A Visit to Raiford Gallery in Roswell, Georgia

Contemporary and jewelry stores are an important breed of shopping. Yet, can often be seen as passé. While the ease of shopping online from the comfort of your own place on your computer is inviting, it definitely has its time and place.

I was reminded at the beauty to be seen in a studio shop when I visited Raiford Gallery in Roswell, Georgia. Just off their main drag of Canton Street and set in an Amish-style, 2 story barn, Raiford Gallery has been creating an array of works of art from jewelry, ceramics, paintings and household pieces since 1995.

I met Judie Raiford on a beautiful, crisp, fall afternoon. She is the type of person you instantly want to be friends with. With a bit of a resemblance to a livelier Diane Keaton, Raiford is spunky, hilarious,  loves caffeine, adores her dogs and totally embraces the often stereotypical labels that follow when you are an artist. She is eccentric and a total spitfire.

“The 60s were ending and I realized sex, drugs and rock and roll were not a career choice. Although I tried!” she jokes when asked how she got into her field.  “I became a jeweler and that’s what happened.”

A warm greeting from Judie!

With pristine glass doors and windows all around, Raiford has created one of the most sought-out jewelers and art galleries in the greater Atlanta area. And, don’t just take it from me. Through the course of her career, Raiford has racked up several awards including multiple nods from Atlanta Magazine’s “Best Of” and seven Niche Awards. The prestigious honor given to the top one hundred Handmade American Craft Retailers.

While much of the gorgeous and irresistible jewelry pieces are made by Raiford, the gallery has been home to hundreds of artists far and wide. If you’re looking to make your home more modern, Raiford Gallery will have some eclectic furniture pieces (like this chair below) that you will go ape for.

If contemporary art is your niche, you will love your choices at Raiford. From haunting photography to colorful multimedia. I particularly liked the paintings of rockers Paul McCartney and Tom Waits.

As if my visit to Raifrod Gallery could not get any better, Judie invited us to take a peek down in her “home away from home.” Raiford mentioned she’s always at the gallery.  It would explain the impressive kitchenette and coffee maker on hand when we arrived in her studio.

Being the Southern Belle she is, Raiford had lemonade and ginger snaps on hand for her IFWTWA visitors. We also got to meet her fur babies and see where all of the magic happens. It was easy to see why Judie is always at her shop–it’s a creative mind’s haven down there!

God, I love my job!” beams Raiford as she shows us one of her techniques to get the one-of-a-kind designs that happen over her silver pieces. It’s none other than a hammer. “One of my favorite hammers was made for me by a guy I met in front of Carl’s Jr. in Tucson.  At the Gem Show.  It’s the biggest the world. There was this guy with a table set up. He was a retired police Sargent and he took hammers and other tools and made them like they never were before.”

Getting to see Raiford completely in her element; hammers, blow torches and all, was inspiring and fascinating. As a jewelry lover myself, it always makes the piece more special for me to wear when I know its back story.

With Valentine’s Day upon us, Raiford Gallery will have something for all the sweeties on your list. Whether it be your spouse, parent, friend. Make sure to pay Judie and the Raiford Gallery a visit next time you’re in Atlanta. If you won’t be near before Valentine’s Day, don’t let that stop you! Learn more about her work and inquire about an order HERE. xo

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