Manon Crespi sat down with Ray at the Couture jewelry show in Vegas and talked all things jewelry for her incredible You Tube series Rare & Beautiful. Manon is a fabulous writer, jewelry aficionado, model (we have created some beautiful images with her in the past) and most of all very good friend of Ray’s. Their chemistry and love for jewels shines through in this fabulous conversation.
“Jewelry is something that takes a long time to get right. Integrating technical skills into one’s own sense of style and design occurs over time. Jewelry isn’t seasonal, it’s evolutionary.”— Ray Griffiths
In the rarified realm of design-driven, luxury jewelry, Australian-born; New York City-based designer/goldsmith Ray Griffiths is legendary for visionary design, superb quality gem materials and intrepid, master artisanship. At the end of the 20th century, Griffiths drew a winning number in the U.S. Green Card lottery made his new home in New York. While 2021 marks the 20th anniversary of the founding of Ray Griffiths Fine Jewelry, having trademarked the distinctive, chic and airy 18-karat gold jewelry genre of Crownwork® in 2014, Griffiths has long distinguished himself from other designers.
Having apprenticed in a high-end jewelry restoration house in his native Australia, Griffiths became fluent in the language of gold and precious metals as a teenager. “The more you learn about what can be done with gold to shape and form it, the easier it is to use your imagination to design with it and create beautiful jewels,” he reflects. His masterful grasp of gold’s unique characteristics and deep understanding of its myriad technical and artistic potentials distinguish Griffiths from mere jewelry designers, and many jewelers, for that matter.
Griffiths designs and fabricates everything from earrings to pendant necklaces, oversized yet lightweight link bracelets, wedding ring sets and high jewelry glittering with important diamonds or colored gemstones.
Situated in a sunlit studio on a lovely stretch of New York’s Fifth Avenue, Griffiths dreams up collections that are influenced by adornments from Regency and Edwardian eras as well as Moorish aesthetics and masterpieces from Roman and Greek antiquity. It’s also worth noting that Griffiths loves to create bespoke engagement and wedding jewelry, in addition to offering classic engagement rings and wedding bands.
Owing to his unparalleled restoration skills, Griffiths is renowned as a “jewelry whisperer” who takes weathered jewelry and restores it to its youthful structure, sensuality and shine.
The atelier of Ray Griffiths is a sunlit space that sits high above New York’s Fifth Avenue. Here, gold is worked and made into precious pieces stamped with the mark of Ray Griffiths Fine Jewelry. Likewise, this is also where Griffiths lovingly restores vintage and antique jewels. To some of his clients, Griffiths is a “jewelry whisperer” who takes weathered or damaged jewelry and restores it to its original shape, sensuality, sparkle and shine. “I like the time-traveling element of doing fine jewelry restoration,” Griffiths says. “It’s fun to imagine who these pieces may have belonged to previously, and where they might have traveled,” he says. “If only some of those jewels could talk to us!”
As gold has often been described by poets and alchemists as sunlight made solid, it is perfectly fitting that the picture-windowed space where Griffiths creates and restores golden jewels is bathed in golden light. Housing two jewelry benches, (one for Griffiths and one for the jeweler who assists him), the studio also contains a safe, the contents of which rival Aladdin’s Cave in terms of treasure. In addition to packets of diamonds, sapphires and other colored gemstones, there are of course 18-karat gold Crownwork® jewels, along with strands of pearls, turquoise and myriad of other gems. “It’s a privilege to be able to work with gemstones and make gold jewelry for people who appreciate the beauty of what I produce,” Griffiths says. “Gold came to our planet from meteorites that crash landed here one hundred million years ago, and gemstones are also precious pieces of eternity. Creating jewelry more than a career, it’s also an emotional process. I love seeing my clients light up when they wear my designs.”