More than a decade ago, when jewelry designer Todd Reed created the raw-gems aesthetic in jewelry design, he was the only one designing with rough, uncut diamonds. Today, the raw look is one of the most important looks in jewelry design. Reed’s jewelry designs, however, remain unique.
“Mostly what I do with raw diamonds is to enhance the beauty in what is often taken for granted,” says Reed. “To make the ordinary special simply by seeing it as beautiful. This is really a bit like nature; you swoon at a sunset although it’s really quite an ordinary experience in nature."
Reed met his calling when, during family vacation in Bisbee, Arizona, he saw a working silversmith and “it forever changed the way I viewed design and my life,” he says. “I watched in awe as this man turned sheet metal into body adornment in what seemed to be a very short time.”
After designing furniture, clothing, leatherwork, sculpture and painting, and graduating with honors from culinary school, Reed became good friends with a well-known diamond collector. “He completely took me under his wing. His love for diamonds was infectious, and he showed me the artistry and miniature sculpture that appeared in the rough stones,” says Reed. “I was riveted and wanted to know and see more. I realized that my aesthetic was to create jewelry that would push the boundaries of what precious pieces could be, and to merge the freedom of artistic expression with the allure of fine jewelry.”
Nature has long been Reed’s muse. “I’m a bit abstract about how I look at or through nature,” he says. “I like the subtle aspects like shadows and textures. The experience is an emotion, energy. So I like to simply be an observer in nature and make things that are influenced by emotion.”
His latest collections explore even further the exquisiteness of nature around us. One collection, Autumn, celebrates beads of water on leaves, another, called Bort, is based on using one-of-a-kind rough diamonds wrapped in a gold and diamond sleeve. All of Todd Reed’s pieces are hand fabricated and finished in 18k gold, palladium, platinum, and silver. The gold he uses is recycled, either by reusing clients’ gold or Harmony Metals, 100% recycled metals, from Hoover and Strong.
Raw gems are not Reed’s only materials of choice. Many of his pieces contain other, fine gemstones. “I really love to use many materials,” he says. “I love color, and adore many large choice specimens of garnet, tourmaline, sapphire and opal. Typically, these pieces would require a special order.” He also works with polished diamonds, including rose and brilliant cut gems.
In 2010, when Todd outgrew his industrial design/distribution space, in Boulder, Colorado, where he is based, he built a retail showroom and studio space on Boulder's Pearl Street. Because Todd's design aesthetic extends to every area of his life, from the home he built to the bikes he rides, his work space is also a dramatic statement of his design vision.
When asked whether he is pleased or annoyed that so many other designers are now working with his signature element – raw gems – he answers, “I’m both pleased and annoyed; pleased that designers are exploring new materials to fit the needs of customers, but not so happy about the artist/designer that devalues the material or the brand that I’ve created.”
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