Sapphires are an excellent choice for an alternative engagement ring because their hardness and durability, meaning the stone—like our love—will last a lifetime 🙂 Of course, that’s no excuse to be reckless with the most important piece of jewelry in your life!
This is a guest blog post written by Matilda Moore – Digital Content Creator for Ray Griffiths Fine Jewlery.
Memorial Day 2023 will mark ten years since my husband proposed to me on the dock of Lake Henry, PA!
Ten years of wearing my amazing (looks brand new) 18k yellow gold claw set blue sapphire ring with pave diamond surround. Ray sourced the perfect sapphire from Sri Lanka and set the stone in his signature crownwork® collet allowing its beauty to shine through and the pave diamond surround gives it that sense of tradition. To say I love it would be an understatement.
Click here to see my ring hot off the jewelry bench.
I’ve always been drawn to blue sapphires as I am a bit of a royalist. Blue Sapphires are a favorite gemstone of the British Royal Family. It has been used to represent love and holds much sentiment many in the royal family. Sapphires have adorned many royal crowns, gowns, jewelry and robes for as long as I can remember.
Click here to learn more about Sapphires – the Stone of Royalty.
Sapphires have been known to symbolize wisdom, nobility, truth, sincerity, and faithfulness–a meaningful combination for an engagement ring. It’s this type of romantic connotation that has persevered into modern times. The blue color of sapphires symbolizes loyalty, trust, and sincerity. Today, sapphire engagement rings are as popular as ever and make a timeless choice when making an engagement. This ring style is also available in different stones, here are examples of the ring with a gorgeous claw set yellow sapphire, juicy Cambodian zircon in a bezel setting and claw set green tourmaline.
Jewelry is Rays love language– Click here to set up a consultation with Ray and discuss your own love story!
I love a bit of color all year round but when Spring arrives you start to see it popping up all around you –in nature, on restaurant menus and back into peoples style!
Spring is all about new beginnings and transformations; it’s a season that symbolizes starting fresh and starting over. After months of cold temperatures that often result in many of us feeling the winter blues, spring reawakens us and our surrounding environment, bringing everything back to life.
Spring is conveniently just after the world renowned Tuscon Gem, Mineral and Fossil Showcase and it’s my annual opportunity to stock up on colorful, rare and enchanting gems. I’ve been attending the showcase for over 30 years and it’s one of my favorite times of year to catch up with the dealers as well as other jewelers to share our finds. It’s like a time portal, a trip around the world, and a treasure hunt all rolled into one!
Lately I’ve been drawn to the organic, raw beauty of certain stones, I just love the rich natural color. This Spring my earring collection has some stunning carved pieces such as carnelian, chalcedony as well as some interesting shapes in varying colors of agate.
Another favorite that comes with Spring is the longer, warmer days and evenings which makes it enjoyable to wander, explore and get inspiration from the city around me. The city is quite literally blooming from the cherry blossoms in the Brooklyn Botanic Gardens, the Orchid Show at the New York Botanic Gardens and the new seasonal produce at the Farmers Markets. Everything around me is an opportunity to get the creative juices flowing!
On my way to the gem show all I could think about was big juicy stones and color for spring after what had felt like a long drab winter so color excited me.
As the warmth of the Tucson sun thawed me out I just ran to the color at every place I saw it so we purchased Melee (small calibrated sizes) in lots of color and when I returned to New York I spread out the stones all over the white bench tops in my studio and moved things around like a gemmy puzzle around until I got colors that pop to me.
Whilst was doing this I felt an urge for classic ring forms to pair with the warmth of the color combined, my normal east west designs I use (and love) gave way to a feeling of north south rings and the drawing of the ring started. I love the way these ring hug and elongate the finger whilst giving a fabulous pop of color.
It is best to arrange dried flowers in groups, rather than individually by the stem.
Start with your largest bunch of flowers. This dried babies breath is perfect for holding all the other flowers and grasses in place. I cut the stem accordingly and placed it directly inside my vase.
Next, add another grouping of large flowers. I kept the eucalyptus stems together and tucked them into the dried babies breath branches.
