local food, hotel and fashion scenes. That’s not to say she doesn’t dictate some of her influence on the places she visits. Her husband, Greg, and now three grown children know that before they head into a hotel room or sit down at a restaurant that she will likely rearrange the furniture first. The film buff also has a habit of looking beyond the storyline and honing in on the décor, makeup and costume design on the big screen.
Her online Look Book tells part of these tales but she reminds visitors to the site that they are simply a jumping off point. Collaboration is key with her clients, to make pieces that are intimately meaningful to them.
“Jewelry accessorizes you but fine jewelry defines you,” said Hogarth.