A Visit With a Jeweler Who Lives In Brooklyn
Encouraged by Jane, who’s been a fan of Brooklyn-based jewelry line Digby & Iona for many years, and by Digby & Iona’s publicity person, who emailed, and because Aaron Ruff, the man who makes Digby & Iona jewelry is … not unattractive (I know! I know, it’s not important, but I somehow feel like I’d be remiss not to mention it), I took a trip to the Digby & Iona jewelry-making studio/headquarters, which also happens to be a block and a half from my home.
It’s on the second floor of a rambly Cobble Hill warehouse-type building, and it (pictured, with Aaron) is a smallish, brick-and-wood room packed with antique books, old jewelry, and bits of metal. Riiight to the right of this photograph (which was generously provided by D&I PR) is a big open window overflowing with beautifully bright green plants that I should have taken a picture of, but something happened when I saw all the old cabinets and tiny drawers filled with jewelry (templates, inspiration pieces), and I kind of fell apart.
(Also, a couple blocks’ worth of slow walking is apparently more than enough time/distance to work up a drenching sweat, which flowed freely from my face as soon as I sat down in this charming jewel box to talk to this very handsome and together man about the wonderful things he makes. Normally I’d have tried to wipe it away, but he kept handing me lovely ring after lovely ring after freaky bracelet, and I didn’t want to get my sweat on any of it. So I was just dripping into/onto my clothes. If you order something from there that I touched, I am sorry!)
Aaron is 31, comes from Maine, used to make furniture, and now makes this jewelry full-time. His work draws from history and fictionalized history — check out his War of 1812 collection and his Wanderer in a Sea of Fog trifecta — and is an interesting, metal-heavy mix of feminine and masculine (with a light dusting of Brooklyn trendiness). It’s also affordable, with most non-gem pieces costing between $50 and $300.
New to the world of Digby & Iona is a sweet line of wedding and engagement rings, called the Inigo & Atreyu collection (“I like to think of it as something Buttercup would wear in The Pricess Bride,” he says of this one), which go for between $1,000 and $3,000.
This is them, and they are gorgeous (clearer pictures can be found here and here — I think I got too excited to notice that I was taking horrible photographs). Putting these rings on and then staring down at them as they twinkled was … ahhh. It was distracting. (What is it about jewelry? What is it about Monica McLaughlin’s estate jewelry column that causes otherwise non-sparkle-seeking minds to become unexpectedly unhinged?) Anyway, the rings are subtle but splendid. They’re a bit more expensive than his other pieces, but that’s largely because of the gems, most of which are lightly colored diamonds from India that he’s “been squirreling away” for months, for this very purpose.
I just kept staring at my hands. (And sweating.)
And then I bought this ring — which, incidentally, is on sale. I feel like a new woman. I think I am, in fact, a new woman.
An oval-cut cocktail ring with a bronze band and a gunmetal-coated bronze “jewel.”
You can order anything from Digby & Iona’s website.
[Three weeks pass] I have worn the ring every day, and every day it keeps getting better. There should probably be a disclaimer somewhere in here, but I’m not sure where it should be or what it should say.