Add the rest of your dried flowers to the arrangement. I placed the pampas grass stems on one side and allowed them to sort of cascade down. I added a few stems of the bunny tails and white nigella to the front of the arrangement and places where I felt the bouquet needed some texture and interest.
Pro tip spray your pampas grass with hairspray to prevent shedding.
Big thanks to Modern Glam for the tips on the perfect arrangement
” There are no rules here! You can also add some fresh flowers (orchids, hydrangea or dahlias) and rotate them out seasonally with anything you find at the market”
This is one of my all time jewelry stone setting techniques. The term is derived from the french word PAVE, which literally means “to pave”. The inspiration for this is the cobble stone streets of Europe.
Small stones are set across the metal in the piece which allows me to blanket the jewelry in color (something I love).
The pattern for the stones is worked out on the metal to hold the stones into place. I love setting the stones in oxidized silver, it gives a rich body of color and a powerful effect overall. Its an old jewelry technique that works well with my crownwork®.
Working with Pave is where I can play and have fun with the stones, I often sit at my bench with bags of small stones I have picked up in Tuscon and move them all around like puzzle pieces until I get the right combination.
The stones are set deeply into the oxidized silver so the jewelry is beautiful and durable. Click the video below for more of my thoughts on all things Pave.
I worked with enameling in my designs years ago and recently fell back in love with it.
Enameling has very strong historical design references, it has been used throughout jewelry history dating back to ancient times. Many cultures have been using enameling for thousands of years dating back to 1300 BC.
Making the enamel involves mixing flux and ground glass then melting it at a high temperature. It can be extremely difficult to work with and control, our enamelist has years of experience and is a highly skilled artisan. She uses multiple firings to build up the layers and create the bold, fun colors I love to work with.
Plique-a-jour enameling is hand painted onto the crownwork® in layers so that the color shines through the work.
Opaque enameling is baked into a channel built into the design.
Enameling brings a beautiful unblemished permanent color to my the jewels, it doesn’t soften over time and will look the same 100 years from now.
I love the vitreous sheen of the enamel in the jewelry juxtaposed with the polished stones.
A natural diamond is created by the heat and pressure in the earth’s core, they move their way up over millions of years to the earth’s surface – they are carbon molecules that become cubic minerals. A lab grown diamond is a near instantaneous modern version of the same thing. It has the same composition but it’s “in the image of” and doesn’t have the natural unique qualities that a natural diamond has.
Which do you recommend?
They both serve their purpose – I personally prefer natural diamonds. I have worked with them all my life and there is always something special about stones the earth has created. You should work with whatever stone speaks to you and that is within your budget. If you see a lab grown diamond that works for you, then that’s the one that was meant for you!
Will lab grown diamonds wear out or yellow over time or are they the same as natural diamonds?
They have the same chemical composition and they will go the distance, just like a natural diamond.
What is the prettiest cut in your opinion?
I love so many of them! Its always so hard to pick a favorite or the prettiest. If I had to choose one to work with today it would be a 3-4 carat cushion cut, it is elegant and timeless and will always retain its value.
How do I choose an ethical stone? I don’t know where to start
Canadian and Australian diamonds are ethical because of the way they’ve set up the mines. The most important thing is to be able to trace the source of origin, the certification of the stone will be able to tell you that. Having vintage diamonds recut is also a fabulous way to be kind to the earth and ethical at the same time.
Can you help me source a diamond for my engagement ring?
Absolutely! I studied diamond technology and know everything about the structure of diamonds. I have spent my life working with these gorgeous stones. Click here so we can start a conversation, I can work within all budgets.
Do you recommend ordering a diamond online? (Brilliant Earth, Blue Nile)
I think it’s better to go somewhere where you’re going to get an education on the stones – I like to get multiple stones for a client and then I give them a loupe to look at them each closely so I can explain each stone thoroughly. It’s educational, personal and helps you to connect to the stone.
What are some common misconceptions about diamonds?
People often look and adhere to the four C’s – color, cut, clarity, and carat when referencing diamonds. But sometimes you can find a really beautiful one that’s got a lower grade because of an inclusion, but that inclusion that lowered the grade could be right on the very side of the stone that with the right design you can barely see when its set. You can get more bang for your buck!
What are some fun facts about diamonds?
