Tonya Dickinson recreating jewellery that’s sustainable and empowering

Tonya Dickenson

It all began 45 years ago in Egypt. Tonya Dickinson, whose father was a Canadian diplomat posted in the ancient Middle Eastern country was wandering around a shuk (public market), and discovered a variety of antique beads and silver available for sale at the market. But what shocked her was the story behind how these items made their way to the market.

“I spent my formative years in Ottawa, where there were few people, and then we moved to Egypt, where there were tons of people, which I found overwhelming,” she said during a recent phone interview. “When I found those beads and silver at the shuk, I discovered that many of its people would search around for scrap metal or other items in order to earn a daily living and buy food, which I found to be quite eye-opening. In turn, the people at the shuk took these discarded pieces and repurposed them down the road as treasured pieces of jewelry.”

This discovery at this shuk in Egypt inspired her at the age of 10 to develop and design her own jewelry. She also pursued a career in the pharmaceutical industry, as well as international marketing and strategic planning, but jewellery from around the world was her passion. She travelled through the Middle East, South America, Asia and Africa to collect a wide variety of material to make her own jewelry.

However, like that defining moment at the shuk in Egypt, she found out that practically every piece she collected had a story to tell, and they were not happy ones. Throughout her travels, Ms. Dickinson saw first-hand how the jewelery industry was rife with social inequalities and the disproportionate impact of climate change. From there, she decided to embark upon a mission in which she would create unique pieces of jewelry that would not only empower women and artisans from developing nations, but also be a catalyst to help protect the environment across the globe.

And that formed the genesis of Asymmetric by Design. Created after Ms. Dickinson and her husband return to Canada in the wake of the COVID pandemic outbreak, Asymmetric by Design is dedicated to sending out the message of the importance of sustainability, human rights, freedom, democracy, women’s rights and environmental protection through uniquely crafted jewelry that features the vintage, antique and recycled items that she has collected since 1978, with an asymmetric, contemporary look to it.

During this year’s Montreal Fashion week, which runs from September 18 to 24, Ms. Dickinson will bring her jewelry crafting know how and message of ethical fashion and bringing positive change to two workshops that she will present on September 19 and 21 at the Montreal Art Centre and Museum, located at 1842 William Street.

“Usually, if you want to be involved with Montreal Fashion Week, the vetting process is a long one, and can take a few years before you get accepted to participate. However, the organizers were so impressed with what I had to offer, I got invited to this year’s fashion week,” she said.

The workshops will deal with the topics of jewelry upcycling and recycling, and how jewelry can make a statement. As well, there will be free personal consultations, and visitors can bring their own pieces of antique and vintage jewelry to learn how they can be revived and repurposed.

“These are value added workshops, where people can show us their treasures that they find in their drawers and closets, and see how they can give a second life to these rarely worn or inherited heirlooms,” she added.

No matter what kind of jewelry piece that will get assessed and shown how they can be repurposed during these workshops, Ms. Dickinson will also deliver the message of how repurposed jewelry can serve a purpose in today’s world.

“An individual can make a statement and stand for a cause based on what they wear,” she said. “Whether it be a brooch or a necklace, they can contribute to the survival of the planet, open people’s eyes and change the world. We need more consumers with a conscience, because there is a need to have a more circular economy, so we can stand up to what is unjust.”

For more information about Asymmetric by Design, go to, or check them out on Facebook, Instagram, YouTube and LinkedIn.

Stuart Nulman
By: Stuart Nulman –

Other articles from – –

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is Dryer-machine-on-fire.jpg

Mtl Duct Cleaning and dryer vent cleaning answering all your questions

Is it possible to get an A for a 5-paragraph essay assignment in 1 hour? We can safely say yes, a student can get an A+ mark if he turns to EduJungles

online casino

The future of online casino gaming in Ontario: What players need to know

The world of online casinos in Ontario is undergoing transformative changes, crafting a new landscape for enthusiasts of digital gaming. With recent advancements in legislation, Ontario’s residents are at the cusp of experiencing online casino gaming like never before. These changes are set to remake the online gaming experience, offering more options, better security, and

summer drink ideas

5 Refreshing summer drink ideas

Summer is the best time of year for many reasons: the warm weather, the sunshine, and the smell of barbecues. But one thing that always gets me feeling extra excited about summer is all the delicious drinks I can enjoy while sitting on my front porch or at a picnic table with friends. There are

The best gyms in Montreal

The best gyms in Montreal: Top 10 Mtl Gyms 2023

Montreal, known for its vibrant culture and scenic beauty, is also becoming a hotspot for fitness enthusiasts. If you’re on the hunt for the best gyms in Montreal, you’re in luck. With a surge in health-conscious residents and a growing demand for diverse workout spaces, Montreal’s gym landscape has evolved impressively. From state-of-the-art equipment to

Hard Drive Data Recovery

The ultimate guide to hard drive data recovery

In today’s digital age, our lives are intricately intertwined with data. It is the lifeblood of our personal memories, professional endeavors, and essential records. From cherished family photos capturing those precious moments to critical business documents that drive the economy forward, the importance of data cannot be overstated. However, amidst the conveniences and possibilities offered

Video editing

12-Editing 4K and HDR Videos for YouTube Using Online Video Editors

Video Editing – In the ever-evolving world of content creation, YouTube stands as a giant platform where creators from all walks of life share their stories, expertise, and entertainment. With the rise of high-resolution formats like 4K and the captivating visual experience of HDR (High Dynamic Range), the demand for top-quality video content has never

online casino slots

Why do people play free online casino slots?

We can all agree that some of the best things in life are free—and this is equally true when it comes to online casino slots. It may seem counterintuitive to play for free; after all, if you don’t bet anything, you can’t win anything!  However, playing games for free is definitely not a waste of

Mtltimes Subscription

The latest on what’s moving Montreal and the world – delivered straight to your inbox