Ron Hartgrove was born in Big Spring, Texas. He began his career in the jewelry business at the early age of eight. His father, Winston Hartgrove, was a watchmaker and he put Ron to work in his store doing simple ring sizings, soldering of charms, and the disassembly of manual wind watches for cleaning and repair. The leisure time during Ron's teenage years was spent learning and developing advanced design and bench skills.
After graduation from high school, Ron decided to travel throughout Europe to study in the world of artisans, designers and craftsmen. His studies were cut short when he was called back to the United States by the draft.
After serving in the United States Air Force, Ron turned his attention to the study of art history. He attended the University of St. Thomas in Houston while continuing to work in the jewelry business. He learned to cut acetate masters while working for a class ring company, did repair work for Corrigan's Jewelers, and then worked for Raymond Taylor doing jewelry repair and custom design work. In 1972, Ron graduated from the University of St. Thomas with a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in the fields of studio painting and art history.
Ron's paintings were shown at the University of St. Thomas, Rice University and the Louisiana Gallery. He became acquainted with international art collectors Dominique and Jean de Menil who commissioned and own eight of his works, which are now part of their permanent collection at the Menil Art Museum in Houston. During the early to mid 70's, Ron was instrumental in forming 'The Mandala Group'. This was a team of five artists dedicated to the expression of philosophical ideas through the vehicle of the Mandala using abstract, eight point symmetry, in flat color planes in oil paint on canvass. Their works were shown at the Newport Harbor Art Museum in California in 1974, the Contemporary Arts Museum Houston in 1975, and at NASA (National Aeronautics and Space Administration) in Clear Lake, TX in 1976 which was cosponsored by the Contemporary Arts Museum in Houston.
During the same time period, Ron worked at Corrigan's Jewelers on Post Oak in Houston where he did custom and original design, and jewelry repair. His professional focus soon shifted from his painting to his jewelry.
Ron decided to combine his artistic skills with this technical jewelry skills, and in 1979 formed R. Hartgrove, Inc., a jewelry design and manufacturing business which offers the service of creating one-of-a-kind designs for specific individuals. His expertise in the use of metals lead him into doing much of his work with a combination of platinum and 18 Kt yellow gold. His platinum Guild Award winning earrings (1986 - 2nd Place) and his AGTA Spectrum Award winning ring (1988 - 1st Place, Division 1) both display this use of mixed metals.
Ron's heart is truly in design, and his new ideas are never-ceasing! In 1988, Ron decided to pursue his idea of creating simple and elegant rings and earrings with interchangeable stone spheres without any mechanisms or hinges; the concept of which grew from his fascination when he was a child with ink staying in ball point pens! The research and development phase was put in motion, and prototypes and models soon followed. In 1990, he incorporated Heart & Co., copyrighted his designs, and trademarked the new line as "ORBIS®" from the Latin root word, orb. The nationwide marketing began in June of 1992 at the JCK show in Las Vegas.
The line has grown tremendously since then. The ORBIS® Wildlife Collection was introduced in early 1993, the ORBIS® Petite Collection for the teenage market in the summer of 1993, and the ORBIS® & Friends Designer Sphere Collection was introduced in the Jeweler's Quarterly November/December 1993 issue. Ron initiated the ORBIS® & Friends project after Maggie Hess excitedly realized that their diamond pave "Bolita" fit into his ORBIS® rings. Ron then invited some of his fellow members of the American Jewelry Design Council and other designers to participate in "a sort of Woodstock for Jewelers". It was fun for everyone... the designers, retailers and their customers!
Ron's philosophy is that change is good, and we should never stop growing.
Jewelry is Ron's business, good design is his passion!
Copyright © 2009 Ron Hartgrove. All rights reserved.
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