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NY Times – About New York; Starting Over: Good Move, Bad Karma

This is the New York Times Logo

Story: David Gonzales

Photography: Bill Cunningham

April 8, 1998

AFTER years at building a successful jewelry business in Australia, Ray Griffiths knew it was time to move on. Although his work had appeared on dozens of magazine covers and in countless fashion spreads, he had tired of appearing at the same places on the Sydney party circuit. He could have chosen Paris or London as his new home, but those towns didn’t have the allure of New York. He saved his money and planned to move to the city and get a fabulous job designing jewelry at some funky atelier before striking out on his own.

”Eventually, the day came when I had enough money to risk everything,” he said. ”Well, not risk everything. I had been in the business for 18 years and I was bored. I wanted to take on a new challenge.”

He’s bored no more, and it turned out he did risk just about all he had. A few weeks after packing all of the paintings, jewelry molds, art books and exotic knickknacks he had collected during his years of globe-trotting, he wound up in New York with just his suitcases. Everything else, which he had sent ahead by ship, vanished. The shipping company, he learned, went bankrupt, and he has had no luck since in finding the container with a lifetime of mementos.

Like it or not, the man from Down Under had to start over.

”Somewhere in the world, stuff is out there with my name on it,” he said. ”You never figure everything in your life would disappear.”

Perhaps some puzzled South Pacific islanders are picking through trinkets that washed ashore on the whim of a wayward cargo god. Perhaps his goods are stashed away in some musty warehouse. Mr. Griffiths has yet to figure it out, although he has asked his brother back in Australia to make a few inquiries for him.

It’s not that he wants a settlement from the shipping company, if one was offered. Money can’t replace what took him years to collect: sheafs of newspaper and magazine clippings, gifts from friends, original sketches of his designs. Worse, the shipment included a recently discovered bundle of letters his father wrote when he was in the military during World War II.

”All of a sudden, I had these things that connected me with him again,” he said. ”Just all the things you have in a life. You get wiped out, and there’s nothing left.”

It was as if he could not prove who he was. Gone, too, were the certificates and letters that attested to his skills as a gemologist. A handful of those survive, which he tossed into his suitcases at the last minute before boarding a plane to the States in September. One of them shows a sparkling, curvaceous curiosity: his ”Homage to Jessica Rabbit” earrings, which were finalists for the 1995 De Beers Diamond Award.

AT least his friends always knew he was a winner. Soon after he arrived, they banded together to help him rebuild his life and furnish his apartment. Each donated two of everything: spoons, forks, plates and cups. A jeweler pal from Australia, who grew up in Pittsburgh, gave him a set of tools she had left in her hometown. To pay the bills, an old buddy landed him a job at a clothing store in SoHo, where he works three days a week for a modest salary and clothing.

”I’m in retail land now,” he said. ”They’ve been very good to me. They give me outfits to make sure I look good, so when I’m in the poorhouse I won’t look terrible.”

He actually looks upbeat, considering. Two days ago, he got back to work, in a newly rented studio in the meatpacking district along West 14th Street. He hunched over a workbench, using a tiny torch with a slender flame to melt some gold scraps he later pressed into fine wire.

”It takes a little while to get back to doing this,” he said. ”It’s testing my patience.”

What else is new? He was able to afford the work space by moving from his Chinatown high-rise to a cheaper place on the Lower East Side. This time, he took no chances and hauled the stuff himself. Not that there was all that much.

The whole experience has left him with some good cocktail party stories, as well as a new appreciation for minimalism. That will be reflected in his new creations, since an artist is always inspired by his life and surroundings.

New York was still a good choice, he insisted. For that, he thanks his friends. Telling them, however, is another story. The day he moved, his computer crashed, taking with it all his addresses and phone numbers.

”Why didn’t the cosmos just write me a letter?” he said. ”What did I do in my last life?”

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Town & Country – Stars & Signs

This one was a match made in heaven, I am a Leo so having my Hessonite Garnet ring paired up with my star sign in this months Town and Country was serendipitous.

This asymmetric ring has a natural, flowing, organic shape.  The ring was designed to mimic the beautiful misshapes that nature provides with some pave diamonds to surround the stone. Because we all need a sparkling halo.

 Click here to see more details about this beauty.

I have made this ring in lots of beautiful gemstones. Turquoise, Black Jade, Chrysoprase, Amethyst.  It really is one of my favorites to make and I love exploring new gems to use with this style

Click here to see more of these gorgeous asymmetric rings.

xo Ray


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Town & Country – Featured

It is always such a thrill to be featured in Town & Country, it’s such a style staple.  October is Opal month and the Stars and Signs page always has fabulous jewels paired up with everyone’s signs.

One of my all time favorite crownwork® east west opal rings with pave diamond surround was paired up with Virgo and I think its a perfect match.


 for a closer look at this beauty

xo Ray

PS – How fabulous does Sharon Stone look on the cover!?!?!


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Ray Griffiths x Gem Gossip

Danielle Miele started her wildly popular blog “Gem Gossip” over 10 years ago and is beloved in the industry for her love and appreciation for jewelry and telling their story.  She came by the studio on a visit to New York, took fabulous photos and shared Ray’s story her way.

After years of wanting to meet Ray Griffiths, I finally got my chance on this trip to New York City! I’ve heard many great stories about him and have seen collectors obsess over his work. In a world of jewelry designers, Ray is Mr. Congeniality and as genuine as they come. He has Australian roots and an innate longing to work with jewelry, as he began his career as an apprentice when he was just a young boy. With dreams of having his own atelier one day in the US, he eventually moved to NYC and built his career one jewel at a time. His studio sits on 5th Avenue, overlooking gorgeous views and a bird’s eye view of Midtown, stretching out to Central Park.”

Click here to read the full post of Gem Gossip