Feature Friday – Russell Brown

“My biggest tip to those in our industry: take pride in what you create.” – Russell Brown

 

Russell Brown Goldsmith Bench

Meet Russell Brown

At the age of 15, Russell Brown started in the jewelry industry with his father. In the early 80s, Brown’s dad bought jewelry from a family friend and began selling the gold at the Seminole Flea Market in Florida. Once he graduated high school, Brown opened another location at the Oldsmar flea market. After operating two flea market locations for a year or so, Brown and his father opened a jewelry store in Plant City, Florida in 1986. This is when Russell perfected the art of goldsmithing.

Opening a location in Plant City turned out to be the best thing for their business. Since both Russell and his father were Plant City natives, they had a built-in customer base. The two considered moving their business down the I4 corridor to Tampa, but soon realized they would miss their Plant City patrons. “I still have customers today that will come and tell me about the days when my father ran the store,” Russell tells. “It’s nice being able to hear the stories about him because it’s like a piece of him lives through Brown’s Jewelers.”

“My biggest tip to those in our industry: take pride in what you create.” – Russell Brown ⚒ Click To Tweet

Russell has always worked behind the scenes. When he and his father ran the store, he would work in the back on his bench, fixing repair jobs and creating new pieces. He loves benchwork and the opportunity it provides to express his creativity. As with most small business owners, each day brings about something new. Russell makes sure to help in all areas of the store, leading by example and showing his employees versatility with each passing day.

Russell Brown Jewelers Custom Design

A few custom pieces in the making

“I really enjoy what I do. I’ve always been artistic, but working with gold and silver is a completely different field,” Russell Brown says. “I like being able to make something from nothing and create jewelry others are proud to wear.”

After 35 years of jewelry-making, it seems like working in any other industry wouldn’t satisfy Russell’s creative needs. Like his favorite part about the job, for example – creating new, extraordinary pieces out of old unwanted items. “I get excited when my customers bring items they no longer wish to have and ask me to make them something completely new,” Brown explains. “It gives me creative freedom without any boundaries.”

Straying away from cookie-cutter styles is what makes Brown’s jewelers different from all the rest. We strive to offer superior service to our customers, exceeding their needs while setting our store apart from the competition. As the Goldsmith, Russell Brown makes sure to sit down with customers one-on-one to discuss their wants and expectations. He also continues to learn all he can about the field, ensuring his customers receive the most accurate information. By keeping them well-informed, customers seem to return time after time.

Over the years, the jewelry industry has changed greatly, but Russell has stayed true  to the trade by still creating items by hand. And while the laser welder has posed to greatest technical challenge to our store, this valuable tool has helped Brown’s Jewelers create custom designs and quality repairs more quickly.

Russell Brown Plant City Brown's JewelersTo keep up with Brown’s Jewelers, follow them on Facebook!


Did you like this jeweler feature? If you did, don’t stop reading! Find more featured jewelers here.




Post-Sales tips

Be a Timeless Bride (With a Trendy Twist)

Today’s brides want to make an individual fashion statement. But, it doesn’t mean that they want to venture too far from the beaten path when it comes to picking an engagement ring. Subtle details like small adjustments or hidden elements are just the right touches to make a ring unique to its wearer (Customization helps too, as almost 50% of brides opt to add a custom element to their rings – Knot Survey, 2015). If your brides are looking to make a classic statement, offer some of these suggestions:

Two-Stone Engagement Rings

With so much symbolism behind them, two-stone rings are great because they are multipurpose. They can be used to symbolize love or celebrate a special occasion all while providing a unique look. Bypass and halo-style — two elements that we’ve seen before keep this ring in a traditional playing field.

Horizontal Halo-Style Engagement Rings

Who knew something so simple as changing the direction of a stone would create such an updated engagement ring, even on the most classic style? East-to-west engagements do just that!

