JCK Asks…Todd Reed



The designer who loves diamonds in the buff

Todd Reed is having an affair…an 18-year “love affair with raw diamonds in all their magnificent shapes and colors,” as he puts it. And it only seems to be getting more intense. “I am always wanting to use the rough diamonds I have collected over the years,” says the Boulder, Colo.–based Reed, a self-taught metalsmith renowned for his eco-chic contemporary gold designs. “What I buy now is cleaner and more rare than what I could afford when I started buying.” You can find Reed in the Design Center at JCK Las Vegas; we found him on a beach in Hawaii. (Alas, not literally.)

Age: 38

Number of years in the biz: 20

Reed’s Buddhas

Number of employees you oversee: 18

Family/pets: I have a fabulous wife, Eva, and the most amazing 9-year-old daughter named Flora.

Describe your personal style: My style is very clean, neat, organized, but with an organic edge. Simple, with quality and unique material choices.

First piece you ever designed: My first piece was mixed stones that made up the southwestern Kokopelli figure—polished silver forged with cool stones, including tiger’s eye, garnet, ruby, and jade. These pieces were figurative and mostly brooches.

Reed’s shell-shaped diamond cuff

The single piece of jewelry you’re most proud of: A gold and raw diamond shell-formed cuff bracelet. It was too big to wear, but super cool and beautiful.

Favorite type of raw diamond: I love diamonds with character! The true oddballs. I have these little smooth diamonds that are shaped like Buddhas.

Favorite non-diamond gemstone: I have many stones that I love, but I have a weakness for aquamarine and gem silica chrysocolla.

Best piece of advice you ever received: “Keep it simple, stupid.”

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Worst piece of advice: “Just fill the bag with oregano. They will never notice.”

First job ever: Bagging groceries at a supermarket

How did you get started designing jewelry? I started making and designing jewelry while working as a leather­smith. I started with buttons and buckles in silver.

If you weren’t designing jewelry, what would you be doing? I would be designing something else. Maybe homes, furniture—beautiful and functional or nonfunctional things.

Most memorable/spectacular piece you’ve ever made: I have made many spectacular pieces; they are all special and all memorable. One in particular was a 20-plus carat green diamond octahedron.

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Jewelry you’re wearing right now: I am sitting on the beach in Hawaii, wearing only a pair of surf shorts and diamond cube necklace.

Five items on your desk right now: A pile of geodes, unopened mail, pen and paper, laptop, many objects of art that inspire me.

Five songs on your playlist: For my birthday this year, my staff gave me the gift of music. I am not sure of the names, but I have like 500 new songs that are all cooler than the Neil Young and Bob Marley I have been listening to for the last 20 years.

Exercise regimen: I hope to get one of these. I understand this is the mark of all successful entrepreneurs.I purchased P90X last year, and think of running often.

What did you have for breakfast? Ham and cheese omelet. This is vacation food.

Guilty pleasure: Soy Bhakti chai

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Drink (daytime/evening): Ginger ale

First website you check every day (not your own!): Kitco (boring, I know)

Scent: Pine, orange blossom

How do you unwind? By making art or riding my motorcycle

Superstitious? Definitely. I believe in most everything.

Main means of transportation: Bicycle in town; my station wagon for longer, more comfortable rides.

Favorite movie: I am not that into movies. I ­remember as a teenager, though, making some great ones. My favorite was the film Dancers Anonymous, where I starred as a dance-addicted dropout.

Who would play you in your life story? Johnny Depp, I think—for obvious reasons.

Personal motto: Just do it! But do it accurately, timely, and without wasting resources. Visualize the end result clearly before I start.