Imitation vs. Inspiration

Roughly a year ago, when I first started to get the idea that I might actually design for a living, I got the opportunity to speak with a renowned designer/jeweler. One of the first things I asked when I got the opportunity to ask him questions was what his inspiration was. I look back on that and laugh because it really was a fangirl type question to ask. He gave me some sort of benign answer about anything inspiring him, and I went on my merry way.

Now, over a year later, and feeling much wiser, I know that it’s a silly question, because I know that anything can inspire you – in fact, you never know what will inspire you until it hits.

Imitation

: the act of copying or imitating someone or something
: something that is made or produced as a copy

And

Inspiration

: something that makes someone want to do something or that gives someone an idea about what to do or create : a force or influence that inspires someone
: a person, place, experience, etc., that makes someone want to do or create something
: a good idea

In the jewelry world, there is really very little that is a new idea. Everything has been done before. So it’s hard to come up with new and fresh ideas.

It’s not that I don’t take inspiration from other items of jewelry, but it pains me to see an antique ring, and then later see almost an exact copy of the antique, with slightly changed elements. Why would you want to make a copy of someone else’s idea when you can make something completely different and new?

I like to borrow elements from other jewelry all of the time, and I combine them with other elements to create something that is entirely different and hopefully unique. I don’t want something that someone else has! Typically, the original is always the best anyway, so why make a copy? It’s rare that I see a copy and think it’s more beautiful than the original. Especially with antique pieces.

I have one upcoming setting that will be in my jewelry line, and I can think of 5 rings that either inspired me or  I borrowed an element from, to combine those elements into something new that I’d never really seen before. An antique, an Erika Winters design, a Leon Mege design, a David Klass design, and anyone who has ever made a ring with flower petals (which are a lot of designers, let me tell you). I sort of hope that someone digs up an antique version of what I’ve done because, in a way, it sort of validates that I had a good idea.

Here is a design I’ve been playing with for a while with some spinels for a North/South orientation. I doubt this will come to fruition, but it’s still fun to play with! Thanks to Lorraine Schwartz for the idea to try something that stretches along the finger length!

Ring 1, Ring 2, Ring 3 (there are more, but you get the idea!)

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A Month of Diamonds

I am an April baby. And…I don’t like diamonds.

But, because it’s my birthstone and because of the social importance imparted on us and the significance of diamonds, they have still managed to play a influential part in my life.

When I was thirteen, my mom gifted me with the tiniest diamond ring imaginable. If you’ve been following me on instagram, you might have seen it. I know nothing about the diamond besides the fact that it’s so small I have to check with magnification to see it and make sure it hasn’t popped out, and from what I can tell, it’s likely a single cut melee. I think it’s about 1mm in diameter, so when I say it’s small, I mean it! I wore that ring all of the time, in fact, I don’t remember when I stopped wearing it, but it was probably sometime when I was in high school when boys started giving me rings.

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Diamond birthstone ring from my mother for my 13th birthday.birthstone bling2

My second diamond ring was a gift from an old boyfriend. That ring also had tiny diamonds in it and was terribly 1980s-1990s and yellow gold. My third taste of diamonds came from another ex, another tiny diamond that had a huge carbon chunk in it from a mall jewelry store. They are both long gone now, but it’s probably a good thing – what do you even do with jewelry from exes?

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An antique diamond band from the 1930s. 

My mother had always had a couple diamond rings that belonged in her family, and I expected to inherit them someday. It wasn’t long after she was rediagnosed with breast cancer that she came to me and explained that she was sending them to who she felt was the rightful heir, since they couldn’t be evenly split among her many siblings (youngest of ten). So I found out that I wouldn’t be receiving those heirlooms a bit abruptly.

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Carre and single cut band inspired by Tiffany & Co.

And then, for my parent’s 27th wedding anniversary, I finally talked my dad into buying my mom a diamond, her first real diamond that would be hers, as my parents didn’t have the traditional engagement with a ring involved and my dad is not the jewelry buying type. We spent a series of a few days at a few different jewelers, looking at diamonds and really getting an idea of what she would like and what my dad wanted to get her. Marketing terminology won him over with a “princess”. He said as soon as he heard that it was called a “princess”, he had to have one for her. Unfortunately I totally failed when it came to the setting department, and put it in a boring stock solitaire.

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My mother’s princess cut diamond.

Now, if there is one thing you should know about me, it’s that I like to sleep. I’m a night owl, and the later I can sleep in, the better. I pestered my dad to tell me how he was going to give the ring to my mom, and he, while brilliant, is not terribly creative. He got up before her, and put the store bag next to her coffee pot. My parents got up at incredibly, stupidly early hours, so the sun wasn’t even close to coming up. I, a person who loves sleep, set my alarm to wake up BEFORE my parents so I could witness my mom receiving this gift we had put so much time into. And around 5am, I was greatly rewarded, skulking in the dark living room while my mom stumbled into the kitchen to start her coffee without even putting her glasses on. I remember the conversation as clear as if it were yesterday:

“David, what is this?”
“Why don’t you open it up and find out?”
…opens the bag, finds the box, opens it and…
“Holy shit…is that real?!”

Yes, it was. And I can probably count on one hand the times I heard my mom use a curse word.

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My mother’s anniversary present, reset into platinum. 

These few instances signify some of the more emotional ties I have had to diamonds specifically, even though I’ve never really had the love affair that most women seem to have with diamonds. I’ve always admired diamonds because they are sparkly, and goodness knows I love sparkly things, but diamonds never really felt like something I had to have.

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Antique Old Mine Cut diamond with a badly chipped girdle.

Until I found antique diamonds. And then I found fancy colored diamonds. Suddenly I found myself overwhelmed with the fact that I did like diamonds – I just had to find the right flavor! I’m planning on spending most of April talking about diamonds, but as per usual with me, just not your every day Modern Round Brilliants!

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Old European Cut diamonds set in my platinum Prive band.