“I would describe myself as a Jeweler, but if I was asked the same question at a party I would say I’m a goldsmith. People tend to be confused by the term Jeweler. I design and produce a line of jewelry ranging from silver pieces to high end custom diamond rings.”
Q&A with Aaron Ruff:
Tell me a little bit about yourself, who you are, and where you are from.
I grew up in rural Maine and came to NYC at 18 to attend design school for furniture design and never left the city.
Please describe Digby and Iona and your vision for founding it.
In the beginning I was simply recreating and interpreting the antique pieces I saw that were either locked away in a museum or were well out of my price range. This evolved over the years into the main mission of the company which is to create heirloom quality work that is stylish today but will also (hopefully) appeal to future generations.
How did you get to where you are today? What has been your career path?
I’ve been slowly scaling down the size of my work since I was a teenager. I began as a carpenter building houses in Maine, then as furniture maker in NYC and finally moved onto jewelry. In my opinion it’s all the same process and creative influence just at different scales.
What are a few of your favorite pieces you’ve created?
The answer to this changes weekly, it’s always a few of my most recent projects. As of today it’s a custom engagement band with a 2 carat champagne color rose cut diamond and signet ring based off Pennsylvania Dutch iconography.
What are you currently working on?
I’m currently developing my next stock collection based off Alchemy and Hermeticism as well as a new range of high end diamond rings.
When are you most creative?
I generally get my best ideas after hours in the studio when I can let my mind wander.
Have you had any failures that you’ve learned from that have led to great success?
Too many to count, but they all got to where I am today. The business side of the company was a constant struggle for me the first few years.
What is your creative process for conceptualizing and starting to work on a new project?
It’s pretty unorthodox and intuitive, I generally just start with an initial spark of an idea and it snowballs into an entire collection. Drawing has never been my strong suit so I do very minimal sketching beforehand and usually start carving in wax or silver straightaway.
How do you get new clients?
The internet is a wonderous place, as long as I keep producing new work (and updating my Instagram feed) it all happens organically.
Where do you get inspiration?
My inspiration comes from so many places. My design process is pretty frenetic, so I’m pulling from a huge well. I will say that when I start a new collection I do a huge amount of research which shapes the concept for the collection but the details can come from anywhere.
How do you define success?
If my company continues to grow, and I’m still able to do this in 10 years, I would consider that a great success.
What is the best advice you’ve ever received in general, or about how to be more creative?
Recently someone told me I should be building little houses for the diamonds in my engagement rings, it seems small but that’s changed my outlook on how I design that kind of jewelry tremendously.
To visit the Digby and Iona website and see Aaron’s Jewelry, go to www.digbyandiona.com