Rutledge Jewelry
Photo: Ryan Segedi

Jonathan Lee Rutledge’s jewelry line, a collection of iridescent gems set in 22-karat gold, doesn’t just recall classical Greece in style. He uses an ancient technique called granulation, in which intricate patterns are created with small spheres of gold. The results might look complicated, but his thought process isn’t: “People play around with ideas. I never do that. It just pops into my head, then I make it.” His path to jewelry designing was circuitous. As an only child growing up in Evanston, he would occupy himself by building models of battleships and other ephemera out of wood. After a stint in the U.S. Air Force, he enrolled at Illinois State University, where, when another elective was full, he took a metalsmithing class. This led him to discover jewelry, and he worked as a firefighter while he built his studio and started making pieces. Today, his oeuvre includes necklaces, brooches, and rings (pictured, from left: ruby, $7,000; black diamond, $8,700; and moonstone, $4,500) — what you might call, despite the unexpected journey, all the classics.