Fear the Reaper


Sometimes it’s a perfect storm.  I’ve talked about this before, but when a client can come to me with a rough idea with specific goals and a target aesthetic and THEN has the trust to just let me do my thing, magic can happen.  Ladies and gentleman, check out the black death.

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This is a heavily modified Jupiter Skull ring with fully customed features around the eyes, jaw, and forehead as well as a reaper carved around the back of the shank and two rubies set in the eyes.

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With rings like this, I need help setting those stones and my friends over in north ATL KILLED it with an amazing laser job. The stones are open from the back so light can pass through and the result is just awesome.  Here are some detail shots of the reaper.

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Over time, this gunmetal finish will wear away to a high polish, leaving the recesses black.  But I also industrialized the finish a bit so it looks more raw and rough.  It’ll NEVER be a pretty ring and that’s what the client wanted.  She ain’t pretty, she’s fierce.  Heavy, solid, cast as one piece and everything (in my opinion) that a custom skull ring was meant to be.

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I know I’ve done my job when it hurts to send her off into the world.  Sounds like I’m bragging, but it isn’t me.  It’s the client who had the concept and let the ring develop through collaboration.  Just like getting a tattoo.

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Blood Meridian: The arrival of the Leonids

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I’ve finished my companion piece to the new Gentleman ring.  This one has been a long time in the making and really just hinged on me finding a place that could supply the right kind of gemstone.  I had very specific requirements for this and I’m happy to say I’ve cracked it wide open.

Ladies and germs, I’d like to introduce you to the Leonids.  
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I bought a square turquoise stone ring on an indian reservation outside of Tucson once and I thought it was just hte coolest freakin’ thing I’d ever seen.  The ring wasn’t made very well and broke after about a year of daily wear, but I always loved the shape of it – the flat sculptural planes around the bezel caught the light and the stone was a pale blue, not that childish cloud-blue that you see in so many of the crappy turquoise rings you can buy online.  The stone was so pale that in the sun, it took on a ghostly effect.

I spent a lot of time looking for its equal and…yep, you guessed it…..nobody made ’em.

Unless you like this shit:

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Just like I was complaining about on my previous post, there’s no care at all taken with how the stone and the ring interact.  It’s a dinner plate filled with crappy stone just clumsily soldered onto a tiny band.  Why don’t you just glue the f’king thing to your finger?  Or how about duct taping a poptart to the back of your hand?

So enter the Kingman turquoise.  This stuff is coming out of the Cerbat mountains north of Kingman Arizona.

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I’m working directly with the miners and processors on this one.  They’re producing a 18x25mm turquoise rectangle in the exact color I wanted.  Not cheap, by any stretch of the imagination, but they had exactly what I was looking for.

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And it’s not like its easy to mine.  Or work with.  It’s a delicate stone compared to onyx or agate and so much of the stuff you see on the market is fake or artificially dyed for the morons who like their jewelry to look like its made of plastic or think it makes perfect sense to be able to buy a ring for 45 bucks.

Anyway, access to the right stones is going to let me finally create an improved version of the ring I’ve always loved.

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There’s a skull on either side and a femur bone connects the two across the back of the shank overlapping a single eye.

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She’s not small either.  That stone is 25mm tall, so this is a nice, comfortable, but substantial ring.  To me it embodies the real west.  The Blood Meridian west.  All american made with legit AZ turquoise mined and processed a mere seven miles from the mountain.  And then shipped to yours truly to make THE square turquoise signet that we all deserved, but could never find.

The Leonids and the Gentleman.  Yep – my two gemstone offerings.  They’re both rolling out this Fall and will go $495 to your door, at least for a little while.  The Leonids may be a limited run since the supply of stones is..well…limited.

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The Gentleman


It’s about time for a new product.

I’ve been wanting to do something with some stones for quite a while.  Yeah, I set stones in the eyes of skull rings on a pretty regular basis, but rings like that are all about the shape of the skull.

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I’ve also done a number of full custom pieces that turn the tables on a classic gemstone ring and create a ring around a specific client-selected stone or a stone I’ve gone hunting for.  These weren’t a regular part of the line, but instead they were full custom jobs created from scratch.  Naturally work like this ain’t cheap.

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But what about offering something like this as part of the line?  A great, classic men’s ring with a massive gemstone.  Something badass, but also very colorful and elegant.  Something you’d wear when playfully tying a chick to a railroad track or trying to fry James Bond’s nuts with a laser – yeah, kind of a supervillain ring.