For me, I love that they are the hardest atomic structure on the planet. They are also the most simple atomic structure. Diamonds are cubic and the speed at which they transmit the light through the mineral is what makes them sparkle so much and that makes them beautiful. The speed of light makes them shine.
What are black diamonds?
Black diamonds are diamonds that nature exposed to other chemicals (graphite, pyrite or hematite) in their formation. They used to use black diamonds to produce the needles for record players! They wouldn’t get worn out after use.
Should I care about the fluorescence in a diamond?
I personally like fluorescence, it gives them a bit of a personality because under a black light it glows. I think it’s one of nature’s great tricks!
I have some diamonds in old heirloom jewelry. Can you pull these and make me something new?
Absolutely! Depending on their size and condition, it’s easy to reuse diamonds for many things. I love to work with clients to make the perfect new piece for them out of things they no longer wear or have inherited. I have shared a few of my favorite diamond transformations with you below.
This ring is the perfect blend of something old and something new. The clients’ grandmother gifted a 1 carat diamond earring each to he and his brother to use in rings for their future brides. Our client’s girlfriend had her heart set on an oval ring and we had a 1 carat round to work with. Ray stalked her social media to get a sense of her style and then designed this ring that features the family heirloom and blends that with her amazing style. The ring now has a name “Lady Di” and its own hashtag on Instagram.
The stone in the pendant came from our client’s grandmother’s ring and was surrounded by diamonds. She and her sister split all their grandmother’s jewelry and she brought the pieces she didn’t wear to us. We made a beautiful solitaire Crownwork® pendant and then a pair of stick earrings and circle earrings with the surrounding diamonds. We recycled the gold and incorporated that into all the pieces too. New life for family heirlooms!
This client had a big diamond ring she was no longer wearing, she wanted to use the diamonds for a versatile everyday piece. We pulled the diamonds from the ring and set them in an 18k yellow gold Crownwork® pendant in oxidized silver to make them really pop.
The client had a big pair of diamond earrings that she wasn’t wearing, she saw our 18k yellow gold Crownwork® pinky rings at a trunk show and fell in love.
We made her a pinky ring using one of the diamonds and set it with a black diamond halo for extra dramatic effect.
We have shared lots of custom & restoration stories and wedding stories, I love working on these projects.
Fun to design and fun to wear, when I am making pendants I like to take my time and really think them through. Matching the perfect stone(s) to the perfect setting. I sit at my desk with the settings and pull out my stones, its like a fabulous & sparkly puzzle.
Three of my latest favorite creations to pop out of my brain are all so different but could easily be worn together.
There are so many ways to wear pendants, they are the ultimate mix and match jewel. They are amazing on their own, stacked with some friends, layered together. So perfect to collect and treasure.
I always make my pieces on a detachable bail so they can be put on lots of different chains and played with in infinite ways, they can also be clipped onto your bracelets for the ultimate charm. That is a whole other story that you can read about here. Have fun and play with your jewels, I certainly have a lot of fun making them.
One of my favorite things to do every year is hit up the gem show in Tucson, the main show they have in Feb was cancelled but there was a smaller version last week that I went to. As well as finding beautiful stones to work with I am forever inspired by the incredible bounty mother nature provides.
These stunning stones are all snapped up by the museums, they look like something dropped into the earth by aliens.
The Dinosaur bones are breathtaking and always a highlight, the dealer sources them cleans them up and then reassembles them in steel frames to hold them all together. They are breathtaking and a real highlight to my trip every year.
The real reason I go is to find the stones that speak to me for new jewels, I really do run across rooms when something catches my eye. These are the gems I brought back with me and I can’t wait to start creating with them.
I found a whole slew of fabulous new beads to make bracelets and necklaces with.
On the left is Prehnite and the right is Aquamarine. The extra sparkle comes from Titanium coating.
On the left is Aragonite and the right is Natural Moss Aqua
Natural Moss Emerald
Natural Butterscotch Amber, all one of a kind beads.
I also found these amazing Sonoran Turquoise pieces, I love the combination of the blue and green together. So dreamy, it has a rich warm organic feel. I cant wait to make some gorgeous rings and pendants with these beauties.
