Maker Stories

Inside the Designer’s Studio with Aaron Ruff

July 3, 2012

Situated above a Brooklyn art gallery, in a space shared by artists of varying mediums, Aaron Ruff’s single room looked more like a museum at first glance than a jewelry studio. The creator of Digby & Iona and his four-legged friend, Nuki, took me in for the morning to chat about the creation of his new collection, how the price of commodities has impacted his business and how history plays a role in keeping him inspired.

What are your most essential tools?
The hammer and the foredom.

Where do you find inspiration within this space?
I’m a big collector, so the entire space is inspiration. I’m constantly rearranging and dragging in new stuff, so the space is constantly evolving.

What was the toughest lesson you learned as a young designer starting a business?
It’s embarrassing to say, but just the basics of running a legit business were the hardest skills to master. Terms like W9 or EIN still make my head spin a little.

Does down time fit into a day in the studio?
Does Pinterest count as downtime? We think so!

What advice would you offer yourself 5 years ago?
Invest in silver! This is my main material and it has gone crazy in the last 5 years. Then it was $13 an ounce and earlier this year it was almost $40. I definitely miss the days when I could cast absurdly huge pieces in silver without blinking and eye. It’s changed the way I design quite a bit, I don’t want to have to raise my prices significantly so I have to be a lot more conscious about designing lighter pieces.

How do you set goals for yourself?
I’m terrible at meeting the deadlines I set for myself, so I generally set yearly goals and hope all goes to plan.

How and when do you decide to celebrate a victory?
I’m my own toughest critic, so celebration requires a pretty massive win.

What quote keeps you motivated?
I use historical quotes in my work quite a lot, most recently, ‘Don’t give up the ship’ which is a quote from Lee Hazard Perry during the War of 1812 (also the name of the collection). It’s pretty self-explanatory; it’s my version of the ‘hang in there’ kitten poster.

How do you recharge your creativity?
Travel as much as possible.

Where does collaboration come into play with your craft?
I generally collaborate with illustrators; my drawing skills are terrible, so I really enjoy turning 2d into 3d and vice versa.

What are some new skills you are trying to acquire to perfect your craft?
I’ve just come out with an engagement band collection, so I’ve had a recent crash course on diamonds and precious gems.

Aaron will be a judge in our Jewelry Design Challenge. Call for entries ends July 12th.


  • Reply Natalie m. July 9, 2012 at 6:24 pm

    Beautiful workshop! Thank you for making our wedding ring(stump ring) I have people pulling me aside to see it all the time!

  • Reply Inside the Artist's Studio - A 2012 Recap | UncommonGoods December 26, 2012 at 11:02 am

    […] short trip on the subway brought us to the Brooklyn space of Aaron Ruff, jewelry designer behind Digby & Iona, and his four-legged studiomate, […]

  • Reply Heather January 23, 2013 at 3:24 pm

    I would love to buy your stump ring for my husband for valentines day also together8 years that day. Your video said you have made 13 before ( for the lumber jack ) I wanted to let you know how meaningful this peice could become for our family. Please consider making a size 13 for us also. Thank you for your time.


  • Reply cassie January 24, 2013 at 1:08 pm

    Thanks for asking, Heather! We reached out to Aaron for you and he said that he’s happy to make the ring in size 13. Since we don’t usually offer the larger size, you won’t be able to select that option from our site. Instead, please email with your contact info (just let them know you are the customer who contacted us about the ring via the blog) and we’ll get back to you to help you set up the special order.

  • Reply sbobet how to July 26, 2013 at 3:05 am

    Pretty portion of content. I simply stumbled upon your site and in accession capital to say that I get in fact enjoyed account your blog posts. Any way I’ll be subscribing to your augment or even I success you get entry to consistently quickly.

  • Reply Ben R November 29, 2014 at 12:30 am

    Hi! I was interested in the necklace piece “when this you see remember me”. I looked and it was sold out completely? Are these being made anymore?



  • Reply Cassie December 1, 2014 at 4:09 pm

    Hi Ben,

    Thanks for checking out this post and Aaron’s work! Unfortunately, that piece is not available. Here’s the collection that we have available at the moment:


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