Ancient Egypt was Dyne designer Sarah Narici’s jumping-off point for modern takes on symbols and gems that commemorate people, places and life events for the wearer. She has dubbed the collection “LoverGlyphs.” Here, a custom LoverGlyphs ring in 18-karat yellow gold with a variety of colored gemstone accents.
Sarah Narici isn’t quite sure when she began her fine jewelry brand Dyne.
Was its start the thesis collection she produced as a student at Central Saint Martins a decade ago, the theme of which is present in her bespoke line today?
Or, before that, was Dyne’s inception hatched at the moment Narici’s mother unexpectedly advised her to pursue art, rather than a safer profession like law? (Fittingly, Dyne is a tribute to Narici’s mother’s maiden name.)
Earlier still, perhaps the brand was first imagined during a formative childhood moment, when Narici went to Cape Canaveral, Florida, to witness a space shuttle launch into outer space. Narici describes the experience as “a day that changed my life.”
More realistically, and as many creatives can relate, it would have been during the pandemic, when unprecedented confinement and quiet led to opportunity to explore themes and passions that had always fascinated her.
It was that period of isolation’s coinciding personal life shifts—engagement, marriage, and motherhood—and the accompanying lifestyle changes that seemed to signal to Narici that now was the time to pursue her own venture after about a decade of learning and designing under others.
The designer pinpoints these various factors and experiences as Dyne’s organic journey into existence, though last year was the moment Dyne formally became open for business.
“It can seem like it’s coming out of nowhere,” she said of her line, “but these ideas have been percolating for maybe eight to 10 years.”
Narici grew up in Milan, Italy, then Cheshire, United Kingdom, before, “running to London as fast as I could,” she said.
There, she studied at the esteemed Central Saint Martins, which has churned out nearly all of the U.K.’s major fashion designers in recent decades, as well as jewelry designers like Fernando Jorge.
Her education didn’t end with school. She went on to work for Alexander McQueen, designing accessories and experiencing the real-world job demands of a major fashion house.
She honed in on her passion for fine jewelry at Stephen Webster, where she spent more than two years. Study at the Gemological Institute of America and a position at Marina B. led Narici to New York City.
Her final position before venturing out on her own was with Lorraine Schwartz, leaving Narici nothing if not well-rounded in the jewelry universe.
“I think every different experience shaped me in a certain way,” she said.
The Dyne design that has captivated jewelry lovers is the “LoverGlyphs” series, a play on an ancient Egyptian signet ring with many symbols that was used as a seal. Dyne revitalizes the style with symbols and colored gemstones representing one’s personal life journey.
Married to this redux of ancient jewelry styles is an embrace of the future. On the Dyne Instagram and website, one encounters futuristic graphic design that paints the jewels as one part of a larger artistic world.
For Narici, jewelry is the vehicle that transports us to greater themes and concepts, not unlike the way an engagement ring is a symbol of commitment, or a watch a status symbol. Narici simply takes this idea a step further.
I spoke to the designer about her formative design education, the collaborative process of creating a bespoke Dyne jewel with a client, and her embrace of digital art.
This interview has been edited for length and clarity.
Ashley Davis: How did working at a fashion label like Alexander McQueen inform your process as a designer?
Sarah Narici: The biggest takeaway from McQueen was the research, which was very strategic. Obviously, fashion works in seasons and we would start [designing a collection] by just doing research for about a month.
And I remember the quality of research had to be really good, so it couldn’t be superficial, it couldn’t be just going on Pinterest, it was like looking through archives of the Met Museum or finding really niche galleries in Japan. People at the brand really pushed you to be creative.
It was such a good exercise. I really appreciated it afterwards, not at the time.
AD: In close to a decade of working for other brands you have such a vast amount of experience.
SN: They’ve all been starkly different, even my many internship experiences. I kind of covered the entire jewelry culture, from traditional, old-school ways of approaching to jewelry to a crazy fashion house and then some places in between.
“I think I drew about 80 different designs.” – Sarah Narici on creating her engagement ring
AD: Did you know you wanted to specialize in fine jewelry at Central Saint Martins?
SN: The first year at Central Saint Martins is amazing. It’s the foundation year and I think the intent is to filter people through different disciplines and give them as much experience as possible.
Because jewelry was so detailed and so conceptual it lent itself to the way I liked working as a creative. I always did these really small, intricate, super-detailed drawings and little structures so I was already interested in working in that way.
It was weird though [to pursue jewelry design] because prior to college I was always quite academic. My mum was the one who encouraged me to apply to art school because I was honestly thinking I would just be a lawyer. I thought art was a hobby. Very unusually, she encouraged me to apply to Central Saint Martins.
AD: From all of these experiences, what inspired you to create your own brand and take that leap?
SN: At Central Saint Martins, you’re spending so much time trying to cultivate a vision and an area of interest. The last year is really interesting because you’re looking at the world around you and forming a point of view. It’s like a series of questions and you learn to train yourself to ask the same questions and give different responses.
