Takayas was recently interviewed by VoyageLA, a publication dedicated to sharing the stories of Los Angeles’ independent artists, entrepreneurs, and other risk takers who they feel make our city exciting to live in.
If you’re curious to know more about Takayas himself, continue reading to see the interview in its entirety…
Takayas, let’s start with your story. We’d love to hear how you got started and how the journey has been so far.
I came to the United States from Japan when I was a student at Illinois State. It was a huge change of scenery: wide, open countryside, lots of space to think. Having that environment to think led me to the decision to start creating jewelry. My father was in the fashion industry, so it’s something I was familiar with while growing up. I had always liked creating, so it was a natural move to try creating jewelry.
Overall, has it been relatively smooth? If not, what were some of the struggles along the way?
It definitely hasn’t been a smooth road! I’m self-taught. After I decided to design jewelry, I moved to California to attend a jewelry institute in Orange County. Two months after I started, the school shut down. As I already had bought the design equipment for school, I rented an art studio and started to teach myself how to design and create jewelry. Little by little I learned about CAD designing and gained my reputation as a custom jeweler. I’m still learning to this day.
Please tell us about Takayas & Co.
My company specializes in making custom engagement rings. We’re known for translating a customer’s inspiration into luxury jewelry, using principles of art and composition derived from Ikebana, the Japanese art of flower arranging. I get a great sense of satisfaction in crafting pieces that are so symbolic and important in our customers’ lives, and am dedicated to making the custom design process enjoyable and fulfilling, making sure our customers are 100% happy with their designs. I’m also proud of my new signature collection, which will be released soon.
If you had to go back in time and start over, would you have done anything differently?
I don’t think I would do anything differently – I don’t have regrets, because every mistake I made along the way taught an important lesson about how to run my business. I would say the most valuable lessons I’ve learned are all about establishing trust and good communication with customers. I learned early on to prioritize social media and communications with my sales staff, as these are the avenues that potential customers first connect with our work. Successful custom design is about listening, and establishing that sense of trust from the outset carries through the entire process.
Photo Credit: Elio Tolot
Mark was compelled to contact us when he came across a diamond solitaire ring design that Takayas had previously created, asking if we could make something similar yet unique as an engagement ring for his beloved Joy.
He told us that Joy prefers minimal, simple, clean designs, which is why he was drawn to the first ring. When we asked for images to inspire the new solitaire design, we were pleasantly surprised to receive pictures of Joy’s own artwork!
Mark had many questions before deciding to work with us, and we were happy to answer every one. We later found out the reason for his extraordinary attention to detail: Joy herself creates jewelry and has jewelers in her family as well, so he felt a lot of pressure to make sure the ring he ultimately presented to her was absolutely perfect.
Takayas referenced the images of Joy’s pottery while creating the unique solitaire design, incorporating the soft organic look of her artwork into what would soon become her ring.
Once Mark had approved of the renderings, he started making plans for his proposal; Since he was in the process of fixing up his new house, he decided to decorate his sunroom with a variety of lights (Chinese lanterns, floating lanterns, tea lights, string LEDs …) and pop the question there. He finished decorating the day the ring arrived, so he was ready to propose that night! I’ll let Mark tell the rest of the story, in his own words:
So, after I made the finishing touches on the decorations, I went to pick up Joy and we went to eat out at a sushi restaurant. After dinner, I told her I wanted to show here some of the things I’ve been working on at my house (since she knew I was doing a lot of cleaning/house stuff/etc. the last couple days). When we pulled into the garage, I told her to stay there for a little bit. I went to the room I had decorated and turned on all the lights, (by this time, it was already dark,) then went back to her and blindfolded her. I led her to the room and started some music, then removed the blindfold. She was surprised at the decorations but it didn’t really sink in what was happening. After giving her some time to take everything in, I told her some things, then got on one knee and pulled out the ring that I was hiding under a table. I proposed, and she said yes! =D
We were also curious to hear what Joy thought, especially since her own artwork was used as a reference for her special ring’s design:
The ring is extra special to me. I know Mark was very concerned about impressing me and my family, knowing that we have a few jewelers in the family. I wish I were one who could let her boyfriend pick whatever he wants, but my background as an artist and jeweler didn’t allow that. But I didn’t want to pick the ring myself. And that put a lot of burden on Mark.
Nonetheless, Mark did an awesome job paying so much attention and valuing my preferences. I didn’t expect him to show you my own art to use as the inspiration. His thoughtfulness led him to you, and you’ve done a great job helping him meet my expectations. As someone who’s done commissions for other people, I appreciate the talent, skills, and professionalism you have shown. The more I look at the ring, the more I like it! Thank you!
