An engineer traded computers for jewelry design to make rings with a flexible fit and 3D effects.
When Tariq Riaz’s wife became pregnant and her wedding ring didn’t fit, Riaz went on a mission to make her one that would. The onetime computer engineer who built infrastructure for IT systems spent two-and-a-half years in research and development. He studied jewelry design and manufacturing, including bench work and casting, before moving on to the Gemological Institute of America (GIA) and computer-aided design and manufacturing (CAD-CAM) classes. He finally abandoned computers altogether to pursue jewelry full time. His product? Flexible jewels, particularly rings, with proprietary stretch and spring technology that gives styles a fit like nothing else on the market.
“My rings expand up to nine sizes,” says the New York City-based designer. “Through weight gain and loss, arthritis, my rings will fit.”
Springing into action
There are already a lot of expandable rings on the market, but Riaz’s have been precisely engineered. As many know, some stretchable rings are so thick that they pinch fingers. Riaz’s bands expand 100% evenly with identical gaps and no painful squeeze, stretching from the inside out and not from side to side. Insight and technology from the medical-device industry, coupled with Riaz’s own engineering savvy and study of jewelry, helped him build his proprietary expansion mechanism for bands. Riaz is so confident of its durability, he gives it a 50-year warranty. “You’ll never have a spring problem,” he says.
And Riaz has not just one expandable mechanism but four, calling them all part of his trademarked AbrazoFIT (a word from tango dance language) family, using them in rings and bracelets. While method number one applies to the even stretch of traditional bands, No. 2 is another that expands eight sizes but then collapses or loses shape once the finger is removed. A third mechanism features individual interior springs that allow individual components to flip inside out. “You could have a ring with all rubies on one side, all emeralds on another, or alternate them to show both colors,” he says.
A final method is for rings with an overlapping bypass look; the rings contain a springy metal plate that works to accommodate up to seven sizes. These styles also have 3D effects with enamel and diamonds set at a 33-degree angle. Called Illusion rings, they are also his entry-level-price pieces starting under $5,000. And when a finger forces them to expand, the design element moves with the wearer, retaining its effect. “These rings curve and bend around the finger, while my others have a springiness,” Riaz says. “It took me 38 prototypes to achieve this snaky 3D ring.”
Doing the math
Beyond the technical brilliance of Riaz’s jewelry, motifs reflect organic themes and architecture, with some Abu Dhabi architectural influences (the line was born and is still made there), palm trees, wishbones, and others. Jewels are made in 18-karat gold with D-color, VVS-clarity diamonds. “I manufacture everything in-house,” he confirms.
Early retail praise, meanwhile, comes from London Jewelers, with stores in New York City and on Long Island. The London team met Riaz at Couture 2021, where the jeweler debuted, and has since sold some of his rings.
“We’ve seen stretchy rings before, but his are completely equidistant around the finger,” says Scott Saunders, senior vice president of business development. “Other rings morph into different looks as you rotate them. He’s engineering his jewelry and has a fresh approach.”
By: Jennifer Heebner