This Petrified Wood is going to be cut into amazing drops for statement earrings.
This pink sapphire is the perfect example of a stone that just spoke to me, the color and the cut are so crisp and clean. Not sure what I am going to do with this beauty yet.
For me, Spring is a celebration of the rebirth of nature and I love watching all the trees and plants come to life and explode from the earth. It is the perfect time to break out the pastel jewel tones. I love the mottling colors and imperfections of the stones I am drawn to at this time of year.
The stones that I love to work with also have the properties and feel good factor that we all need as we move into this fresh new season. Opals bring love and peace; Chalcedony brings vitality and energy; Chrysoprase brings joy and abundance; Turquoise brings wisdom and balance & Coral is a beautiful organic gift from the ocean.
My early training and apprenticeship installed a love and respect for intricate design and workmanship, during my 20s I lived in London and began travelling the world and spending lots of time in museums soaking up as much history and culture as I could. During this time, I fell in love with the Ottoman Empire.
The Ottoman Empire was a 600-year state that controlled much of Southeastern Europe, Western Asia and Northern Africa between the 14th and 20th centuries, They were known for their achievements in art, science and medicine. Istanbul and other major cities throughout the empire were recognized as artistic hubs, especially during the reign of Suleiman the Magnificent. This produced beautiful and intricate architecture, the domed mosques are magnificent. They were also renowned for their jewelry making and carpet weaving.
When I finally went to Istanbul, I was struck by the beauty everywhere and inspired by their use of beautiful shapes in their architecture and incredible workmanship and structure.
I fell in love with Top Kapi Palace and it continues to inspire my work to this day.
I picked out some of my favorite pieces that were inspired by the Ottoman Empire.
18k Yellow Gold crownwork® pendant with pave diamond
18k Yellow Gold crownwork® domed disc pendant with pave sapphire center
18k Yellow Gold crownwork® pendant with pave orange sapphire and diamonds
18k Yellow Gold crownwork® egg earrings with pave tsavorite and tourmaline center stones
18k Yellow Gold crownwork® hand painted enamel earrings with pave diamond
18k Yellow Gold crownwork® red enamel earrings
18k Yellow Gold crownwork® rings with pave pink sapphire & color change garnet
18k Yellow Gold crownwork® multi sapphire one of a kind ring
Charm Bracelets really are the “choose your own adventure” of the jewelry world.
Charms date back to the prehistoric period when they were formed out of shells, clay and animal bones, then continued to develop into gems, rocks, metal and wood. Throughout all periods of history charms and talismans have been used as symbols of faith, luck, prosperity and to mark and celebrate achievements and occasions in life.
A beautiful link bracelet is a solid base for a charm bracelet, you want the bracelet to have some substance so it will support the charms as your collection grows and so it can still have some roll on your wrist. Crownwork® lends itself beautifully to large link bracelets as it keeps them nice and light on the wrist but weighty on the eye. Click here to see all of the fabulous bracelets that work perfectly with charms.
There are so many ways to start a collection of charms, you can choose those that have meaning to you (birthstones/anniversary stones), those that have a design that you fall in love with, those that are made with your favorite gemstones. We have pearl charms, tassel charms, coin charms, gold ball charms; the possibilities are endless. The most important thing to keep in mind is to balance the weight and style of the charms around your bracelet so they lie nicely around the wrist and feel comfortable.
Its impossible to pick favorites, click here to see our current collection of charms.
All of our charms are made with a hinged bale on the top so they are easy to interchange and play with (this also allows them to serve double duty as pendants on your favorite necklaces)
LOVE this all pearl charm bracelet we put together for a client a couple of years ago, so timeless and chic.
Working one on one with clients on their charm bracelet project is always so much fun, its like telling stories of events and travels throughout their lives through jewelry. Ray has been working with a client for a few years on her bracelet, every few months they add a new charm. The latest one is a green enamel “train track” he made to represent a train journey she went on through Ireland.
Repurposing old jewelry into charms is also a great way to breathe new life into pieces you no longer wear but have great sentimental value. Drop us a line if you have a fun project for us to work on together or would like to build out your perfect charm bracelet. We can book an appointment with Ray in the studio or over Zoom.
“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.”