Taron Rueger

2nd Place – Emerging Jewelry Artist 22 Years of Age or Younger

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Taron Rueger is just getting into the jewelry design world, but he is already passionate about the materials, the processes, the culture of it, and the finished pieces of art he is creating. Taron is strongly influenced by music, as well as patterns found in nature and hidden beauty in the magic that is day-to-day life. You can see the harmony and balance in his piece, "Goya." This powerful piece is even more remarkable since Taron has only been making jewelry for two and a half years. Imagine what is to come!

About the winning piece:

What materials did you use in the winning piece?
Sterling, 18K gold, dark green tourmaline cut by John Dyer, diamonds, 24K inlay and blue sapphires.

What processes did you use?
The piece is all hand-fabricated out of sheet metal. Sawing techniques were used to create the form, as well as filing, soldering, sand paper and gravers. I then hand engraved, inlaid the 24K gold and set the stones after achieving the shape. I used the GRS pneumatic engraver for setting and engraving and, of course, a microscope.

What was the inspiration for the piece?
I am inspired by masculine and feminine forms in nature and combining these opposing elements, as well as by architecture, crystal formations, ancient symbols and patterns. Impossibly beautiful details which are hidden in daily life until you take a deeper look. That was the idea behind Goya.

How long did it take to make?
It took me about a month and a half of designing on and off as I built other projects and then a solid month of fabrication, constructing and finishing the piece.

What did you learn from the piece?
I learned a lot from this piece. I had never used gold inlay on a finished project before so that was a blast. I felt like the design was one of the better designs I had done. It really came together in a cohesive way. So I thought I would see what other people thought of it by entering the Saul Bell Design Award competition.

Do you think this piece will influence your work going forward?
Definitely. It was a step in a good direction. The way the curves work and interact with hard lines will probably be a part of my work going forward. And I really like its construction.

Does it reflect your current look/designs/brand?
It totally is one of the cleanest and best pieces in my current work. This piece is a good representation of feminine and masculine forms and patterns, which are a huge motif in my style.

What do you like most about the piece?
My favorite part about the piece is the way the silver, 24K and 18K gold work together.

About the Artist:

Where do you live? 
Lake George, Colorado.

Did you study jewelry?
Fabrication was all self-taught. For stone setting, engraving and granulation, I studied at various schools and venues.

When did you discover you loved making jewelry?
I discovered when I was about 19 years old that making jewelry truly was my passion. I discovered it through the whole underground art scene, as well as different painters who inspired me. People who were a part of the visionary art scene encouraged me to discover what I could do with metal.

How long have you been making jewelry?
I have been serious about it for about two and a half years

Do any of your other passions influence your work?
Music is a big influence, abstract music. I am inspired by painting. Nature is also a huge influence, since I live in the country. And the day-to-day beauty you can see wherever you are.

Who is your design/jewelry mentor?
A lot of my teachers and friends have helped me in so many ways. Different people at different times.

What other types of work have you done in your life?
I started off doing graphic design work and making/selling a lot of merchandise for live music events. I tried glass blowing. Then I discovered metalsmithing, and I have been with it full time ever since.

When are you most creative?
For designing, it is late night. For fabricating, I like to get up early and work through the day.

What is your company’s name?
Rueger Jewelry

How do you get the word out about your work?
Social media has been a huge new platform to get work in front of the consumer. And meeting people and participating in the Tucson Gem Show. Doing some other shows, my website.

What is your favorite material to work with?
18K gold, but I use a lot of silver as well.

What is your differentiator from other designers?
I think what makes me a little different is that I try to combine different elements that most people wouldn’t think of combining. The curves with hard lines, the metals, the statement style of pieces. When it all comes together, it is pleasing to the eye.

What do you love about making jewelry?
Everything! The patience it teaches you. Meditative qualities. The designing part is a dream come true to express yourself.

Describe the first piece of jewelry you made?
It had a raw tourmaline in it. It was not the best piece I have ever made, but I was super proud of it. And once I made it, I wanted to learn more.

Are you influenced by trends? If so what is one trend you relate to?
I do not like to keep up with trends, but I am influenced by the niche underground visionary jewelry scene and the art scene that is currently progressing.

What is the one thing you most love about your studio?
I really love my microscope.

What is the one thing you would change about your studio?
Right now it is in a spare bedroom. I would love a bigger space.

One word of advice you received when starting to make jewelry/run a business?
Take your time. Just find what you like and enjoy in the medium and work within that.

What one word of advice would you give beginning designers?
Draw a lot! It is a big thing!

What work inspires you?
Music is a big thing. Tipper and his electronic music is an inspiration. Visionary and abstract artists such as Mars One.

What achievement in your jewelry life are you most proud of?
Just being able to make jewelry and make it my job is the biggest thing I am most proud of. And of course this award.

What jeweler would you most like to have dinner with or visit their studio?
Faberge. I would love to see how his pieces are made!

About the Saul Bell Design Award:

What did you feel when you found out you were a winner?
I was super excited. I was really curious once I found out I was a finalist to see if I would place. I was so excited to be a part of it.

Interview by Marlene Richey