FOR SOME JEWELRY designers, it takes years of practice before their abilities fully bloom. But for a talented few, their jewelry is instantly recognized as something the world has never seen before. Such is the case with Tariq Riaz, who hasn’t even debuted his collection to the public yet but has already won seven design awards from AGTA, JCK and now INSTORE within the past year.
Riaz wowed our judges and voting retailers with his trademarked “Abrazo” technique that allows pieces to stretch or condense in size, or even to be worn in various configurations. A former computer system engineer, Riaz was inspired to use his technical imagination in jewelry when he was unable to find a ring that his pregnant wife could wear during and after her pregnancy as her fingers swelled and then shrank. “That was the beginning of part two of my life as I started exploring the tensions between art and mechanics in jewelry,” he says.
That was in 2014. Since then, he’s taken GIA courses and traveled to Belgium, Germany, Afghanistan and Pakistan to learn various aspects of jewelry making and source gemstones. Riaz’s designs are produced in-house at his Abu Dhabi workshop.
This year, he will exhibit for the first time in Las Vegas at both Couture and JCK. His next collection will continue to push the boundaries of how jewelry can work mechanically — or as he puts it, “tango dancing with Mother Nature.”
Ring in 18K rose and white gold with diamonds; adjusts to fit US sizes 6-10, $9,000
Door of Goodness
Ring in 18K white gold with diamonds and natural blue sapphire; adjusts to fit US sizes 6-10, $11,750
Band in 18K white and rose gold with natural rhodolite; adjusts to fit US sizes 6-10, $9,500
Ring in 18K white gold with tanzanite, tsavorite, and pink, yellow and blue sapphire; adjusts to fit US sizes 6-10, $10,700
Ring from the Khalas collection in 18K yellow gold with diamonds; adjusts to fit US sizes 6-10, $8,250
Earrings in 18K rose gold with diamonds; can be worn in two different formations, $7,400
Q&A with Tariq Riaz
Why did you become a jewelry designer?
Ever since I was a kid, I was drawn to moving parts and figuring out how complex machines work. I used to open all my toys and always tried to see the inner workings of mechanical parts. My father, who was an engineer, could relate to my curiosity but also would get upset at me for opening and tinkering with all of the electrical and mechanical appliances in the house. By my teen years, I did make a reputation in my family that if something is not working, take it to Tariq and he will be able to fix it for you. I went to University of Arizona for computer information systems and operations management degrees and worked for several different technology companies as a computer system engineer.
My jewelry designer journey started seven years ago in 2014 when my wife and I were expecting the first of our two daughters. She would complain about her rings not fitting after the first trimester due to swelling while being pregnant. Unfortunately, we had three prior unsuccessful pregnancies where she had the same complaints about swollen fingers. That’s when I decided to surprise her with a new ring. I went out to luxury jewelry houses to buy her the most luxurious ring that she had ever owned. To my surprise, there was nothing that I could find that would fit her in her pregnant (as well as non-pregnant) state. I was really surprised by my finding that top brands were not able to offer a ring that would last the test of time and would fit regardless of any stage or time of your life.
That is when I decided to start designing my first ring. This was the beginning of part two of my life as I started exploring the tensions between art and mechanics in jewelry. I fell in love with everything about jewelry designing, stone setting and manufacturing. Within the next few months, I registered in GIA classes to learn everything about color stones, diamonds and pearls. I went to Belgium and Germany to learn the old techniques of stone setting and micro pavé. I went to Panjshir, Afghanistan and Swat, Pakistan to source emeralds for my first pieces. My first collection, consisting of 21 platinum pavé set pieces, took three and a half years to make. Now, I am seven years into my journey with multiple collections later, and I feel that I have found my true calling.
When and how did you officially launch your collection?
I was fortunate enough to have a bit of a cult following, loyal repeat customers, and word of mouth that has served me well. In 2020, I participated in my first jewelry award competition with the American Gem Traders Association Spectrum Awards. When I won two awards for manufacturing honors and evening wear category, I knew it was now time to officially launch to the public.
As such, I am now in the last month of finalizing my official website and branding. I will be debuting my collection to the public for the first time this August 2021 in Las Vegas. If you happen to be in Las Vegas, come and visit Couture show at booth DA26 from August 24 to 26 and also at the JCK show booth 13046 from August 27 to 30.
What is your design aesthetic?
I am mesmerized by the laws of nature like the reflection and refraction properties of light and the fundamental property of matter. Such as “wave-particle duality,” where at one moment it appears like a wave, and yet at another moment it acts like a particle. Everything changes based on the presence or the absence of an observer. I will not go down the rabbit hole here, but simply put, it’s all about tango dancing with Mother Nature. I call it the abrazo™ philosophy.
My work explores the tensions between art and mechanics, poetry and science, capturing movement in precious metals and beautiful stones sourced with integrity. The rings are works of art that apply Abrazo™ philosophy: precise technical innovation to fit and move with the bodies they adorn. The rings expand to fit all fingers throughout a lifetime, making them comfortable for every wearer, every time.
What influences and inspires your designs?
The idea is to design extraordinary pieces of jewelry to tell stories inspired by nature, by culture and by the people who wear them. My creations sit at the crossroads of art and mechanics, where poetry meets rigorous craftsmanship, where movement is captured in a moment of time. With a background in robotics and design, I try to bring more than sheer creativity to my work. I fuse art and technology to make jewelry that moves with the body, with bespoke Abrazo™ mechanisms to ensure perfect fit across a lifetime.
What’s next for your collection?
This year, after winning seven different jewelry awards with American Gem Traders Association, JCK, and INSTORE, I am truly humbled and honored. I am excited about the way my current collection has been received and reviewed by the jewelry community.
My Abu Dhabi workshop is a place for experimentation and play, where I and my team of skilled craftsmen celebrate the possibilities of beauty and science. Together we design and manufacture jewelry that explores my artistic inspirations, all done in house in my studio. My strength is not only in my unique and original designs but also in the fact that I have state-of-the-art technology and full control over every aspect of my manufacturing process and techniques.
For my next collection, I am already intensely experimenting with new inventive designs that push the boundaries of fusing mechanics and arts. I would say nothing short of bringing the wearer both the Abrazo™ philosophy extended with an increased experience for the soul. I will continue to design and create unique pieces to be worn, collected and loved for generations.