Ray Griffiths ?of Ray Griffiths Fine Jewelry has spent more than 30 years crafting fine jewelry good enough for royalty—literally. The designer moved to the United States in 1997, after spending 18 years designing and repairing estate pieces for ROX Gems and Jewellery in Sydney. He left Australia to grow his business—“Sydney was high school, New York was university,” he says—and worked in retail, shared studio space, and kept reinvesting sales back into the business until he could support himself as a full-time designer.
Griffiths designs and manufacturers all pieces in his New York City studio with one goldsmith and an office manager for support, as well as creating custom gemstone cuts like elongated ovals that are 28 mm long and 8 mm wide.
“The originals are all fabricated by hand and kept as masters, and we cast from there,” says Griffiths of his mainly 18k gold creations in rose or yellow hues, and white gold mixes featuring palladium and some oxidized silver accents.
Learn more about him in the Q & A below.
Jewelry designer Ray Griffiths
JCK: Describe the signature style of your work.
Ray Griffiths: The motive in my jewelry is crown work, which goes back to my training in the restoration of antique jewelry in a very old jewelry house in my hometown of Melbourne, Australia.
JCK: How did you get into jewelry design, and what is your training and education??
RG: My father was a shoemaker, so I grew up working with him making shoes. But when I was a kid, I always said I wanted to be a jeweler, so when I was old enough my dad called in a favor with one of his old Army buddies who ran the best jewelry restoration house—Dunklings—in the country. I started an apprenticeship with a master jeweler which lasted five years, and during this time I also went to jewelry school at Collingwood Technical College in Melbourne. The next big step in my career was being head jeweler and designer for ROX (Sydney’s premiere jewelry boutique); I was there for 18 years during which time I also got my degrees on gemology and diamond technology. Then I moved to New York in 1997 and started my own design house.
JCK: What stones do you work with and why?
RG: Most of my stones are quartz or topaz because I get great coloration and I can have them cut to my specifics. I also buy a certain amount of one-of-a-kind semiprecious stones including Brazilian tourmaline, zircon, turquoise, chrysoprase, and sapphire. ? ??
JCK: How many accounts do you have?
RG: I have 30 ?in the U.S. and many collectors abroad—I’m Australian, and have traveled a lot in my life. But most of my business is here in the U.S.? ??
JCK: What jewelry shows do you exhibit in?
RG: The Jewelers of America Summer and Winter shows, Couture, and GlobalDESIGN in Philadelphia during the Buyer’s Market of American Craft. ? ??
JCK: What is the starting retail price of your work?? ?
RG: Our best-selling earring is a pair of 12 mm round single stones set in a crown-work bezel setting for $1,950. We have sold a lot of them—250 pairs since 2005.