The 2021 Runner Up... Also to be released!

Posted by Ryan Purdie on

'The two great unknowns...'

‘Two Worlds’, by Lyell Watson


The decision to also make the runner up available this year stemmed from the blatant fire that was coming at us from the minute the comp launched. 

Not only would the decision of the winning design be so hard to make - but also the legitimate death threats that would come our way if we didn't give the people what they want. You're a damn passionate bunch, I will tell you that much for free and that's why we love you all... 

Now let's get in among the runner up design and breakdown why we felt this piece needed to see the light of day. 

Two really powerful motifs in concept, but also in the aesthetic application when it comes to producing the piece. We have used similar imagery in some custom designs previously and I know how well they work. There is a great deal of fine depth to the specific designs, without sacrificing that bold design element - to put it in a simpler form; you can recognise those two helmets a mile out. 

It's hard when talking through the specifics of a design to reference it being 'less artistically' appealing - as it is in no way a negative. In a way, I love being able to edge these ones through, as it shows that we have not been swooned by the art of a design. This design is the perfect example. It has slightly less refined design imagery, however the components are all there to convey the concept and enough for us to see its true value. 




The piece will be a sculptural design with the design elements on the face, and I think a great feature to this will be the depth behind the helmets - which will allow us to blacken and create that darkness behind the features. This aspect plays into concept of being 'two dark unknowns' that these helmets exist in, as well as just emphasising the design focal point. 



Often shrugged off as insignificant padding - the side detail in this design develops the piece into an entire feature, rather than having a nice central element slapped onto a signet. 



It's always a hard one to pitch, but if you can't see it now, trust us. It's going to be good, really good. 

You'll all see on October 1st, sold for ONE DAY ONLY!


What do you currently do for a living/study?

I am currently the Marketing and Content Coordinator for Jendamark, in South Africa.


Outside of COVID times, what else do you get up to?

I love to keep busy - so working on the farm, surfing, diving, fishing - if it's in the ocean or workshop - either way I’m happy! I started ByWatson during COVID - being freshly retrenched - it gave me the much needed downtime I needed to focus on something I have been passionate about for a long time. I started off by collecting the recycled & used wooden coffee stirrers from our local cafés and using glue and concept to create recycled wooden rings which people loved! This is what drove me to keep designing!

What was your favourite design (aside from your own, obviously) and who did you think would win?

This is a really tough question because - for me, there were SO many incredible designs. Concepts that were just epic! Choosing one - I would have to say that my favourite was “Bite me” by Emma Ramm – freakin’ loved that design. As for the win - I was stuck between Small world and Half-life as both were solid and well-designed concepts!

Let us know another brand that you follow on IG that our followers should check out...

I am obsessed with Juan Luis Zubizarreta’s work @spanishlordoftherings !! Definitely would recommend people give him a follow!


Tell us why you decided to enter the Crooked Howlet Design Competition, and how you found out about it?

A friend of mine introduced me to CHD some time back and I’ve been obsessed with the work ever since. I would get a notification whenever the page would update, so  when the competition came up I decided just to try, not thinking much would come of it - but what a cool platform to design something - especially with no limits. I honestly didn’t even think I would make the Top 50 - let alone become a Runner Up!


Talk to us about your design background, are you self-taught or gone to art school, etc?

I was raised in a family of traditional artists - but I was the only one interested more so in Digital Art & Design. No one taught me how to draw or how to conceptualize art - but I loved it and would often spend hours on Pinterest following pages for inspiration! I  started designing tattoos in high school and would often be asked to draw the competition T-Shirt Designs for local surf comps. I’ve always had a love for design and art and during 2017 - an opportunity came up and I was lucky enough to take up a position as the new Graphic Designer for GSM Trading SA (Billabong / Element / Von Zipper etc). I spent a couple of years there before moving to where I am now and haven’t looked back.

What inspired your design? Talk us through the concept and the process from start to finish.

