Gregg at his bench.

We have some pretty amazing associates here at Rio. Award-winning jewelers, manufacturing gurus who can build machines that do just about anything, savvy marketing experts—you just never know who you are going to run into in the halls around here. So we’ve decided to kick-off a series called Rio Superstars, so we can introduce you to some of these amazing—and amazingly friendly—folks.

Gregg Burgard joined our tech team a year and a half ago after a long career as a director of product development at a sterling manufacturer. His glasswork is jaw-droppingly intricate and beautiful. He won first place and the People’s Choice Award at the Glass Expo in Las Vegas earlier this year and just took the best in show award at the All That Glitters design competition hosted by the New Mexico Jewelers Association. While he is most well-known for his glass work, he also holds the patents on several innovative jewelry findings (including the interchangeable ring design you can see below). With so much industry and bench experience, he has become a vital member of our tech team.

Gregg holds four patents on jewelry findings. This interchangeable bead ring is the most popular!

And we aren’t the only ones who love his work! Ornament magazine featured Gregg and his glasswork in this month’s issue.

Gregg and I recently sat down and discussed his process and approach. Take a look:

Heather Apodaca: What’s your favorite thing about working at Rio?

Gregg Burgard: I like the team dynamic and the fact that everyone is so available and ready to help each other. After all, the Tools and Gems & Findings catalogs are over two inches thick—that’s a lot of information for one person to know, so we need to rely on each other, and it works.

HA: Your glass pieces are amazing. Are you working on anything new and exciting now?

GB: I am currently working on blending new color combinations, adding new gemstones, and adding more precious metal into my glass. I would also like to create more mechanical jewelry that moves and does things.

Gregg’s Halloween-inspired glass Frankenstein bead with sterling neck bolts and a silver bail.

HA: Where does the inspiration for your glass designs come from?

GB: The primary inspiration for my glass design would be Lalique, and some of the other Art Nouveau period designers.

HA: How cool is it to see your work in the new issue of Ornament?!

GB: This is VERY cool! I have paid for advertising, but this is really the first thing that has been written about me personally (and it’s certainly the longest).

HA: What’s your favorite thing about making jewelry?

GB: I have two things that are favorites about making jewelry. The first is when I finish a piece, I like to take a few minutes and compare it to the mental idea of what I wanted it to look like before I started. Sometimes it’s different, sometimes it’s better, sometimes I can’t believe that I made it. My second favorite thing is when a customer looks at the piece—that is true validation, and kind of completes the creation-sales cycle.

Curious to see more? You can go to the Ornament website to check out their feature on Gregg Burgard and read even more about his work.

Also, keep watching The Studio for upcoming spotlights on other Rio Superstars! Coming in November: A spotlight on Yvonne M. Padilla!