Leon Mege's Masterful Gramophone Ring By Jennifer Heebner
Leon Megé is no stranger to works of art. During his formative career years he worked as a bench jeweler for Henry Dunay, sometimes carving blocks of ebony into finished pieces—a technique he’s recently revisited. Last week he unveiled his new Maestro ring, crafted in the likeness of turn-of-the-century phonographs, to JCK exclusively.
The darkened silver shank is a fantastic fluted homage to the turn-of-the-century phonograph horn for funneling sound, and the ring interior in 18k yellow gold features a whimsical musical note gallery whose silent melody plays for the wearer alone. Most interesting of all are the carved ebony, customizable, and interchangeable records that can be commissioned and collected over time. To date, just one is complete, studded with tiny inverted black diamonds spelling out the name of one of Megé’s (and this writer’s) fave bands, AC/DC. More are in the works—see plain ebony records inscribed simply with record grooves in the photos below—as is a gold and pavé one.
Still, this incarnation didn’t come quickly. Megé abandoned an initial idea of placing a tiny motor inside the ring to make it operational because he thought it would cheapen the concept. And the original gold screw keeping the record held snuggly in place against the gramophone base looked too much like the winding wheel on a watch, so he changed it to a pyramid shape. Finally, Megé wanted to make this piece in platinum, but the cost was just too prohibitive. “At first we did make it in platinum, but we had to melt it because it was an insane amount of metal—we just put thousands of dollars in metal into the first prototype in platinum—and then switched to silver,” he says.
For those wondering if this style is a one-of-a-kind, Megé assures that it’s not. “We hand-carved a wax model, turned it into a mold, and cast it in silver,” he explains. “So, this is not a replica yet—this is the original—but I would like to keep this and just reproduce it.”
When not in wear, the ring can perch proudly on a sterling base with an 18k gold crank arm atop a marble pedestal. The entire unit took two years to make. Inspiration hit when Megé happened upon some ebony for sale on eBay. The color reminded him of records, and he decided to re-create a record player reminiscent of old Hollywood glamour. He sees the finished creation as part jewelry, part prize. “I think it’s the equivalent of the Super Bowl ring for the musically inclined,” he muses. Megé intends to copyright the design and apply for a patent for the stamp on the bottom of the shank. And while the cost of adding this piece to your personal collection is still TBD—“it’s hard to put a price on it,” says Megé—one definite exists: the designer took third place, or bronze, in the A’Design Awards in Como, Italy, on April 14, 2013, a competition he took first place in last year.