J. Rudy Lewis: Jeweler

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Recent Work: J. Rudy Lewis, Jeweler 2016

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Photography by Tony Ward, Copyright 2016

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J. Rudy Lewis comes from a family of adventurers, explorers, art collectors, and all around eccentrics. After forsaking the family trade of practicing law and trying out several blue-collar jobs, Lewis found himself a jewelry designer. A self-described “outsider to the design industry” Lewis’ journey to jewelry is as varied as his work. Whether it was researching his grandparents (a Baron and Baroness who crossed deserts and had an Anaconda named after them), shingling houses in Maine or moving art in Philadelphia these experiences gave Lewis his unique artistic perspective. His “Free Forms” collection explores the concept of art as jewelry throughout time -“pieces of jewelry have been found in ancient archaeological excavations all over the world.” Lewis is a student of the history of art, always observing and incorporating fragments of the past into his modern work. Like his “Five Journey’s” Cuff, hand forged and fabricated from sterling silver with 18k yellow gold detail set with natural rough rose cut diamonds, that looks to have just been found buried in the desert. With J. Rudy Lewis every piece tells a story. 

The tale Lewis’ jewelry spins is one of an old-Victorian soul with a raw modern edge. His “Victoria” cuff seems destined to appear on Charlotte Bronte’s arm – that is if Bronte was on her way to CBGB’s. The hand forged and fabricated brass cuff is like nothing you’ve ever seen-accentuated with brass buttons and topped off with one brass vulture button with a hand finished leather strap. As of late, Lewis has started to incorporate aged leather into his metal work saying “I love how it accentuates the age, history and story I am bringing into my work.”

The workbench is where J. Rudy Lewis’ pieces are born. It is an intimate process: just Rudy, the materials, and the imagined wearer of the unmade piece. As Lewis says “I try to give life to each piece that comes into my hand, so that its owner will cherish it, not simply possess it.” The pieces in “Collection” follow the familiar theme of repetition, balance, and symmetry in nature that can be found in much of Lewis’ jewelry. 

The pieces are not limited to one age or gender, but rather to anyone who shares Lewis’ outsider sensibility. There are his and her Ancient Coin pieces – rings for men and necklaces for ladies, each with a Greek coin dating back to 400-350 B.C. set in 18k gold. In creating these wearable art works, Rudy only incorporates methods and techniques that fit with his aesthetic like hand forging and wax carving. Lewis does not shy away from the unique – whether it is crafting a necklace from Dinosaurs bones or green diamonds – he is attracted to elements that dance in the imagination of the viewer.

Above all, Lewis is moved by a design question-the more unique the posed question is the more interesting the final piece becomes. The inspiration for his “Recess” collection was derived from a creature his son had drawn. A wholly original creature part Dodo, part chicken, part seagull – a “Pteranadon” his son declared. From that starting point, Lewis created a line of pins inspired by the “freedom” of his child’s imagination. These sterling silver and 22k gold pieces represent “a time before anyone had thought to curb the imagination by rules and rote example.”

J Rudy Lewis’ jewelry combines the raw edge of his diverse background with the elegance gleaned from his rich family history and understanding of different art practices. Lewis is unrivaled in his dedication to create work just as his patrons imagined. Each creation he “gives life” to are not merely pieces of jewelry but works of art – perfect for those who are born tastemakers or for anyone looking to make a statement. Stand out, be bold, and get noticed in J. Rudy Lewis jewelry. 

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Portrait of J. Rudy Lewis by Tony Ward, Copyright 2016

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