When Katherine Ryan’s comedy career began to take off, she celebrated by heading to London store Liberty – to buy herself a diamond ring. ‘I wore it on my wedding finger. People would notice it and say are you married?’ I’d say nope, I bought it for myself cos I’m married to the hustle. I wore it to inspire other women’.
The undisputed queen of British comedy is a fan of sparkly rocks. You’ll see her wearing them on stage for her sell out tours, when she’s playing The Duchess in her acclaimed Netflix show, or delivering a mic drop slam on a TV show. She even wears some when she sleeps – a row of exquisite whisper thin hoop earrings encrusted with white diamonds. ‘They’re by Maria Tash – I saw them on Kylie Jenner and liked the idea of having a row of piercings with beautiful diamonds that look classy and delicate. I never take them off’.
She’s also a fan of jewellery maker Suzanne Kalan, whose stylish reinvention of baguette cut diamonds has helped elevate them from humble centrepiece sidekicks, into headliner stones. ‘I love her rings!’ says Katherine, ‘they’re chunky and unique and great for stacking’.
Katherine’s jewellery passion is being handed down to her 12-year-old daughter Violet who recently got her ears pierced, (‘her choice, I’m not the kind of mom who gets her baby’s navel pierced’). So Violet also sports a tiny pair of Maria Tash diamond hoops now. ‘She wears normal kids’ stuff, this was a one off. But I like the idea of mothers buying diamonds for their daughter’s, I don’t want her to grow up thinking she has to get a man to do that’.
It was just over a decade ago that Katherine began dipping her toe into the UK comedy circuit after relocating from her native Canada. Having a three-week-old baby didn’t stop her – she simply performed with Violet strapped to her chest. And now she’s become a global comedy phenomenon, with razor sharp takes on motherhood, female empowerment and a killer stage wardrobe. It’s not often you see a stand-up dressed like the Editor-in-Chief of Italian Vogue- in Gucci pussy bow blouses and Aquazzura strappy sandals, but she does it for a reason.
“When I started in comedy, I was told that being glam was ‘too distracting’, she says. ‘But I refused to wear hoodies. To me that’s disrespectful to an audience who’ve come out on a Saturday night. I want to look powerful and aspirational’.
She credits her high glam stage looks to long-term stylist Jennifer Michalski Bray (who earnt her stripes on Gossip Girl). ‘There’s this idea that you can’t be feminine and funny, and have to dress in a male way to do the job of a comedian. I wear sparkle and jewellery to challenge that, a woman can exude very female energy and still be funny and own a room.’.
Her dedication to gems meant it was a big yes when the BBC asked her to host new jewellery making talent show All That Glitters. The series sees contestants battle it out under the gaze of designers Solange Azagury-Partridge and Shaun Leane . With Katherine on hand to dispense encouragement, glam and comedy gold throughout.
In one episode the entrants were tasked with creating a diamond engagement ring. ‘The couple were both teachers’, says Katherine’ and the jewellers really listened to their story to make sure it personal. And they worked with these stunning, Canadian diamonds which are all ethical and sustainable’.
The ethical history of a diamond is something we’re all increasingly conscious of – it’s not just about cut, colour carat and clarity anymore. It’s about knowing the gem you’re wearing for a lifetime leaves a positive legacy.
The All That Glitters team worked with the Natural Diamond Council when sourcing their stones, as their members all ensure local diamond mining communities are being supported, and natural resources are protected. And fittingly for a show fronted by Katherine they’re also committed to empowering women, both in indigenous local areas and within the industry – at least a third of the diamond producing workforce are now female. They’ve also launched initiatives to encourage more female jewellery designers – as Katherine herself points out, ‘Who better placed than women to know how women want to look?’
This isn’t the first time Katherine’s been linked with glitter, she named her 2020 tour and Netflix special ‘The Glitter Room’, as an homage to the interior design of the converted church she bought for her and Violet. “Violet wanted a Glitter Room with glitter carpet, wall and disco ball. When I told the builder, he said ‘No man will ever want to live here. When will the decision maker be home?’ I said she’s at school for two more hours. So, you better hurry up’.
Their glittery all female space, taught her she could shape her own home and family in exactly the way she chose. ‘Buying my own home was like buying my own diamonds, I didn’t want to wait for it to be bought for me. It’s why I tell women not to live their lives waiting for a partner, that makes you feel worthless. I met the right person at the exact point I wasn’t looking to be saved’.
The right person was Bobby K, the handsome childhood sweetheart she reunited with and married in Copenhagen in 2019. Both now sport diamond wedding bands. ‘Bobby’s dad died when he was ten so it’s special that he’s inherited his wedding ring, it’s really unique with five little diamonds,’ she says. Katherine also wears a beautifully chic diamond eternity band bought by Bobby. ‘It’s an engagement and wedding ring in one, it’s not a giant rock that dominates everything, it’s subtle and classy – like Bobby.’.
I could chat diamonds with the fabulous Katherine all day but she has a comedy empire to run, planning her tour Missus, recording her podcast Telling Everybody Everything, and finishing her book The Audacity out later this year. She also has to get home to Violet, Bobby K and their four tiny dogs, Manny, Dalai, Meg Ryan and Cardi B.
‘You know Joan Rivers had it right, ‘she says finally, ‘she worked every day of her life to accumulate her own fortune, respect and great jewellery. At the end of the day that’s what every woman deserves – a lot of tiaras and a lot of great small dogs.’