We’re so happy Joy loved her ring, and we’re glad we were able to help Mark make a good impression! We wish this lovely couple a lifetime of happiness together!!
He already owned a square ring that was very comfortable so, since he and his fiancée Susan lived in Los Angeles, they decided to visit our office to show Takayas the square ring and discuss the design of his custom wedding band in person.
During the meeting, Takayas suggested incorporating the couples’ initials (JLE and SAW) into the band’s design. They loved this idea and decided to take a little time to brainstorm additional concepts that they would like Takayas to work with. A few days later, Jose Luis and Susan emailed us inspiration images of an Aztec stone carving and the Hecho en Mexico eagle.
Based on these inspiration images, Takayas decided to create a pattern on the ring that would bring to mind a detailed Aztec stone carving. The central element of the pattern, which is repeated on each side of the square ring, is actually their initials! He created stylized letters and then mirrored them to create a unique pattern.
To finish the pattern, Takayas added nine tiny eagle heads on either side of the initials, also mirror reversed for continuity.
Jose Luis and Susan loved how Takayas had interpreted their concepts, and only had one request: to flip half of the eagle heads so “the 4 left-most eagles face left, the 4 right-most eagles face right”. Since there were originally nine eagle heads, Jose Luis asked that a diamond shape replace the one in the center.
Takayas created a new CAD rendering to reflect this request, and the couple approved the design to be printed in wax in preparation for casting. However, while Takayas was finalizing the design for printing, he was inspired to play around with the design a little more and slightly enlarged each eagle head so that the diamond shape was no longer necessary. Jose Luis and Susan agreed with this revision, which became the final design.
Photographs of the finished ring (eight eagles, no diamond shape):
Jose Luis and Susan are now happily married, and Jose Luis recently sent us a lovely testimonial to share with you:
“It was a pleasure working with Takayas right from the start. The production of our custom ring was very much a collaborative effort. Both my wife and I had ideas which we brought to Takayas and he was expertly able to incorporate our ideas while providing suggestions of his own to enhance our ring. I have received many positive compliments on the ring’s excellent craftsmanship and detail. Takayas’ process was great, from seeing the CAD design to a model of the ring was great. It further helped us visualize the ring as it slowly came to life. We would highly recommend Takayas.”
Takayas continues to be inspired by the themes of Kingdom Hearts, adding a few more ring designs to his wedding collection.
Two of the latest design additions were inspired by Kingdom Hearts 3D: Dream Drop Distance. Takayas loves the concept of the Nightmare Break and Mirage Split reality shift keyblades, how they bring Riku and Sora together from their separate dream worlds to form an enormous combined keyblade that allows them defeat their most difficult enemies and obstacles together.
Even though the wielders of these reality shift keyblades are friends, not romantic partners, this concept of a strong bond that conquers all translates perfectly to a pair of wedding bands: one in white gold to represent Riku’s Mirage Split keyblade, and the other in yellow gold to represent Sora’s Nightmare Break (aka Nightmare’s End) keyblade.
The two individual keyblades are nearly identical but, aside from the color difference, you’ll notice that the design of the handle guard is different for each keyblade: the design of the Nightmare Break’s guard points up, while the Mirage Split’s guard design points down. Takayas used this same design tactic to differentiate between the two rings, hugging each keyblade’s half-heart and stained glass “teeth” with their respective guard design.
These rings were designed to represent a strong bond between two people, making them ideal for wedding rings or even friendship rings. Of course, if made in the same size, these two rings will fit together to form a “combined keyblade” ring so, it’s understandable if you simply want to order both for yourself!
Another recent addition to our Kingdom Hearts wedding collection is a men’s version of the Oathkeeper wedding ring. Takayas increased the proportions of the ladies’ ring to fit a man’s finger, changed it to an all-white design, and switched out the sparkling white accent diamonds for the more masculine look of black diamonds. (Of course, we do know some men love a little sparkle so, this could be made with white diamonds too.)
When Jonathan and Rachel first began their relationship, they were living several thousand kilometers apart and so a lot of their quality time together was experienced through technology and video games.
Final Fantasy XIV was one of their favorite games to play together; Rachel would always play the Arcanist/Scholar character, and Jonathan usually played as a Paladin. ” We’re sort of a perfect healer+tank match.” Jonathan told us.