Solitaire Engagement Rings

This solitaire is one of my all-time favorites this year. It has a lot of substance to it, with a very substantial width shank, six prongs around the center stone, and beautiful sparkle surrounding the gallery. So classic with a glam touch. Sometimes adding a bit of hidden sparkle is all you need.

Diamond-Accented X Engagement Ring

This ring is for the bride looking for something none of her friends will have. We started with a very modern X shank, added a pattern to the inside, and topped the whole ring off with edgy and updated claw prongs holding the center stone in place.

Vintage-Inspired Engagement Rings

Vintage styling has made a huge statement this year. It is the trend customers are asking for more than anything. We have taken many classic styles and added feminine, romantic details through metal work and diamond accents to create timeless vintage looks.

Solitaire Engagement Rings with Hidden Elements

Gallery accents and two-tone styles have been on our bridal radar all year long. Brides love being able to add a little something special that only she might know about on the gallery of the ring, using unique details, and mixing up the metal color a bit with a touch of rose or yellow gold.

What are your thoughts on these unique styles? Are there any other distinctive looks your customers love? Share with us in the comments below!




Feature Friday – Dianna Rae High

Butterfly

This butterfly brooch won Best of Show at the 2015 Case Awards.

I started in the jewelry business when I married my husband in 1984. He grew up in a family jewelry store and my father-in-law inspired me to get into the business.  Many years later, I still love to be on the sales floor! Being a part of the most special time in someone’s life can be very rewarding.  There’s nothing like a hug from a client when she comes in to tell me that she said “yes!”. Or getting to hold the baby for the first time after selling a “push present”.  Or hearing nostalgic stories from a couple celebrating their 50th anniversary.

I’ve always loved to design jewelry for clients.  My goal is to help them find their inner designer.  It makes each piece of jewelry that I create so personal. So when my husband’s job moved us from Iowa to Louisiana, I dreamed of opening up a jewelry store that focused on custom design. My dream came true when I opened up Dianna Rae Jewelry.  Everything we do is custom, whether for stock or for a client.  And with Matrix, CounterSketch and 3D printing, custom gets easier every day.

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Our store

It’s pretty different here in the south. People are so, so nice. They love to share their family stories, their heritage, and of course, their food! Because heritage is so important here, we make a lot of family crest type jewelry like cuff links and rings.

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A cigar ring

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Custom cuff links

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Custom eternity band

When a client asked me to make an eternity band with 12 one carat radiant cut diamonds, I couldn’t have imagined doing it without the technology that I have today.  The diamonds had to be precision cut and matched to fit her finger size.  The cutter scanned them and sent me the STL files of each diamond for our Matrix design.  When she tried it on for the first time and it fit perfectly, we all breathed a sigh of relief.

Pendant

This labradorite pendant placed 1st in its category at the 2015 Case Awards.

As much as I love my job and my clients, I have to remind myself how important it is to maintain a balance.  I keep God first, then family and friends, then work.  Being a wife and a mom and a business owner can be crazy at times.  But really, life is too short to be boring.




Feature Friday – Elizabeth Raffel

When I was 5, my father gave me a hardbound black book with lined pages. I think it was an appointment calendar with hours marked along the side of each page. Instantly, it became my most treasured possession, a magical space for all my dearest thoughts and dreams. Soon after, my family moved and the book disappeared. I was inconsolable and kept searching for it in our new home. It never did turn up.

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Just a few of my many, many journals

When I was a little older, I poured my heart into diaries — locked so no prying eyes could see them. I still have them and they’re equal parts humorous and heart-wrenching. And as an adult, I made up for my early loss by collecting many lined journals that I filled with thoughts and experiences.

 

Getting into words

I didn’t plan to be a writer. But my parents were verbally sophisticated and my siblings and I were expected to speak like adults as soon as possible. Ditto for conducting intelligent conversation with adults. It was expected and we did it. My mother read to us a lot and soon enough we were reading, lost in story world. This emphasis on words and how to use them meant writing came naturally to me.