Being very ocean and sea orientated, I'm often down at the beach doing something - be it surfing / diving - whatever. I even have a bell diver tattoo that I based my design off. I have ALWAYS been drawn to Bell Divers but - in the same breath I've also always had a fascination with the stars! So it was a no-brainer for me to take these two concepts and merge them in a kind of a ‘ying and yang’ sense. They are the two biggest unknowns of our world. Essentially two whole entire worlds of their own. They both hold so much beauty and fear, and I think that's really beautiful.

I started with designing each helmet to see if it would work as initially I wasn’t sure if they would - but they seemed to gel so I then just ran with it. It was such a fluid design process from start to finish, the final design submitted was basically the first version I drew up.


What does it mean to you to be Runner Up in this competition?

It honestly means the world, the amount of support from friends and strangers that showed up for my design shows me that I could be on the right track and that I could do it. A big validation for me.


What is next for you?

I would love to keep designing rings and jewellery and hopefully get enough capital and knowledge to grow my own company – it is a massive dream of mine to make quality jewellery that people love.




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The Pencil Collaboration

Posted by Ryan Purdie on

Welcome again, to the One Day Exclusive. 

Sold for 24 hours only, then never again. 
You'll share these designs with a limited few, from a defined period. 


Unearthing this designer, was an important move for us to shine a light on the subtle and the absurd, prior to the 2021 CHD Design Comp. Years into this jewellery game, we've seen our fair share of wild, intricate and extremely artistic designs. There is a 'snow blindness' that comes with designing on the more 'complex' side of things. 

Sculptural pieces have a massive focal point at CHD, especially with the Jack Ankersen Monthly Exclusives and his last Friday the 13th design. However, this O.D.E is about the appreciation of something stripped back, raw and very 'you'...

As I am sure you've picked up on this by now; we thrive off the exclusivity factor of our designs. From the monthly exclusives, boiled down to this even more intense short window - only one day to get your mitts onto this release. 

The exclusivity of these designs is to build a further intrinsic value into your piece - beyond the surface aesthetic. The idea of your particular ring design being cranked out and sold for years to come, we feel dilutes the significance of that little piece of metal perched on your knuckles. What's the good worth of an heirloom if the company is still selling that design once you hand it on? Or no defined purpose or importance of that period it was sold for?

There's still something to be said about the stories that you build into the ring yourself, however we want this to be shared by the select, dedicated few. We also love the idea of worlds aligning and you bumping into a stray person on a night out that managed to slot into that 24 hour purchase opportunity, somewhere else on the planet and they also share the same heirloom. At least for us, that's something kind of special...



Now, we thought we take some time to go through the specifications of each design.

The Life & Death Of The Already Dead


We've run with a plain band design, so there can be that 'cave man drawings' feel, which slots in perfectly with the stripped back, more basic illustrations.

There is a spectrum of 'life after death' imagery, framed in a barbed wire border. Then centred with the 'Dead Howlet' sketch, which backs Jake's thoughts on Crooked Howet Designs... See here.


The Ouss Ouss

 If you don't know the term 'Ouss Ouss', you've never described a fight to a mate. It's linguistically impossible to describe a stink without the term 'ouss ouss' coming out your gullet.  

The design is of an old school boxer, framed in barbed wire and the traidiotnal signet style banner underneath. One side also sports a pair of vintage mitts.

We've chosen one of the most popular signet shapes from our collection, which is the Square Signet. 


The Worlds First Serpent Cat

It's officially the worlds first. Prove me wrong...

The shape and size is the most notable element to the design. We've opted for a very petite landscape oval. We are often hit with the tentative, 'its just a bit too chunky'. We've heard you and this one is for you.

The design on the face is the four eyed serpent cat, with the shank inscription that denotes the record of 'the worlds first serpent cat'.  