Although Rachel usually plays as a Scholar, she also has the ability to play as a Summoner (both are jobs of the Arcanist base class) and absolutely adores the Summoner’s pet carbuncle! Jonathan told us she even owns both of the plushy carbuncles (Emerald and Topaz) and, “if Square Enix were to ever allow Carbuncles to be glamoured over her [Scholar’s] fairies, I think she would do so.”
“Knowing that Rachel loves carbuncles (and real cats and dogs),” Jonathan explained, “I thought that an engagement ring highlighting the things she enjoyed in a game that we’ve spent hours playing together would be ideal. I wanted something simple, yet elegant. A design that at a distance looked like a masterly crafted piece of jewelry but, on closer inspection, had subtle meaningful elements that would remind her of our bond.”
Jonathan requested that the center stone be a cushion-cut shape, to represent the book weapon of the Scholar. He also suggested having two abstract carbuncles wrapped around the center stone. Takayas played with this idea but, ultimately, the center stone would need to be round for this idea to work and it would have seriously crowded the side stones (plus, Takayas loved the idea of the cushion-cut representing the book weapon.)
So, Takayas took the “two abstract carbuncles” idea in a different direction, instead forming the entire ring out of their bodies. As Jonathan requested, at first glance the ring simply looks like an elegant sapphire and diamond engagement ring. However, upon closer inspection, you’ll notice the abstract forms of the two carbuncles.
The two small pear shaped diamond accent stones represent the head of each carbuncle, their abstract bodies wrap around either side of the ring to create the shank, with their 3-pointed tails meeting underneath the center stone.
“I wanted the two carbuncles to represent our individual and unique personalities.” Jonathan said. “The center sapphire was a form of “bond” between us.” And, regarding the design change from using the carbuncles around the center stone to using them to form the ring itself, “I loved it. It fulfilled the idea of two distinct lives coming together as one, and wrapping completely around the band made me think of love being eternal.”
When asked what he thought about his ring once he saw it in person, Jonathan told us, ” I was stunned. I had seen the ring in pictures before it arrived, but they really didn’t do the ring justice. When I had the ring in my hand, I just didn’t know what to say. It was beautiful, and everything I had hoped it would be.”
Jonathan proposed to Rachel on a trip to Athens, Italy. That sounded incredibly romantic, so we just had to ask for a description: “The proposal was quiet and personal. Neither of us is big on public places or large crowds. Rachel came to visit me in Athens and I reserved rooms at a hotel near the Acropolis. The room I reserved had a balcony where you could look out at the city, and the Acropolis. I proposed on that balcony. The place is symbolic for history, and now both of us share a piece of history with this ancient site.”
And, when we asked about Rachel’s reaction to the surprise, Jonathan quipped, ” I sometimes refer to Rachel as my little detective or Sherlock Holmes. She admitted that she suspected I may have worked with Takayas, but she didn’t know exactly what I was planning or anything about the design. She was ecstatic about the ring, and its beauty. When I pointed out the hidden meaning, her reaction told me the ring was perfect.”
We really enjoyed creating this special engagement ring for Jonathan and Rachel and wish the happy couple a future of wedded bliss!
When Iain began his search for the perfect ring to ask for Amanda’s hand in marriage, he wanted something simple yet different, ideally a Japanese design that would remind her of their wonderful trips to Japan together. (Their joint fascination with Japanese history, literature, art, food, and language, inspired two trips to Japan within one year!)According to Iain, “After a few initial choices of jewelers, including some in Japan, I still had some reservations. I found Takayas Custom Jewelry online and looked through his creations. I found one covered in Hibiscus flowers and petals/leaves on the other side. Not only did I enjoy the asymmetry of it, but I was dumbfounded that I had found something I enjoyed looking at that was not just a simple design. I decided to go for it because there was something in the designs that made me trust the artist; I got ahold of Takayas and the rest is history.”
Iain decided he wanted something similar to the hibiscus ring that had grabbed his attention, and discussed with Takayas the idea of creating an asymmetrical design with cherry blossoms instead, with an engraving of the Japanese hiragana characters for their initials, A and I. Takayas also suggested adding small pink sapphires to the center of each cherry blossom to represent the color of the sakura flower.
Cherry blossoms were chosen as the main element of the design because Iain and Amanda both appreciate Japan’s reverence toward them; a reverence which has inspired cultural themes like mono no aware, “the awareness of impermanence,” emphasized by the windblown petals swirling around the ring.“To me,” Iain said, “these flowers on the ring represent change, as this was a major step in my life that I did not foresee years ago.”
