Interview with Jeff McWhinney – Innovative Titanium Ring Designer

TG-3-group

There is an exciting new innovator in the field of titanium rings for men. His name is Jeff McWhinney. Remember this name. He’s doing some great things with titanium, in the form of wedding rings for active guys. They are called Active Rings by McWhinney Designs. These rings are highly engineered, high performance mechanical pieces hand made by Jeff himself. I really appreciate the level of precise craftsmanship that goes into his rings. Something not often seen nowadays.

Jeff’s rings continue to gain popularity with guys who are into techy design and function. Notice how the rings hinge open to allow the ring to go on and off easily. This allows for a precise fit on the finger. Without the hinging, some guys with big knuckles end up buying a ring that is really too large, just to get it over the knuckles. Then it’s uncomfortable because the ring is too wide on the finger.

In our jewelry store, Yates & Co Jewelers, we’ve sold and installed hinged shanks in 14K gold for years. Mainly on ladies engagement or wedding rings where the lady has arthritic knuckles. But the gold hinges loosen up in just a few short years. (Remember gold is a very soft metal.) Well that won’t happen with titanium hinges. Should be tight forever.

Another benefit of Jeff’s hinged rings is their safety factor. Imagine this scenario: You are playing ball and inadvertently sprain your ring finger on the field. Your finger immediately swells up. Now your wedding band won’t come off. So you have to go to the emergency room where they cut it off. Typically after the ER personnel cut the ring off it’s mangled and not repairable. However, with these McWhinney Design rings you simply unbuckle the hinge and remove the ring. No trip to the ER.

I reached out to Jeff and asked him a few questions so our audience could get to know him and his new company.

JR: Jeff, tell us a little bit about your background.

Jeff: I grew up in Marin County, California (which is the birthplace of the mountain bike by the way) and as an athlete/machinist/designer, I’ve been closely involved in a lot of interesting bicycle evolution projects. My middle career I spent many years in micro-structure at 3M, and precision optics research at Tinsley Laboratories. During this time I became attunedto making things really small and really precise. Which… combined with the need to make myself a wedding ring, eventually got me on my current path.

JR:What inspired you to design these active rings?

Jeff:For most of my life I’ve wanted to use my particular skill set to create a worthwhile product, unique to the world. I’ve tried full suspension bicycles, off-road skateboards, race training devices and several other things. Most of these ideas unfortunately always seemed to have one fatal flaw or another, often high liability.

While designing my own wedding ring I really started contemplating this ubiquitous and important item that other than some more recent material changes (titanium, cobalt, carbon fiber), has had little or no innovation for hundreds of years. And, its always been a pet peeve of mine that the woman always gets the cool, valuable ring, while the guy gets the afterthought, boring metal band.

But mostguys don’t want a blingy diamond on their ring, its not our thing. What we do want (or the guys I know that gladly spend thousands on a cool bicycle) is something that is functional, well made and kinda trick (so they can show it off to their buddies).

JR: I agree with you. Most men’s rings on the market are boring, uninteresting I like what you said about “kinda trick”. Us guys love to show off cool gadgets.

Jeff: They sayinvention is about problem solving. Why do All women wear their wedding rings, but many men don’t? It’s not because men always want to appear available. I asked a lot of men and the answers are- it doesn’t fit well, its uncomfortable and/or it interferes with my work/play (tradesmen and/or athletes). My rings address these issues- they open so you can own a ring that fits you properly (men often buy oversized because they need to fit over a knuckle), they are low profile, and on some models contoured, to make them both comfortable and to minimize catching on things (hand in pocket). But, most importantly, the man can take his ring on and off easily, addressing the comfort and safety issues related to work and play.

JR: So what do these rings cost?

Jeff: First of all I have to tell you that each of my rings is made one at a time. They are not mass produced, there is a lot of engineering and labor that goes into ring. Prices are from $825 to $3750- the range being directly linked to the complexity of manufacture (quantity and intricacy of ring pieces/CNC programming/assembly/finish work). And the addition or exclusion of precious metals and gemstones. My two $825 “machine finish” rings (TG3 and TG4) are currently my most popular and are the designs I am working towards stocking.

JR: How would you describe the style of your rings? When I look at them I get an industrial feel to them.

Jeff: Yes, my rings have an industrial look to them. That is my preferred aesthetic, and is a result of them being designed in CAD and created using state of the art machining techniques and equipment. I can theoretically design more organic shapes (and probably will), but it is not my current priority.

JR: So with your initial success, what’s ahead for McWhinney Designs?

Jeff: Iwas just recently able to “quit my day job”. This frees me up to pursue some of the other things rolling around in my head. I eventually intend to offer what is known in bicycle world as a “gruppo”- a set of aesthetically matching male-oriented accessories. In order of likely creation- eyeglass frames, watch, adjustable money clip, belt buckle (that does something).

JR: Very cool ideas. I can’t wait to see what you come up with!

To view Jeff McWhinney’s rings visit www.mcwhinneydesigns.com

Jeff McWhinney

 

 

Come on, help a brother out. Share this post.

comments powered by Disqus