 

As if that weren’t enough

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My daughter, Wendy, and I

I grew up, went to college, and married a writer and professor who wrote and published extensively. While pregnant with our daughter, one of my husband’s former graduate students became an editor at a New York romance publishing house. For some reason, she thought she could convince him to write a romance.

She failed but I took the bait. I mailed her two chapters and three days later, I had a contract. It wasn’t great money — no royalties — but it was something. I wrote several more romances, but I didn’t like the solitary life of a writer. I needed to be around people and get more immediate feedback.

 

Advertising saves the day

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My first professional picture as a copywriter

That’s when I started thinking about advertising. My father had worked in advertising, marketing, and sales for years because it was impossible to support his growing family as a professor. He took to it like a duck to water. I remembered him critiquing ads and pointing out what worked and what didn’t. And like most Americans, I had years of experience watching and reading ads.

The first agency I approached hired me and I’ve spent most of my working life in this world. I’m an enthusiast, motivated by the opportunity to learn about different products, services, and subjects. And I love deadlines because I like completing projects quickly if at all possible.

 

 

 

Meeting Stuller Inc.

I live five minutes from here, but I had only the sketchiest idea about Stuller. Fine jewelry, big building, local founder and philanthropist: that was it. As luck would have it, I joined Stuller’s Marketing Department in March 2013 to fill in for a copywriter going on maternity leave. I hoped she’d be here to show me the ropes. Guess what? Her baby arrived the day before I began. Let’s just say I had a steep learning curve as I absorbed Stuller’s vast domain and product selection.

 

As some of you know

Those of you who’ve attended Bridge®, BenchJeweler Workshop, or technology training, know what I mean when I say Stuller is mind-boggling. Touring the building soon after I started, I was left almost — but not quite! — speechless. In all honesty, words can’t fully communicate the size and manufacturing capabilities housed under this big roof.

 

Get the picture?

Pictures and video give some idea of Stuller but you have to experience the scale, the many people, the processes, the machinery, and technology. Everything is in motion at the same time and everyone is working on some aspect of jewelry creation. Then you see how it all comes together and gets shipped to you. That’s an adventure in itself.

 

Our Marketing Department

When I started in Marketing, it included PR and social media, and photography and video people and resources. We numbered 30+ amazing people. Soon we merged with our ecommerce department, premier events, the Stuller.com programmers, and our customer experience team. We now have 80+ amazing people. We touch everything you see from our famous catalogs and the entire Stuller.com universe to brochures, emails, handouts, and the booth graphics you see at tradeshows.

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The Marketing Team

 

Platinum quality

I used to say my coworkers were worth their weight in gold. Now I tell people they’re worth their weight in platinum. I have rarely if ever encountered such a dedicated and committed group — especially one of this size. Their work ethic and positive attitude never cease to amaze and inspire me. No matter what pressure they’re under, they’ll drop what they’re doing to help someone else. In other words, we’re a team. Management holds us to high standards and we all look for ways to improve. The thing is, that’s pretty much the story throughout the company.

 

By the way

During my interview, my current boss said it was a good place to work. Of course, I wanted to judge for myself. After three years, I couldn’t agree more.

 




A Gemvision Narrative – The Pirate Ship Ring

Working in Gemvision technical support, we get our fair share of requests to create designs. Although technical support is not a distribution?, we are an education and support system for our users. Often times, we will get requests for designs that really stand out, and we always remember that one design.

