With Every Piece, There's a Story - Michael Raymond
How did you get into jewelry design?
I was born into it. My father was a jeweler in Miami, and some of my earliest memories were spent on my father’s workbench watching him design different pieces. When my father passed away in 2005 I inherited his tools, and decided to switch gears from playing in different bands to designing jewelry… just like my father.
As a jewelry designer, what are your major influences?
I’d say my biggest influences are the different memories that I have. For example, I’ve made different rings from my some of my favorite Star Wars characters. Also, my favorite sport growing up was skateboarding. Many of my pieces are inspired by my love of skateboarding and its culture. The reality is that there are so many things that interest me. I think that’s one of the most beautiful things about being an artist. You are influenced and inspired by so many things. The shapes of animals, rare coins, ironic images, pop culture, music, I could go on and on, but you catch my drift. This is all reflected in my work.
For you, what is the purpose of jewelry?
Jewelry could easily be seen as an extension of you. From an engagement ring that reflects the love you share with your mate, to a memorial piece that can symbolize the passing of a loved one, it’s all created to give you something to attach yourself to. To look at the piece and feel something that reminds you of the moment that inspired you to buy it in the first place. And, of course, there can be more the simplistic approach in that something simply looks cool, and you want to wear it.
What is your design philosophy?
That’s an interesting question. I feel like every designer has their own approach. For example, my father was very mechanical and straightforward; his lines were very straight and almost looked machine-like. For me, I like to take things that weren’t originally meant to be jewelry and I’ll manipulate them into things like rings, necklaces, and bracelets. My workflow is very much like painting, I go through it and get it done, but you can still see the path. It’s not sloppy and it’s not incomplete, but it looks like it was made by hand.
Tell us about your LA X MR collection with Lizzie Armanto?
Yes, we are very proud of this collaboration for many reasons. One of which, is that I’ve always been a fan of hers. Lizzie is one of the top female skaters in the world and a pioneer in this space. Not only is she the face of Vans Girls, but she is the only female skater on the historic Birdhouse team which was founded by the legendary Tony Hawk. So, when Lizzie and I decided to work together I wanted to create something that felt very organic to her and how she grew up. The LA X MR collection speaks to her personality and style. It’s a series of eclectic pieces that showcase our shared love of skateboarding, octopuses, and uncompromised beauty.
Tell us about your Cease and Desist Collection?
Cease & Desist is one long trip down memory lane. When I was a kid growing up in Miami, I like the rest of the world, was really into Star Wars. I remember feeling crazy excitement whenever I came across a new Star Wars figurine. Star Wars is one of those memories that never seems to grow stale. Here we are 40 years later still talking about those movies. And, here I am all of these years later creating rings from the same pieces that used to be scattered all over my mother’s kitchen.
The Rolex pieces are actual molds from some of my dad’s watches. And, the Gucci Puff pieces are a classic. Inspired by my love of hip-hop from the 80’s and the legends like Erik B & Rakim and Slick Rick who used to rock these links on YO MTV RAPS.
Do you have any favorites from this collection?
That’s kind of like asking a mother if she has a favorite child. It’s a very difficult question to answer as you love different pieces for different reasons. Every collection is special to me because I understand and value the origin of each piece.
What are you currently working on?
I’ve always seen Michael Raymond Jewelry as a launching pad for Michael Raymond Designs. And, what that means is that fashion is up next for me. My love of artisanal, avant-garde clothing and shoes runs pretty profoundly. Over the last year, I’ve been designing pants, wallets, t-shirt, key chains, etc, that will essentially be the next phase of Michael Raymond. Some of these pieces are already up for sale on my website, www.michaelraymonddesigns.com
What can we expect from Michael Raymond over the next few years?
Now that I’ve finally designed a majority of the collections and created what we feel is a solid infrastructure, it’s time for Michael Raymond Jewelry & Fashion to live in boutiques and department stores that cater to the type of customer that I design for: confident, unique individuals who enjoy wearing statement pieces. The trend is already headed in that direction as over the last couple of years interesting and fashionable public figures like Ashley Benson, Chloe Grace Moretz, Shiloh Fernandez, Yara Martinez, Luis Guzman, Kaylee DeFer, and Lizzie Armanto have all been photographed wearing Michael Raymond.