For our annual pre–Gem Week issue, it’s only fitting that we feature a designer who’s as besotted with colored stones as we are. Aaron Furlong works natural wonders with vibrant spinel and paints wearable mosaics with multicolored sapphires. Not surprisingly, those happen to be Furlong’s favorite gems: “So many colors and great brilliance!” Look for Aaron Henry Designs at JCK Tucson, where Furlong will debut some shoulder-duster earrings, “one of which converts from one to three strands.” And be sure to gawk at the spinel and sapphires.
Number of years in the biz: 28
Number of employees you oversee: Five
Family and pets: My wife and I have two sons, Parker and Riley, one daughter, Katie, and a Portuguese water dog—R.B., named after the “Notorious RBG” [Ruth Bader Ginsburg].
Describe your personal style: Understated.
First piece you ever designed: In college I would make bead necklaces for friends based on music I was into at the time.
The single piece of jewelry you’re most proud of: The five-row reversible sapphire bracelet with a green-blue-violet fade on one side and pink-red-orange-yellow fade on the other. It has 135 small links and drapes like fabric.
Best piece of advice you ever received: “The only way to fail is to give up.”
Worst piece of advice: “You should have your jewelry made overseas; it would be cheaper.”
First job ever: In high school, I was a gift wrapper for Gump’s during the holidays.
How did you get started designing jewelry? I apprenticed with a master jeweler for nine years and started to work out some ideas on the side with my father that eventually developed into our first collection, Celebration.
If you weren’t designing jewelry, what would you be doing? Ski patroller: I spent five years on ski patrol at a local mountain; it was incredibly rewarding and fun. I love being outdoors.
Jewelry you’re wearing right now: Four Stacking Branch rings, representing my wife and three kids.
Items on your desk right now: Headphones so I can listen to music and podcasts while I work, pictures of my kids, tickets to upcoming L.A. Kings hockey games, and a box full of waxes and silver models I keep playing around with.
Songs on your playlist: “Impossible,” Anberlin; “Ain’t Nothing You Can Do,” Van Morrison; “My Body,” Young the Giant; “Honky Tonk Heroes,” Waylon Jennings; “Slippery People,” Talking Heads.
Exercise regimen: I swim with a masters group twice a week, run with friends twice a week, and try to get at least one bike ride each week as well.
What did you have for breakfast? Today was a strawberry croissant and a cappuccino. It’s usually some combination of pastry and coffee.
Guilty pleasure: My son got me hooked on Game of Thrones and I am just starting season 7. It’s a great way to spend time on a transatlantic flight.
Drink (daytime/evening): Beer/wine. Sometimes I reverse that depending on what I’m eating.
First website you check every day: Kitco for current gold pricing.
Scent: I love the desert after a rainstorm, night-blooming jasmine, the ocean, and a good pinot noir.
How do you unwind? Transcendental meditation and exercise.
Book you’re reading: The Age of Reason, Thomas Paine.
Book you’ve been meaning to get to: The Perfect Wave, Heinrich Päs.
Favorite movie: The Shawshank Redemption.
Who would play you in your life story? Ansel Elgort, I think, for the early years.
Personal motto: “The difference between an adventure and an ordeal is your attitude.”
Jewelry from top: Aaron Henry Designs’ spinel shoulder-duster earrings; five-row reversible sapphire bracelet; large Mosaic ring with ombré sapphires
(Ski scene: mbbirdy/e+/Getty; beer: hyrma/istock/Getty; Game of Thrones: courtesy HBO; The Shawshank Redemption: Mary Evans/Ronald Grant/Everett Collection)