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One of the computer renderings of the pirate ship ring

A particular design that always stands out to me was the request to make a pirate ship ring. There was no blueprint on how to, nor was there any request for us to make it a certain way. The request came by e-mail, as they mostly do, and it reads something similar to this, “Can you show me how to go about making a ring look like a pirate ship?” Normally, we request an image or some mockup of the design. This time, we didn’t even get that. The request sounded so entertaining I didn’t care that there was little to no information. So, after that, the brainstorming began. What would a pirate ship ring look like? Would I just create a band and place a pirate ship on top? These were questions I had that only my imagination could answer. My first draft was just that, a silly boat on top of a signet ring. This design was not cool enough for me. And if it wasn’t cool enough for me, it wasn’t cool enough for the customer either. I really had to dig deep. What did I love about the ocean? Everything! The sea and I, I feel, have always been one. No matter how far inland I get, I can always hear the waves calling. And once I get in the waves, I want to swim out as far as I can.

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Taking a look at life below the surface. Check out more of my diving adventure here.

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One of the shipwrecks found near the shore of the Turks and Caicos Islands

I once did this in the Turks and Caicos Islands. A friend and I snorkeled 900 feet off the beach in Grand Turk, a place that has the bluest water in the Caribbean and possibly the entire world, I feel. The ocean floor is littered with sand dollars, and the coral is scattered in chunks along the bottom. The beach we were at, called Governor’s Beach, was completely empty of all people and had a shipwreck right on it. The scene was something out of a dream. The coral and sea life became better and better the further we swam out into open water. Our camera equipment was rolling the whole time. We saw many fish, such as a big puffer fish. At one point, an octopus swam directly beneath us. So, the Indiana Jones in me suggested I follow it. Of course I listened to that inner adventurer, following it to a small coral cave that was littered with small shark bones and sea turtle bones. If you do not know this, octopuses eat anything and everything. The eight-tentacle sea creature was carrying a large horned crab shell in one of its tentacles, and I wanted that natural trophy as evidence from the experience. I reached my hand in his cave and fought with him for about three seconds and took it. Judge me if you want, but can anyone else say they took something from an octopus? Just when we were ready to swim back, we found an actual shipwreck. It had been there so long, the only thing left was the steel frame. A local told us all the wood from the ship used to be there, however hurricanes ripped it apart and washed up on the beach. He stated that most of the picnic tables on the beach were made with the wood from that ship. The experience as well as the visuals from Grand Turk Island were something out of a dream. Describing it and experiencing it are two different things.

Back to the pirate ship ring. I infused all of these elements I experienced into the design of this ring. The octopus, the sunken ship, the beached shipwreck, the thought of pirates and buried treasure.

The experience in the Caribbean definitely was inspiration for this piece of jewelry, and the design came naturally as I reflected on that clear blue water. I’ve learned that paying for experience, rather than things, makes life feel fuller. It also stimulates incredible creative inspiration. If you want a good idea, or have some form of creative blockage, go outside and experience nature.

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Wax model of the pirate ship ring

This design was mainly created with TSplines Signet builder and then TSpline parts manipulated to fit around the ring.

 




Meet Craig Farley

Craig Farley (Defendant)An artist at heart, Craig Farley’s specialty is working with customers and translating their ideas into purposeful pieces. His passion is creating future heirlooms for people who are looking for something personal and meaningful.

His career as a bench jeweler began 22 years ago. He started as a polisher at a small trade shop, and then quickly progressed to general repairs. Next, he tried his hand at fabrication. Craig understood the value of continuing education and took a wide variety of courses ranging from advanced diamond setting at GIA to a mokume gane workshop by Steve Midgett. Wax carving was next on his list of things to learn. After mastering, Craig realized that in order to take his business to the next level, he had to jump into computer-aided design (CAD). “Repairs are the backbone of a good shop,” says Craig. “But custom design makes it so much more than just a job to me.” Although he doesn’t accept tips, he has more happy tears, hugs, cards, and cookies than he knows what to do with.

Craig’s deep passion for CAD design gave him the confidence to enter last year’s SMART Jewelry Show Chicago’s Bench Pressure Challenge. Craig works well under pressure and demonstrated that last year by taking home top honors for round #1 of the challenge and overall co-champion.

