Designing for the 2018 AGTA Spectrum Awards


     The AGTA (American Gem Trade Association) Spectrum Awards began in 1984 as a competition for the creative use of colored gemstones and cultured pearls. Today they are the most respected and prestigious design competition for the jewelry industry. Winners set the standards of excellence for the entire industry. The Spectrum Awards competition has launched trends, increased visibility for designer jewelry, and inspired great innovation in use of color and materials. Every entry into the competition is evaluated with a meticulous eye for innovation, quality, craftsmanship, and beauty.

     In the past, I have been fortunate enough to flex my creativity and intuition for my clientele through custom design. I truly owe much of my industry recognition to the amazing relationships I have forged with my clients. I have been able to enter custom design pieces on loan as my yearly Spectrum entries. Though this is not the typical industry standard, it has proved an immensely successful strategy for me as I have amassed 17 Spectrum awards throughout my career. Not by surprise, this strategy has also amassed a large collection of Internationally recognized pieces that belong to the local community here in Raleigh, Durham, and Chapel Hill, North Carolina.

  Montana and Yellow Sapphire Ring

Montana and Yellow Sapphire Ring

  Blue Sapphire Ring

Blue Sapphire Ring

This year I wanted to take a moment outside of my usual client design schedule and find a way to bring attention to the strong and powerful women that have been increasingly brave in their fight for the truth. Though the Spectrum Awards are not typically politically charged, I felt a strong pull to use my art to share my acknowledgment and support for the women in my life and beyond. I had my team here at the shop come up with some ideas for what they thought represented the women’s empowerment movement to them personally. We sat down together and talked about what these words and ideas meant, and even spoke with some clients who stopped by the store that day to get their impressions. I knew I wanted to do a set of rings that each had two letters. The idea being that separate they wouldn’t hold meaning but together they form a cohesive piece that had a message. We then brought the top two ideas to our local Facebook and Instagram community to get their thoughts. The overwhelming vote went to “Stay True”. The coming together of my community to help design these rings was an incredible experience. It is my hope that these rings symbolize the act of Staying True to yourself, speaking up, and that by working together we all can make change happen.

  Grey and Purple Sapphire Rings 2018 AGTA Spectrum Awards Entry

Grey and Purple Sapphire Rings 2018 AGTA Spectrum Awards Entry


How To Wear Stacking Rings Like A Boss

It is mid-2018 and stacking rings still seem to be everywhere, and our guess is they are here to stay (hey, no complaints here). Maybe you already stack or are just looking to start - either way our style guide is here to help you achieve that effortlessly chic look AND rock it on the daily.  


 Ring Stack featuring "Ahoy There", "You're A True Blue" ,"Hello Yellow" & "Pyramid"

Ring Stack featuring "Ahoy There", "You're A True Blue" ,"Hello Yellow" & "Pyramid"

First off, there is no right or wrong way to stack, but if you are just starting off you can’t go wrong with keeping it simple. This allows for more mixing and matching and also won’t be cumbersome during your day to day tasks. After all, the beauty of the stack is that you don’t even realize that they are there - aside from the bounty of compliments you will receive!

 Ring Stack featuring "Threes Company", "Get Hammered", "Stay Gold" & "Ultra Slim"

Ring Stack featuring "Threes Company", "Get Hammered", "Stay Gold" & "Ultra Slim"

To add a touch more glam to your stack, add a ring or two with matching gemstones. This instantly elevates your look without too much hassle and will blend seamlessly with what you’ve already been working with. Feeling a bit more adventurous? Try a darker or lighter gemstone for a little more contrast.

 Ring Stack featuring "Triangle", "Back to Black" & "Wrap It Up"

Ring Stack featuring "Triangle", "Back to Black" & "Wrap It Up"

Play around with mixing your metals, gemstones, and textures. This adds a playful element to your stack and gives you plenty of variety. You know what goes with everything? Everything!

 Ring Stack ft. "Yellow Diamond","Emerald", "Beaded or Bust","Run of the Milgrain", & " Tiny Diamond"

Ring Stack ft. "Yellow Diamond","Emerald", "Beaded or Bust","Run of the Milgrain", & " Tiny Diamond"

The one rule of stacking rings is to have fun and always be yourself! Once you stack you don’t go back. You can shop the styles pictured above online and instore now. We are also happy to help you find the perfect mix that fits your unique personality. Just give us a call or shoot us an email. 


Repairing a 19th Century Tiffany & Co. Sword

As an avid collector of antiquities and oddities, I love that I can still be surprised by what my clients bring by the workshop, such as this broken 19th century Tiffany & Co. Sword.

 19th Century Tiffany & Co. Sword 

19th Century Tiffany & Co. Sword 

In 1862, Tiffany & Co. was the main supplier of swords to the Union Army. Though Tiffany & Co. was founded only a mere 25 years earlier as a stationary supplier they already had an illustrious reputation for providing a large variety of quality goods. They even provided the army with flags and surgical implements. As time has shown the brand went on to become an iconic jewelry manufacturer. This was in part after Charles Lewis Tiffany invented the raised prong solitaire setting, now referred to and trademarked as the Tiffany setting.

 Signature Tiffany Setting courtesy of Tiffany & Co.

Signature Tiffany Setting courtesy of Tiffany & Co.

This Tiffany & Co. sword was brought in with a complete break just about halfway down the blade.

 Tiffany & Co. Sword in need of repair

Tiffany & Co. Sword in need of repair

The blade itself is elegantly etched so repairing such a fracture takes expertise and patience. As a fifth-generation metalsmith, I felt confident that this sword could be given new life! Though custom jewelry creation is what I am best known for I love the challenge of fixing something as unique as this heirloom sword.

 Tiffany & Co. sword after repair

Tiffany & Co. sword after repair

Follow the hashtag #WilliamTravisRepairedThat to see what other pieces I have repaired over the years!

5 Things You Need To Know About Synthetic Diamonds


Eco-friendly and humanely acquired gemstones have always been a necessity for us at William Travis Jewelry.  As technology advances, new resources for conflict-free diamonds are here. We predict that synthetic diamonds will only grow in popularity as they become more readily available. Below is our quick guide  to help you get in the know.

                                                                                                               Image courtesy of the Gemological Institute of America Inc

                                                                                                              Image courtesy of the Gemological Institute of America Inc


1. Synthetic diamonds are made from the same material as natural diamonds. That material is PURE CARBON which has been crystalized in isotropic 3D form.

                                                                      Image courtesy of The Raw Stone

                                                                     Image courtesy of The Raw Stone

2. Synthetic diamonds are not that new. Lab-grown diamonds have been commercially available since the 1950's. But just like a great wine, the quality has gotten way better with age.

3. Lab-grown diamonds come in clear (white), yellow, brown, blue-green, pink, and orange. Synthetic diamonds are indistinguishable from natural diamonds which is why a machine called a spectroscope was developed for use by gemologists.

                                                                                             Image courtesy of  Renaissance Diamonds

                                                                                            Image courtesy of  Renaissance Diamonds

4. Synthetic diamonds are on average 15-20% less expensive than natural diamonds and these costs are expected to keep declining as production economics improve. 

5. Not all lab-grown diamonds are created equal. As with natural diamonds, synthetic diamonds undergo a rigorous grading process (remember the spectroscope?) and a GIA certification is recommended.


Have some questions? Our trusted staff would be happy to answer any gemstone inquiries, synthetic or otherwise.