- For Ruth Avra, creating is about “making a beautiful work of art,” as shown in her “Black Rose Series.”
Recycled stingray skin. Raw diamonds. Antler. Quartz. “I like to push the envelope,” says metalsmith Ruth Avra. The materials she uses to create her stunning and unique jewelry, belts and handbags are as varied as the pieces themselves.
Inspiration first hit Avra when she was 10 years old at a bead shop in her hometown of Rockville, Md. At 14, she got a job there and learned all the tricks of the trade, from wire techniques to stringing pearls. It was also at the bead shop that she was first introduced to gems and stones, a staple of her current work.
Metalsmithing entered the picture at the University of Wisconsin–Madison. “It took me a while to truly understand how to use the torch to my advantage,” she admits. “Once it clicked, I knew I was in love.”
After stints working for jewelry designer Sara Samoiloff and at Kate Spade, Avra moved to Hollywood, Fla., in 2003 to launch her own line. Beginning with belts and handbags, her weapon of choice was, and continues to be, the hydraulic press. She creates a unique mold for each piece and uses the press to create art out of metal. The end results are amazing works that can’t be duplicated by anyone else.
Her current work consists of two main lines: the Signature Collection features rare stones in unisex jewelry, handbags and belt buckles. The new “a la AVRA” jewelry collection is suitable for everyday wear.
Avra’s work will evolve as she adds even more techniques to her arsenal, particularly wax carving. “With wax, there are endless possibilities,” she explains. “There are textures, curves and forms you cannot make easily with metal.”
Don’t expect her to shy away from outrageous materials either. Recycled antler slices appear in her newest pieces alongside uncut diamonds and gold. “I have a million ideas tucked away—enough fuel for many years to come, and I look forward to creating each and every one.”