But when it comes to the Battle of the Benches, there can only be one winner. And Craig’s hungry for his next title. Being in a competition like this humbles yet energizes him as he enjoys working around other creative minds. “I feel this [Battle of the Benches] will be a fun learning experience, as well as, a great, personal challenge.”

Craig’s other passions include martial arts and playing guitar in the local music scene. “Maybe the discipline of martial arts training mixed with my inner rock star make me a good challenger,” he suggests. The spotlight doesn’t bother Craig and he’s looking forward to competing in Battle of the Benches!

Here are some of Craig’s pieces:

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This elegant but edgy piece was designed around a 2 carat princess cut, using 14K palladium white and rose gold.

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For this piece Craig used his customer’s diamonds from her old jewelry. The center stone is a 4.5 carat sapphire. It was challenging but fun to squeeze all the diamonds into a pleasing shape.

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This is one of Craig’s favorite pieces. It’s hand fabricated in 14KY, set with an emerald shaped ametrine. A flush set yellow sapphire is on the side, and it has shakudo mokume gane inlay to accent the colors of the center stone.

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This is a redesign of a common marquise shape cluster ring. Craig took an old worn out ring and created a fun modern look.

Which is your favorite Craig Farley piece? Tell us in the comment section below.




MEET JONATHAN SMIDDY

jsA graduate from the Texas Institute of Jewelry Technology, Jonathan Smiddy knew he wanted to be a bench jeweler right after high school when he took an interest in Indian handy crafts.

Today, Jonathan has twenty-one years of jewelry experience under his belt and is a bench jeweler at Acori Diamonds & Design in Friendswood, Texas. Here, he spends his days repairing and making jewelry, including changing watch batteries.

Jonathan’s passion is building new and exciting pieces. His specialty is creating unique, modern designs that end up being geometric works of art.

According to Jonathan, he works best when he’s under pressure – this is why the thinks he’ll walk away from the Battle of the Benches victorious. “Why not?” he says. Jonathan is a pretty well-rounded bench guy, however, he enjoys setting stones the most. At the moment, his biggest challenge is getting a 3D print resin to cast properly, but he knows he’ll get it soon!

When he’s not busy at the store, he enjoys visiting museums, camping, spending time with family, and attending church. His favorite part of being a jeweler so far is having the opportunity to create his wife’s and his wedding bands.

One of his most fond memories includes meeting jeweler, Robert Whiteside before he passed. “His shop was as crazy as the jewelry he made,” says Jonathan.

To see what the other contestants are up against, here is some of Jonathan’s work below:

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The customer really liked my long, sweeping design elements and tapered diamonds. This piece is titanium with a drusy quartz.

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As an experiment, I fabricated these earrings without the use of the laser welder. They’re slices of watermelon tourmaline.

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This is the beginning of a series of studies on engagements rings utilizing two tone in euro shanks.

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A competition piece I designed featuring lapis with diamond, tsavorite garnet, and synthetic padparsha accents.

Which is your favorite Jonathan Smiddy piece? Tell us in the comment section below.




Meet Patrick Dobbs

patrickdobbsA 27-year jewelry design vet, Patrick Dobbs works for Dianna Rae Jewelry in Lafayette, LA. Growing up in West Texas, his passion for jewelry began when a teacher offered him a job making belt buckles. It was this teacher who encouraged Patrick to pursue a career in the jewelry industry.

Today, Patrick is a jack-of-all-trades. Not only does he design, but he also sells, uses CAD, milling, 3D printing, stone setting, fabrication, and more. For him, working under pressure is a daily thing; especially on days he bezel sets a $10,000 Tanzanite!

“It can be very technical and challenging,” says Patrick, talking about creating special jewelry for someone. “But, it can also be very emotionally rewarding.” One of the pieces he remembers most is a mother’s ring he created for a mother who had recently lost a child. “To her, that ring meant the world.”

