Welcome to “From the Bench” from Max’s! We like to tell stories here at Max’s — in particular, the stories of the artists whose work we represent. From creative inspiration to the “back story” of what a particular artist did before s/he started designing jewelry, we believe that knowing more about an artist can deepen the appreciation for a particular design aesthetic and make an item as much (or more) of a piece of art as it is a wearable item. Jewelry is all about personal adornment — how we feel about ourselves and what our personal style is (avant-garde, fun and funky, tailored and classic) — and, after all, you’re buying the jewelry to help tell your story to the world, right?
Rather than us always telling the story, we’ve decided that once in a while we’ll use our blog to let our designers tell you their story directly “From the Bench”. With our trunk show featuring the work of Todd Reed happening this weekend, we thought it appropriate to launch this type of post with the following Q&A and video from Todd — where you can hear more about his design inspiration and approach to jewelry.
What role does emotion play in your design? My jewelry can be emotional. A little sad even. There’s a layer that’s wrought with a little bit of angst. And I don’t try to take that away, that’s the privilege of being an artist, you can put a little bit of yourself in it.
What is your favorite gem to work with? Why? I love any raw material including raw coloured gems and my first pieces were designed with raw rubies and emeralds. I focus on diamonds because they offer the most exquisite beauty, variety and luxury for my designs.
What practices do you employ to ensure your designs are created with ethically- and responsibly-sourced gems and metals? We work with a great company called Hoover and Strong, a refiner and manufacturer that has been providing socially and environmentally-responsible products for more than 95 years. We send them our scraps and get usable pieces of metal in return. All of the metals we use, Palladium, 18ky Gold, 18ky Rose Gold and Sterling silver, can be and are easily recycled. My primary procurement method for stones is opportunistic buying, that is seeking upcycled and recycled stones that come from Australia, Africa, India, Colorado, Brazil, Russia and all around the world.
What inspired you to begin designing jewelry? I got into jewelry design through a job stitching leather clothes. Craft couture, the clothes and handbags were very popular and we expanded into silver components for the pieces. This was the entree into designing and learning how to fabricate gold, silver and gemstone jewelry. The inspiration came from trying to communicate with objects in an authentic way.
When choosing gems for your work, what do you look for? Unique stones that grab me.
What inspires your approach to design? Everyday life.
Who is your muse? I don’t have a muse. I see beauty in everything. I’m not designing for one specific person.
Do you follow trends in jewelry design? I am aware of them and I pay attention to fashion, but I am not influenced by trends.
How had the jewelry industry changed since you got into the business? When I first got into the industry I was the only one using raw stones and textured metals. So much has changed because of the Internet and eCommerce as well.
Where do you see the industry going in the future? I see it shrinking. Great brands will rise to the top, the consumer will dictate and demand quality as well as a unique buying experience. Brands will surpass designers.
How do current events influence your work? They don’t. I’m totally uninfluenced by social reality.
What is something people would be surprised to learn about you? Most of my time is spent thinking about how to have the best jewelry brand.
What talent do you have that would surprise people? I’m great at painting nails.