I’m aware there are other gemstone rings on the market.  So let’s address that with an absolutely shocking, mind-blowing, totally surprising fact: most of them suck.  Yes, just like the classic men’s torque I put out last year, I was and am unable to find an affordable but well-made American gemstone ring.  They are all hollow-backed, shitty trinkets with tiny-ass stones that look almost embarrassed to be sticking out of the top of the ring.   There are also a metric shit-ton of them that look like they were made in some crappy community-ed jewelry class.  You know the kind I’m talking about.

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A thin band of sterling silver sloppily soldered on one end with a thin, uneven bezel.  This crooked-ass flying saucer-looking thing is then just soldered right on top of the shitty band for one of the shittiest-looking crafty ass pieces of shit you can freakin’ wear.   It’s a triumph of absolutely no creative engagement with the shape of the stone and the laziest way to incorporate the mounting with the band.

Luckily there are a small handful of makers out there trying to get people to wear good product and I’m throwing down with a new gemstone ring I’m calling The Gentleman.  It’s heavy, solid-backed, comes in sterling or gold, and can be fitted with a variety of 30x22mm oval gemstones from black onyx to tigers eye to mother of pearl.

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This is the Lex Luthor ring.  The Al Swearengen ring.  The Louis Cypher ring.   The ring you can wear into a board room that says “I’m a serious professional” but also “I might have dug a hole or two.”

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I wanted to make something for the modern gentleman.  Wear it with the suit and engraved Rolex or rock it next to a skull ring with a big, raw, chunky silver biker bracelet and your tattoo sleeves.   Drop it on a ring finger if you don’t want to scare people, or drop it on your pinky if you do.

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That’s gunmetal patina.  Yeah.  Oh, and of course, if you look on the back of the shank, there are a pair of skulls on either side.

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The Gentleman will be available this Fall on http://www.mtmaloney.com and is going to roll at $495 for sterling with shipping included, at least for a little while.  Email me at matt@mtmaloney.com if you have any questions in the meantime.

And you know what?  I’m not done.  I’ve got another stone ring coming right behind this one that’s a bit more cowboy.  Stay tuned.

The Root of all Evel

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After a summer of carving and hacking, casting and polishing, the Evel Knievel ring is finished and on its way to Robb.  She’s chunky and will definitely leave a few accidental bruises on loved ones and unlucky friends, but man, what a piece.

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I think Robb is a chef and that puts him in a distinct class of people that I’m very happy to make work for.  I was a short-order cook when I was a teenager and I worked in the restaurant and food service biz starting at 14 years old, so while I’m not a chef myself, I definitely respect it as a warrior class if you know what I mean.

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I also had this badass Evel Knievel toy when I was a kid.  Remember that?  Well I was thinking about it the entire time I was working on this ring.  Evel was a freakin’ superhero in the 70s and 80s.  It’s hard to imagine someone like that being an A-lister now, but he was.  You’d even see updates on his stunts on the national mainstream nightly news.

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Other than that, my summer has been slow and steady.  As I’ve talked about, I’m not taking as many orders as usual and trying to focus on some other projects.  I do have some cool pieces in the pipeline right now, but a good deal of my time has been spent moving my shop to bigger and better digs and grilling all kinds of dead things on my webber.

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It’s really been the summer of the Jupiter.  I’ve had a number of people ordering custom skull rings and while the King Skull was leading the pack for years, there’s  been a rush on my big, hulking, full-jawed Jupiter ring.

I’m working on a custom job that may or may not ever leave my shop using jade eyes and some sugar treatment along with a central image of the Five Rings from Miyamoto Musashi.

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But this one is a long ways off from casting still.  I’ve been working on it alongside one of the coolest King Skull requests I’ve had in a while.  While this Jupiter is completely covered in scroll work and detail-carving, I’ve had a request to do a reduced “aged” King Skull with minimal lines and a streamlined brow.


This may be a ‘thing.’  In other words, I’m pretty happy with the way this looks and I wouldn’t be surprised if I had a run on this kind of simplified form.  I’ve also had a lot of people emailing me and asking if they can get ‘minimized’ skull rings like this.  Obviously this takes inspiration from Courts and Hackett’s Keith Richards ring, but interestingly enough it’s rooted in how the ring looks NOW as opposed to how it was originally designed.

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As you can see, all of the detail is word away into a smooth surface, leaving the basic shape of the skull, the nose and eyes, and a smooth half-cylinder that used to be the upper jaw.  Of course, the King doesn’t look like the Richards ring and NO, I won’t make you a copy of the Richards ring (still get 1 or 2 emails a week asking for that) but the idea of a smoothed-down ring is clearly yet another conceptual tribute to the ring that started it all.

I’ve talked about these cats before, but if you aren’t a long-time reader or you just have a short memory, swing by Courts and Hackett and pick up their Death’s Head ring.  If you’re a skull ring collector, not having one is like collecting fine Swiss watches and not owning a Rolex.  More on that later.