Another neat fact: Patrick has made quite a bit of jewelry for professional athletes. He once made a pendant for his favorite team’s running back. When the running back was interviewed on TV after winning a playoff game, he was wearing the pendant Patrick made. “It was quite a rush to see that, especially after a playoff win,” says Patrick.

During his free time, Patrick loves to work out, and even though he’s not great at it, he also likes to play tennis. He also spends his free time working on his Jeep Wrangler. Whether it’s jewelry or cars he enjoys working with his hands.

When asked about his favorite part of the job, “it’s all about the reveal,” he says. “Seeing a customer’s face light up when they see the jewelry that I’ve worked so hard to create is indescribable.”

Here are some of Patrick’s past creations:

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A customer brought in several different design ideas that she liked and Patrick combined them into one fabulous piece.

opal earrings

These earrings are made of sapphires and tsavorite garnet that graduate in color from yellow to green. These took him about 6 months to create because it was very difficult to get the proper sizes and colors of each gemstone.

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When creating this 12.75 CTTW eternity band, he had to print the ring using a 3D printer with the diamonds in place just to get the correct finger size and to make sure that it wasn’t uncomfortable for his customer to wear.

 three stone ring

This was the first ring Patrick created when he started at Dianna Rae Jewelry. He says, “They had three princess-cut stones and wanted to create something that would be easier to sell than a traditional three-stone ring.” When the store finally opened in August 2015, it was the first piece to sell!

 Which is your favorite Patrick Dobbs piece? Tell us in the comment section below.




High Fashion. High Concept. Highly Creative.

Congratulations to Travis Withers, a member of Stuller’s award-winning jewelry design team who won Best in Show at this year’s Platinum Innovation Awards at JCK 2015. This year Stuller’s design team submitted several designs ranging from a mix of bridal and fashion. But there can only be one winner, and the judges loved the intricacies of the diamond pendent. Congrats, Travis, and all who participated!

Take a look below to see what Travis says about his award winning piece. And read about what inspired other Stuller designers.

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Screen Shot 2015-06-01 at 9.41.10 AMWhen presented with the opportunity to work in platinum, a metal known as much for its complexities as its luster and durability, I was inspired to create something that would test its limitations while exploring its strengths. I’ve always had an interest in dome architecture, particularly the lamella styling. While creating the domed structure, I found myself exploring the patterns that emerged when the two domes were positioned opposite of one another, and after much experimentation, what I had finally achieved was a perfect vault formed by a delicate almost lace-like shell. The opposing pattern seen from the front of the pendant just beckoned for a little texture and glimmer, so I added a light spray of pavé-set diamond melee to really create a bit of pop.

In architecture, domes are often the celebratory moment of a structure, and I felt that the piece needed a focal point to really give the design some presence. After initially working with a pearl and ultimately deciding that it was a less harmonious pairing than I’d originally thought, I decided that nothing less than the majesty of a diamond should be placed at its oculus.


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Screen Shot 2015-06-01 at 9.34.16 AMHaving access to the finest metals, gemstones and diamonds, one can’t help but find inspiration in two such beautifully proportioned pear-shape diamonds, one white and the other a contrasting intense fancy yellow, set in an elegant back drop of platinum. While the pear shape diamonds alone are stunning, I wanted to bring a sense of unity and fluidity to the composition without over-designing, so I added a beautiful curvilinear fringe composed from small diagonally positioned marquise-cut diamonds. I think I achieved the fluidity and unity I was seeking and was pleased with the subtle textural or fringe like quality that emerged.


 

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Screen Shot 2015-06-01 at 9.38.02 AM“I always thought that inspiration is for amateurs. The rest of us show up and get to work.” -Chuck Close. Part of a person’s education will always be play, experimentation, and chance.  I also believe that an element of this exists in our work. As a designer, I consider myself to be a creative problem solver, even though I’m usually the one creating the problems. I personally enjoy playing with contradictions, in this case ordered, geometric shapes and chaotic, asymmetrical design problems. This project was born out of an attempt to balance these factors, manifesting as conversations between matter and space, color and shape.


