Thursday, August 16, 2012


A Trip to Digby & Iona's Jewelry Studio

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.

74 Comments / Post A Comment

Reginal T. Squirge

Here it comes...


beautiful pieces this man makes.@a




Dang, that cocktail ring is available up to size 12, which is perfect for my fat little fingers. Gonna buy it!

sudden but inevitable betrayal

@backstagebethy Yay/oh no! It's so much easier to avoid dropping all my money on pretty rings when they don't come in my size.


I am a sucker for rings! I am currently in love with my little bird ring from Amandina, a local brand from my hometown. They make beautiful hip designs with an old technique. The ring I own is here: http://www.amandinajoyeria.com/view_prod.php?id=82 but I don't wear it everyday because I'm very afraid I'll lose it . But check them out! they sell to the US and they are so awesome.

Also, yes. Aaron is...not unattractive.


@Mariajoseh love that bird ring!


@backstagebethy thank you! I love that feeling of looking down and my hands and LOVING the ring. That's why jewlery is better than clothes, I never feel that happy about clothes.


This is the best personals ad on the entire internet, Aaron. Nice!


Edith! Design Sponge also visited Digby and Iona recently and they have your plant photos all set: What's in Your Toolbox Aaron Ruff?

On an unrelated note, I might spend too much time stalking brooklyn and silverlake designers/artists/jewelers through cyberspace.


@E I knew I recognized him from somewhere. I had my face smooshed up to my monitor yesterday to inspect his arm tattoo... and face.

Katie Walsh

Oh my god, I looooove it all. Including his face.

Katie Heaney

@Katie Walsh I know, I was like, "It IS important. It's...important."

Katie Walsh

@Katie Heaney I would like Aaron to make me a ring of his face-- OK THIS JUST GOT CREEPY


@Katie Walsh but the BEST KIND OF CREEPY, right?


@Katie Walsh It's the most important part of this piece!


@Katie Walsh I need Edith to marry him and then they can have hip, little, jewelry-loving, wise-cracking, imaginary conversations with animals & inanimate objects having GORGEOUS BABIES!!!!!!


@ThundaCunt Everybody start writing Edith/Aaron fanfiction, NOW!


@schrodingers_cat I will actually do this


@schrodingers_cat My heart will always lie with Edith/Rich fanfic - I can't abandon that fantasy just yet!

Daisy Razor

@nyikint You are just trying to Rule 34 that into existence, aren't you?

Katie Walsh


Daisy Razor

@nyikint That is actually much better thought out than the other fanfic featuring Edith that I (partially) read once.


@nyikint I hope you know that I am loving this


This post has reminded me that I really want the 'bears fighting over a jewel' ring. Bears!


Or the octopus ring. Octopuses!


@VDRE I know! I looove all the animal rings. I wish I could just cover myself in animal jewelry right now.

Judith Slutler

Ooh. I checked out their website before reading this, and even though I don't think I could actually wear a big ring like that... I was definitely drawn to that ring.


Keep your rings and save me the Seppie necklace.

raised amongst catalogs

"Aaron is 31, comes from Maine, used to make furniture, and now makes this jewelry full-time." ----> I officially have hot pants now. Thanks.

Reginal T. Squirge

And the fucking "Inigo & Atreyu collection"! Good God, man! Leave some for the rest of us!


so pretty. all of it. (yes including the designer. men with sleeve tattoos, I am such a sucker for you.)

also, cannot think of vermeil without thinking of The West Wing.


The hunter cuff links! Payday! HURRY UP!

Reginal T. Squirge

LOL. The site is blocked at work, under the category of "weapons".


@Reginal T. Squirge Can we talk about sites that are blocked at work some time? Because it entertains the heck out of me what I can and can't see/do at work.

Reginal T. Squirge

This one fits, though, because this dude and his jewelry are effectively murdering all my hopes of anyone ever being attracted to me.

Hello Dolly

@Reginal T. Squirge Same here! I was like "killer diamonds?"


@Spicy Bubbles
I would buy killer diamonds - they'd make me feel safer walking alone at night (I am only half joking).


Oh sweet lord. I want it all, man included. Edith, do you have the greatest job in the world or the greatest job of the century?


I feel this is a good place to ask for vintage (or vintage style) jewelry shop recommendations. I have been drooling over Doyle and Doyle and Erica Weiner for a while now, but I want more! And I'm lazy and don't like trawling through ebay or one of other sites with lots of junk. Or in general, any good jewelry shops! I am looking for engagementy type rings without diamonds.

It's me, Mo-Dean

@rallisaurus Although I don't wear jewelry and I'm a guy, I find myself drawn to the vintage pieces on eriebasin.com and their tumblr blog, eriebasin.tumblr.com. They're closed now for vacation, but it looks like they have a great shop and part of their inventory is online.


