Situated above a Brooklyn art gallery, in a space shared by artists of varying mediums, Aaron Ruff’s single room looked more like a museum at first glance than a jewelry studio. The creator of Digby & Iona and his four-legged friend, Nuki, took me in for the morning to chat about the creation of his new collection, how the price of commodities has impacted his business and how history plays a role in keeping him inspired.
Where do you find inspiration within this space?
I’m a big collector, so the entire space is inspiration. I’m constantly rearranging and dragging in new stuff, so the space is constantly evolving.
What was the toughest lesson you learned as a young designer starting a business?
It’s embarrassing to say, but just the basics of running a legit business were the hardest skills to master. Terms like W9 or EIN still make my head spin a little.
Does down time fit into a day in the studio?
Does Pinterest count as downtime? We think so!
What advice would you offer yourself 5 years ago?
Invest in silver! This is my main material and it has gone crazy in the last 5 years. Then it was $13 an ounce and earlier this year it was almost $40. I definitely miss the days when I could cast absurdly huge pieces in silver without blinking and eye. It’s changed the way I design quite a bit, I don’t want to have to raise my prices significantly so I have to be a lot more conscious about designing lighter pieces.
How and when do you decide to celebrate a victory?
I’m my own toughest critic, so celebration requires a pretty massive win.
What quote keeps you motivated?
I use historical quotes in my work quite a lot, most recently, ‘Don’t give up the ship’ which is a quote from Lee Hazard Perry during the War of 1812 (also the name of the collection). It’s pretty self-explanatory; it’s my version of the ‘hang in there’ kitten poster.
How do you recharge your creativity?
Travel as much as possible.
What are some new skills you are trying to acquire to perfect your craft?
I’ve just come out with an engagement band collection, so I’ve had a recent crash course on diamonds and precious gems.
Aaron will be a judge in our Jewelry Design Challenge. Call for entries ends July 12th.