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The Chapter Collection

Posted by Ryan Purdie on


There's now something on your hand that carries slightly more significance than the rest of the CHD collection. The collection were designed with this in mind... We don't feel that it is up to us to pin the badge of "Heirloom" on a piece that is yet be taken through the wringer. We don't create heirlooms, you do, with a lifetime of stories. However, we can give you the blank canvas.

The Chapter Collection is designed with very minimal, clean lines and traditional set Cabochon. It can be hard as a designer to pull back and let the fundamentals carry the piece, as there is always a feeling of wanting to do more. These pieces have been kept classic, not over-designed or needing to have anything more than a perfect 'Black Canvas'... Enjoy. 

Give the clip below a watch, which will give you the best understanding of what we hope these designs to mean to all of you...

What is the Ring Library? 
This bison leather ring bible, is a record of every piece we have ever produced. 

Your ring has a record of; What design was produced, When it was cast, for Who and What city it was then shipped off too. 
I have always scuffled with the idea of imbuing the feeling of a ring with 'legacy', that will hopefully become a family heirloom. It's hard to get that concept across with just the design of a piece, as its more in the mentality of the wearer. A Bundy Ginger Beer lid could become an heirloom, passed through the generations - admittedly, this would be a piss poor inheritance - but the idea of legacy is still there. 

With The Ring Library, this gives some defined age and significance to the piece. Who knows where any of us will be in years to come, but know that for as long as Crooked Howlet Design's is kicking, this archive will be in the HQ.
We have a long time before the age of this log holds any sort of true significance, but we've got some things to dabble in, in the meantime. So crack a tin, spin a yarn, breed and we'll be here when you want to come by with your spawn and see the history of your ring.
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The New HQ

Posted by Ryan Purdie-Smith on

So I've had my nuts stapled to my forehead for the last two weeks, whilst we move into the new studio. Is that a traditional phrase for 'being busy'? Probably not. But yes, we have been busy. 

Just a quick update this week. The CHD HQ has relocated! Literally only about 35 metres, moved into a bigger premises in Precinct 75 (St Peters, Sydney). 

Super excited about this move, as real big things to come! Along with the growing team and bigger production area, the new HQ will have a display shop front which will be open most days. The setup will also be equipped for all customs, bespoke and engagement ring consultations. Our head jeweller Steve, specialised in handmade engagement rings before the move to CHD and will be making his services once again available for the dreamer who needs his missus to stick around. 

Essentially, anything shy of a prostate checkup, you'll be able to wrangle in the new studio. 

We'll keep you all posted on the first opening!


- Ryan

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The Annual Design Comp...

Posted by Ryan Purdie-Smith on

A new concept in the works; the CHD Annual Design Comp...
This is what she'll look like;
The competition will simply be the design of a piece jewellery; signet or pendant. People will enter their concept in the way of sketches, illustrations, 3D CAD models etc. Very few limitations and we'll give you a formate to follow closer to the time.
The comp will run once a year, with entries being allowed for two months leading up to the final date - during this time, we'll showcase all the designs online.
I have gone back and forth on how the winner will be drawn - I was thinking a voting system online, however I feel that having it as a CHD picking the winner is probably best. Otherwise, some punter who has drawn a cock and balls on a the back of a ciggie pack, might end up nabbing the win if he gets his solid crew of followers to vote on his design. Not saying the right cock and ball design can't win, but the concept will need to really speak to me.
I am always well impressed by some of the concept sketches and designs that customers come up with when commissioning a custom design. So I proper keen to see what you all brew up for us.
For the winning design; we will probably produce and sell for a limited period - another aspect that still needs ironing out. How the winner is awarded - a prize incentive, design royalty... still need to figure that side out. Either way, we'll do a bio on the winner, have a one-off exclusively engraved designer piece and let them ride the glory of the mediocre high.
I am hoping this is something that runs with CHD for as long as we're still kicking. I really want this to become a staple of our brand, something that rustles up some froth every year.
Stay subversively close and there will be more details to come soon.
- Ryan
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