JCK Asks…John Atencio

john atencio blue topaz diamond venture pendant
John Atencio London blue topaz, diamond, and 14k white gold Venture pendant

The Colorado designer’s jewelry (and art) will leave you on a Rocky Mountain high

If you live in Denver and you see a salt-and-pepper–haired gent breeze by on a chrysoprase-green bicycle, wave hello to John Atencio. You’ll often find the designer riding around the Mile High City; he has five retail stores in the area, including one on historic Larimer Square (plus two more in Fort Collins and Boulder, Colo.), where he sells not only his diamond and gemstone jewelry but also his original artwork. At ­LUXURY, he’ll be debuting his Gemini Pavé collection, which he describes as “pear-shape pavé facing pear-shape color.” At press time, ­Atencio didn’t yet have photos of the new pieces, so he dashed off a drawing. Always the artist!


john atencio gemini pave sketch
An artistic rendering of the new Gemini Pavé collection

Age: 68

Number of years in the biz: 42

Number of employees you oversee: 35

Family and pets: I work with my younger son. My oldest son is a Hollywood director-producer.

Describe your personal style: Fit, young at heart, love my line of work.

First piece you ever designed: A silver ring for my girlfriend—made at night at a free Colorado State University class.

The single piece of jewelry you’re most proud of: Usually my most recent piece. I’m happiest with all, especially the last.

Best piece of advice you ever received: “As you waste your breath complaining about life, someone out there is breathing their last. Appreciate what you have.”

john atencio originate diamond and yellow gold cuff
Originate diamond cuff in 14k yellow gold

First job ever: Paperboy.

How did you get started designing jewelry? I took a free university night class. I made one ring and never stopped.

If you weren’t designing jewelry, what would you be doing? Definitely something with my hands, in art, like painting.

john atencio minds eye painting
Atencio’s Mind’s Eye painting

How did you get started painting? I took a trip around the world and on my return, I started painting. I was searching for Michelangelo.

Jewelry you’re wearing right now: Stackable bracelets—two leather bracelets, one solid gold cuff—and a JA Pantheon watch.

Five items on your desk right now: A picture of my grandson, a spiritual candle, pens for coloring designs, an iPad, and roses.

the weekndFive songs on your playlist: “Starboy,” The Weeknd ­[pictured] feat. Daft Punk; “Diving With Whales,” Nora en Pure; ­“Nobody Like You,” Kaskade; “Ocean Drive,” Duke Dumont; “Cruise,” Kygo feat. Andrew Jackson.

Exercise regimen: Avid cyclist. Every day. Throughout the week—basketball, weights, and daily stretching.

oatmeal with fruitcuervo tradicional tequila reposadoWhat did you have for breakfast? Either eggs with green chiles or oatmeal with fruit.

Guilty pleasure: Great wine and great tequila.

Drink (daytime/evening): Wine in the evening.

How do you unwind? Taking off on a 20- to 30-mile bike ride or painting.

gladiatorBook you’re reading: A Year of Living Consciously, by Gay Hendricks.

tom hanksBook you’ve been meaning to get to: The Bible.

Favorite movie: Gladiator [pictured].

Who would play you in your life story? Tom Hanks [pictured].

Personal motto: “Never give up. Always be ready for change.”

(Artwork: © John Atencio; The Weeknd: Michael Tran/FilmMagic; Hanks: Daniel Leal-Olivas/AFP/Getty; Gladiator: © DreamWorks/Courtesy Everett Collection; oatmeal: samael334/istock/Getty)

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