From that point I knew I wanted to have my own brand. I also love learning and jewelry is so specific, I was always just really hungry to see and learn more and understand how things work.
Honestly, I had no idea about what it meant to run a business so that aspect was very intimidating for me. There’s a huge difference than just being a creative, so I wasn’t in a hurry to begin that part but I always knew I would start my own brand, I just didn’t have a timeline.
AD: Why is the timing right now?
SN: During COVID lockdowns I started creating things because we had more time and it coincided with me getting engaged.
I was designing my own ring and it sent me into a frenzy. I think I drew about 80 different designs. I was like, “Wow, just from this ring design, I have a pretty amazing archive of designs now.”
In the past I also designed things all the time without really thinking about them. So I had this big archive of designs and ideas, which I had never explored when I was working for other people. That unconsciously started me onto this journey.
AD: Tell me about LoverGlyphs. This is the first design I saw from you on Instagram.
SN: Dyne is like an expression of everything that I’ve always loved, whether it’s a certain material or a kind of stone or a certain composition, channeled into different designs.
I’ve always been really interested in antiquity, specifically Ancient Egypt and mark-making to record things, almost like encapsulating a memory. My final collection at Central Saint Martins was based on the idea of time capsules, so I was building jewelry for a future society that had left the planet. That was the starting point of my collection.
In some ways what I’m doing now is just an extension of that.
“I’m basically encapsulating their world in gold.” – Sarah Narici
The first pieces I ended up creating were wedding bands for my husband and me. I wanted something really clean and simple that was just very unique to us. We have matching yellow gold bands and I came up with stories and anecdotes that represented aspects of our relationship. I turned them into symbols and had them engraved.
That was the biggest impetus toward the rest of the collection. It’s evolved. I’ve developed about five different shapes of rings people can choose from and I’m going to release some pendants, soon.
The idea is to open up the world of bespoke to different people and create things that are really unique to the person. So, it’s less about me and my vision and the brand and it’s more of a collaboration with the clients because I’m basically encapsulating their world in gold.
AD: I think the reason Dyne really resonates with jewelry lovers is because we’ve never seen personalization like this. It’s always been more specific and limited so I had a narrow view of what personalization could mean. This is such a different approach.
SN: The ring design itself is extremely derivative of the ancient Egyptian rings related to the pharaoh Tutankahmun. The reason I wanted to use that shape is because it’s very clean and unisex.
But the piece is really more about the idea and the process of the wearer thinking about the things that are meaningful to them and that they want to celebrate. It’s a cathartic experience that I can’t quite explain. People are really letting me into their world, sharing intimate details of people they love or experiences they’ve been through and we’re turning them into something. It gets quite emotional.
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AD: I love that you say it’s a process because I can imagine that for people choosing the themes and life events and stories that they want to commemorate or pay tribute to is sort of like taking an inventory of one’s life.
SN: It requires a lot of commitment. It’s not just, “let me invest money into this purchase,” it requires people to step back and be thoughtful. Most of the time I’m really taken aback by the amount of energy that people put into it.
AD: Tell me about your retail plans.
SN: I’ve been reticent to work with retailers because of the classic kind of frameworks and timings and every season needing to change things. I kind of wanted to safeguard what I’m doing.
Now, I’m looking at stores that I can work with in a different way and have a bit more of a creative approach.
I’m not building something for hype. I’m not running with a trend and then looking to get out in five years. This is a bigger conceptual exercise that I want to take very seriously.
AD: Tell me about the videos on your Instagram page and website.
SN: The work I’m doing in the digital art space is connecting and weaving itself more and more into my practice. I’m looking at expanding it this year and I’m very excited about that.
I’ve been asked if it’s just a marketing exercise but it’s absolutely not. It’s really an extension of the creative world that I’m building.
Something that really interests me is thinking about scale. In these custom projects we start with emotions and someone’s world and we’re shrinking everything down and condensing it into this miniature object.
“[Digital art is] an extension of the creative world that I’m building.” — Sarah Narici
In the digital space, it’s a whole different experience, where we can [enlarge the symbols], playing between big and small and recontextualizing and reshaping things.
AD: So much of your brand story seems to combine antiquity with futurism.
SN: In college we were [challenged to create] frameworks to think about our practices. I understood the areas I was really interested in were this nexus between ancient civilizations and things that are hyper futuristic.
I can actually pinpoint one moment that influenced me. My father used to work for NASA. When I was 8 years old, we went to Cape Canaveral to watch a shuttle take off and I feel like that day changed my life. I had this impressionable young mind and I’m watching this shuttle take off and my mind was completely blown. So this idea of, “what’s out there?” and “what’s in the future?” was ingrained in me from a really young age.
Then, growing up in a city and being dragged around to Rome, for example, and seeing every ancient thing, I think [these influences] do come together.
The way I would still approach research today is looking for two different pulls in two different directions and trying to find a tension between them, then bringing them together to incorporate a little bit of both.