@rallisaurus I always pimp Melissa Joy Manning because I love love her stuff.


@rallisaurus Turtle Love Co or something.


Ahhhhh, nooooooooo, I already spent too much on a Nervous System ring from the Walker Art Center! DON'T MAKE ME WANT MORE THINGS, MORE EVERYTHING

P.S. Nervous System's jewelry is cheaper online, but I figured that it wasn't so bad if the difference went to support a museum, especially since I was there on a free night. Plus, wearable memorabilia from Minneapolis! Who else has awesome clothing or jewelry from their travels? I am so regretful of not getting any earrings or anything when I was in Germany.


@frigwiggin I have a pink hammered metal cuff bracelet that I got in Camden when I went to the UK in 2007. I love it bc it was a very spur-of-the-moment trip, all expedited passports and last-minute flights, with one of my best friends, following a couple of our favorite bands around. We saw 7 shows in 10 days, and did very little sightseeing other than venues and nightclubs, but we ended up in London. We made time to wander around Camden because our new friends told us we should. What a great trip.


@frigwiggin I have a silk scarf that I bought in the crypt of Saint Martin in the Fields church in London. I never wear it, because I'm more of a knit scarf person, but I love where it came from. I do, however, wear my set of three silver bangles I bought in Mexico.

Also, I think I need that oval Digby & Iona ring, even though I just put down a deposit on a gold nose stud...


Ooh, those are at The Walker? You made a great choice all around, I'd say.

My nose stud is from India can't remember which city. In Rajastan at least), and I'm still obsessed with a ring I picked up in a little Tibetan shop in So-Ho this spring. My mom said it looks like a cigar ring and she is so right.

Daisy Razor

@frigwiggin I have Nervous System jewelry too! I got two of their necklaces at one of their first craft shows. It's so cool to see how successful they are now.

Regina Phalange

@frigwiggin For a second, I thought maybe you'd gotten a ring styled to look lke the human central nervous system. And I'm not ashamed to admit, I was kinda into it.


um, um, um, so... how do we date him? i mean buy the jewelry. yep, jewelry.


I remember this! I totally shared the website WITH EVERYONE, especially the Princess Bride engagement rings. BUT HE IS ALSO HANDSOME OH LORDY.


I want John Krasinski to make me some jewelry!

Jessica Kay

@likethestore I made an account (finally) just to say YES! I was looking for someone to say he's a dead-ringer for John Krasinksi!! Yummm.


Yes! Yes! Can I tell you how much I like "The Law in 6 Parts" and "The Rakish Hand?"


Edith, I'm going to need to know about those bracelets now.

Edith Zimmerman

@NeverOddOrEven WELL. I got the bird one from Erie Basin, and the others I inherited. I can't go to Erie Basin very much, or I would ruin my life.


@Edith Zimmerman Damn. I was most interested in the bangles. Is it two separate pieces connected by a chain? Because I dig that quite a bit.
But that site is pretty damn great too.

Edith Zimmerman

@NeverOddOrEven They're separates, and they aren't attached -- each has a chain for ... security, I guess, when it opens. (Like this.) Jane made me swear that she can have them if I die.


You beat me to it! *shakes fist*
But thanks for this because I was also wondering the same thing.
*Googles Erie Basin and hopes it's not ruinously expensive*


OK, not even a fan of diamonds or rings but OF COURSE I want all of the 20's and 30's diamond rings totalling a cost of over $15,000. Oh, and that 1890's one ($395).


aaaaaaannnnd back on the Digby & Iona's site; <3 you Rakish Hand and Octopus Ring for ever!


@Edith Zimmerman And now I'm realizing I've probably seen very similar bracelets a million times in thrift stores but never bothered to pick one up. As of now I am a woman on a mission.

fruiting body

After Jane's last post about Digby & Iona I ordered the 'petite wave ring' to be my replacement wedding ring, and it's so awesome. 100% endorsement!

Regina Phalange

Edith, I appreciate your cool under twitterpation. I most likely would have tried on a ring, then made some awkward joke about how I heard it's bad luck to give a woman a ring and then not marry her, wouldn't want to risk that, right, hahahahahaha jk (slight crazy eyes).


I am REAL into the way his face looks. And the jewelry's cool too, I guess.


OMG I had never caught Digby & Iona mentioned on the 'pin before but I have been messaging with Aaron about my engagement ring and he is SO NICE AND HELPFUL. AND NOW THANKS TO THIS POST I KNOW HOW HOT HE IS AND NOW I FEEL WEIRD.

Arts Drawing@facebook

nice rings, about best jewellery Engagement Rings

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