“Although the idea of change may be associated with negative thoughts and feelings in relation to the passing of moments, Spring will inevitably arrive and on that occasion one should cherish the sight of these captivating flowers.” Iain explained poetically, “This juncture in our lives is to be treasured just like the bloom of the Sakura. However, the absence of these flowers shouldn’t just be centered on the present gone astray but should also remind us that the journey through the seasons is filled with just as much enjoyment, celebration, and distraction as Springtime.”
“Whenever I look at her ring, look up towards her, and see her smile at me, I think not only of the process of commissioning and production of a gorgeous ring but I see that it represents years of love and many years to come.”
We enjoyed working with Iain to create such a meaningful engagement ring, and were thrilled when he let us know that Amanda had said “Yes!” He also told us, “she loves it and hasn’t taken it off since!” We’re so glad she loves her special ring and wish the couple a lifetime of happiness together!
Last week, we shared a special Kingdom Hearts inspired wedding ring that was made for our returning client, Sabrina. This week, we reveal her soon-to-be husband’s wedding band!
Robert’s custom wedding band is based on the Oblivion keyblade, which is often paired with the Oathkeeper (the keyblade inspiration for Sabrina’s matching wedding ring.)
At the center of both wedding bands is the Paopu Fruit charm from the Oathkeeper keyblade, as Sabrina requested, inspired by the Kingdom Hearts legend that says, “If two people share one, their destinies become intertwined. They’ll remain a part of each other’s lives no matter what.”
The challenge of this project was to create a pair of wedding rings that looked like a matched set and yet captured the personality and style of Sabrina and Robert respectively.
As with Sabrina’s ring, elements of the keyblade are mirrored on either side of the centerpiece, which helped tie the two rings together.
The Oblivion’s bat wing hilt guard and bottom of the keyblade frame the Paopu Fruit charm, while the chain blade forms the rest of Robert’s ring. Finally, blue sapphire accents represent the blue-violet gem in the Oblivion’s hilt.
We truly enjoyed working with this lovely couple again and wish them a beautiful future together!
You may remember Robert and Sabrina from our earlier story about the Little Mermaid inspired engagement ring Takayas designed for Robert, and the sweet way he chose to propose with it.
The adorable couple returned to us to design their custom wedding rings, this time with a different Disney theme in mind: Kingdom Hearts.
(This week, we’re focusing on Sabrina’s wedding band. Be sure to check back next week to see Robert’s!)
Sabrina specifically requested that the Paopu Fruit charm from the Oathkeeper keyblade, also known as Kairi’s Waydfinder, be incorporated in both rings, because of the KH legend that says, “If two people share one, their destinies become intertwined. They’ll remain a part of each other’s lives no matter what.”
For Sabrina’s custom wedding band, Takayas used the Paopu Fruit / Wayfinder as the central element, forming the rest of the band with a mirror image of the Oathkeeper keyblade, adding accent diamonds for a little sparkle.
David had seen a previous Kingdom Hearts inspired engagement ring that Takayas created and thought his girlfriend, who is a big fan of the video game, would love to have a custom Kingdom Hearts inspired ring herself.
In David’s own words, “I had seen many of Takayas’ beautifully designed rings and only imagined having one created by him. I decided to give it a shot and at least get a quote. I am glad that I did! The staff at Takayas was very friendly and worked with me to make the ring within my budget.”
The two main elements that David requested be used as inspiration for his engagement ring design were the Oathkeeper keyblade and it’s keychain token, Kairi’s Wayfinder, which are associated with love and strong relationships.
Since David wanted his engagement ring to have an elegant look while still incorporating Kingdom Hearts elements, Takayas decided to play around with a classic solitaire style.
Takayas used the Oathkeeper as the main design basis for the ring, forming the shank out of the keyblade’s shaft and using the feathery angel wing handle to direct focus to the center stone.
The Wayfinder charm was used as the setting for the center stone, wrapping around the gem so that the tip of each Thalassa Shell became a stylized prong.
David also sent us this lovely testimonial:
“I wanted to create an elegant Kingdom Hearts inspired engagement ring incorporating the Oathkeeper and Wayfinder. Takayas captured the design I was looking for and it came out beautifully! Most importantly, my now fiancée absolutely loves the ring! It was a pleasure working with Takayas and we look forward to working with him again for our wedding rings.”
We’re so happy that David’s now-fiancée, Sharon, loves the ring that he asked us to design specifically for her!
Since Sharon is a Disney fan, David decided to pop the question at The Happiest Place On Earth: Disneyland! We love how he customized his ring box with Kairi’s Wayfinder, don’t you? We wish this adorable couple a lifetime of happiness, and look forward to creating their special wedding rings!