Mike Carroll doesn’t seem like a jewelry designer kind of guy – he drives tractors, trucks, Harleys and Mooneys. In fact, he designed his first ring in the cockpit at 24,000 feet.
Carroll came up with the idea to create rings with an eagle motif about a dozen years ago during a flight between Chicago and a small town in Florida. “I used to fly the Chicago/Florida route on a regular basis,” he said. “As most pilots would agree, long flights are really ‘hours of boredom punctuated by moments of terror.’ I actually sketched my first design during one of those flights – the boring part.”
He made his first ring for himself. His business took off as family and acquaintances responded to his ring. Without a formal education in jewelry design, he enrolled in classes and worked with some of Chicago’s top jewelry crafters and designers.
An Illinois native, Carroll’s jewelry line is limited to 28 rings, incorporating a variety of eagles styled after well-known Americana. Many of his designs were inspired from the eagles found on bank buildings, post offices, old coins and badges.
“I’ve always been interested in symbols of the United States,” he said. “I started to frequent antique stores looking for images of eagles from old currency and historic military buttons. I picked up an old police badge in Florida from the turn of the 19th century that appealed to me.” The ring he named “Liberty” features an eagle similar to the one depicted on that badge.
Rings range in price from $168 to $1,465. Carved in the lost wax method of casting, they are molded into a single piece of metal in 10, 14 or 18-karat solid gold or sterling silver. The rings are solid, without the glued add-ons or screws commonly found with other heavy emblematic jewelry designs on the market. “I didn’t want my work to look like typical high-school rings,” he said. “I wanted to make miniature sculptures that people could wear every day as a tribute to the history, culture and heritage of the United States.”
Since each ring is custom made to a customer’s exact size and specifications, Carroll does not mass-produce his eagle rings. His turn-around time is about two to three weeks. All of his original designs (with a new model in the works) are copyrighted and registered in the US Library of Congress.
He sells the rings directly from his studios in the northern suburbs of Chicago and from his website, EagleRings.com.
For more information: 847-821-1333.