 

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Screen Shot 2015-06-01 at 9.38.58 AMAs a very competitive person, designing for a contest often draws out my most enthusiastic and focus-inducing creative process. The first and most difficult task is to impress myself; I am my hardest critic and my most difficult adversary. There is no better victory than to first outdo the “me of yesterday.” My sole inspiration and goal for this ring was purely to design a piece of jewelry that, when the pencil dropped, would trigger me to push my chair away from my desk and say, “That’s awesome!”


 

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Screen Shot 2015-06-01 at 10.02.49 AMIt is an artist’s gift to breathe life into the inanimate. One must carefully choose the perfect materials for one’s creations, with all parts carefully planned in the creator’s mind. I’m very drawn to very minimalist designs, preferring clean, well placed lines and simple surfaces that allow all of my chosen materials to come together in a natural and harmonious composition. The platinum was a given for this design, but when I saw the fiery pear- shaped precious topaz for the first time, I knew that it was the perfectly aligned with my vision. The final element needed to complete my design was a beautiful hand-selected pear-cut diamond. I wanted the two gems to appear as if they were being drawn toward each other, so I used strategic spacing and setting techniques to achieve a feeling of tension and movement in the overall piece.

If you’re at JCK you can check these pieces out in person. Click here to see a complete list of entries. And don’t forget to let us know what you think. Who knows – maybe one day a version of these will be available for purchase!




Where Creativity and Inspiration Meet: Part Two

In part one of this two-part series, I talked to Chuck Bowman, Stuller’s Senior Product Designer, about how he got his start in the jewelry industry and what his job entails. Today, Chuck shares his design process, sources of inspiration, and tips for bench craftsmen and jewelry designers.

When you are designing, where do you start?
Once the project has a defined objective or directive, I think it all over and begin to form mental associations that kick-start the first few sketches. The initial scribbles don’t have to be very good – and often aren’t – but they set things in motion. At that stage it’s not really design, per se. It’s more like very loose exploration and visual explanation of the assignment. As the sketches come, I try to identify the ones that seem to be working and those that aren’t, and make it a point to mentally articulate to myself why. The ebb and flow of that process leads to more disciplined, strategic thinking and I gradually grow more deliberate.

Where do you draw inspiration?
Countless things, people, events and concepts inspire me – including the process itself.

In any given collection, for example, there are many interdependent elements in the product development puzzle. Early in the process those elements often don’t play well together and at that stage, the collection rarely constitutes a well-oiled machine capable of efficiently serving its purpose. Over the course of the project you find the strong points and the weak ones; diagnose what’s working and what’s not; and revise, tweak, refine until hopefully the whole is greater than the sum of its parts. Pursing that optimal medley and seeing it come together is hugely inspiring.

Why a BIC pen?
Paper Mate, actually. At the conceptual stage, erasing is an unnecessary waste of time, and you lose your mistakes. I learn a lot seeing how, when, and why a poor line turns into an elegant one; how, when, and why a clumsy design begins to rock. Consequently, I prefer to keep the mistakes and “history” very present. That means I sometimes lay down a lot of ink. If it was pencil it would smudge, diffusing the essence of what’s working. Ink scribbles can be messy, but for me they’re still decipherable.

What’s your design philosophy?
Brevity.

What advice or tips would you give to fellow bench craftsmen or jewelry designers?

  1. Take beauty, the artistic element, the nuance very seriously – it’s the soul of what we do.
  2. Understand and respect the creative process and your need to be able to replenish your mind.
  3. Know your craft and be a business person first. Know the market, your customers and what they need from you even before they do.
  4. Understand that pretty and creative isn’t enough. Every detail of every piece and every piece in a collection should be smart, strategic, and purposeful.

Where do you derive your inspiration? Share that and any tips you might have for up-and-coming jewelry professionals here.

Image credit: Dan Jones