The regenerate eastern half of downtown Long Beach is known as the East Village Arts District. As its name suggests, the neighborhood is home to numerous artisanal boutiques, art galleries and artists ‘ lofts. The East Village besides happens to be where a shop called The Deviant Design Group ( DDG ) opened its doors in 2005. There, Mark Barata — DDG ‘s 29-year-old owner — labors at a rightfully unique art form : flowery, glistening jewelry expressly designed for professional skateboarders. You heard that correctly. Mark Barata is a jeweler whose most big clients are pro skaters. If you have always noticed sumptuously bejeweled rings, pendants, medallions, earrings, watches and chains on high-profile skateboarders like Ryan Sheckler, Rob Dyrdek and Paul Rodriguez, most of it probable originated at DDG and was personally fashioned by the Long Beach-born Barata. He is the skateboard community ‘s favored purveyor of cute gemstones. No merchant has sold more diamonds and jewels to this newly affluent Action Sports subset, catered to this demographic more assiduously, and so swiftly claimed this emerging commercial territory. If there were a Guinness Record for “ Most Diamonds Sold to Skaters ” Mr. Barata could well win it year after year. “ Danny Way. Colin McKay. P-Rod. I did stuff for Sheckler. I did all of Rob [ Dyrdek ‘s ] jewelry, ” Mr. Barata recently told with an amiable joke. “ I put together a couple ball field scantling earrings for Danny ‘s wife. I did a crowd of stuff for Chaz Ortiz. Greg Luztka. I did every single firearm of jewelry for him. I made Greg five hundred rubies on a skateboard … It ‘s been cool, you know ? ”

“ Luztka ‘s piece was one of the most fun to make because it was so many rubies, ” continued Barata. “ I believe, in total, it was 588 rubies. It ‘s an all black skateboard with all bolshevik rubies. It came out truly, truly dainty. Greg was barely like, ‘Let ‘s just go all out on this one and put as many rubies on it as we can. ‘ He loves black and loss. ”
Barata besides designed Street League ‘s 2011 diamond-encrusted backing lookout and ring fructify. other clients have included well-established brands like Red Bull, Monster and DC shoes .
The retiring southern Californian-native still skates to work, and makes a luff to tell potential customers he does not conform to democratic notions and stereotypes of what a jeweler is or should be .
“ I am in full tatted, duplicate sleeves, ” Barata said. “ I ca n’t stand going into a store and getting, like, an 80-year-old ridicule in a suit and tie trying to romance you on a rock. I ‘m not that type of guy. I about apologize on behalf of every jeweler in the worldly concern, for that. We ‘re a set unlike in that view. so when you walk into our storehouse, you ‘re not going to get that. ”
Diamonds and Rubies and Battle-Axes Are Forever
On the day of our interview Barata had just completed a battle-ax chandelier for the early professional skateboarder, MMA combatant, and radio host Jason Ellis and was preparing to deliver the ruby-accented chest of drawers decoration to Ellis, on air .
“ Jason ‘s a gnarled fellow, ” said Barata. “ He just comes up with these crazy ideas and leaves it in my hands to bring to life. A couple weeks ago he said he wanted a huge battle-ax. Super medieval and crazy. Rhodium plated and black. I made him a three feel skull ring, excessively. It ‘s called ‘The Headhunter ‘ because he ‘s an MMA fighter. ”
Barata has besides appeared in episodes of Rob Dyrdek ‘s reality television programs Rob and Big and Fantasy Factory. Dyrdek is a longtime supporter and node of Barata ‘s and was an original investor in DDG. “ I am not going to lie, ” Barata said, laughing. “ Rob Dyrdek knows a lot about diamonds. ”
Because Barata is relatively young and makes a living sell blinged out jewelry to fast be professional skaters, you might assume his favorite movie is Scarface .
You ‘d be right .
Nyjah Huston models Barata's commemorative Street League jewelry. Barata Nyjah Huston models Barata ‘s commemorative Street League jewelry .
“ The jewelry industry is the closest thing to drug dealing in the earth. There ‘s not excessively many places where you go and spend thousands of dollars on a fiddling rock. You know ? And everybody wants them. And people will kill you for jewelry. So my favorite movie growing up was Scarface, ” he said. “ Scarface is a coming-of-age fib where he came from nothing and rose to power. Every man, at one point or another, would love to be on his [ Scarface ‘s ] enthrone. ”
however for a rhombus dealer devoted to feeding the upscale skater ‘s growing addiction to opulent aesthetic objects, Barata is a surprisingly down-to-earth dandy. however, he is a fellow who was always more fascinate than most dudes by his own birthstone — you guessed it, a ball field. As a modest child he loved drawing and sketching cars and thought about becoming a cable car designer. But in high school Barata took a particular liking to metal shop. ( Barata fell even further in love with gemology when — early in his career as a retail sales associate at the Newport Beach, Calif. jewelry memory Black, Starr & Frost — he was able to hold the celebrated Archduke Joseph Diamond in his pass. The rhombus is an internally flawless and colorless stone that weighs 76.02 carats. As of this write, the Joseph Diamond was days away from being auctioned at Christie ‘s and had a first gear estimate of $ 15 million. ) From there, Barata went on to attend the Jewelry Arts and Design College, based in Los Angeles, where he finally rose to the rank and file of teacher in 3D jewelry invention .
“ I am actually the only certify teacher in California in a 3D CAD CAM software called 3D plan, ” said Barata. ( CAD and CAM are acronym for “ Computer-aided design ” and “ Computer-aided manufacture. ” )
Paul Rodriguez: Lord of the Ring
Without realizing it, I had actually encountered Mr. Barata ‘s brash, rococo art this by August in Ocean City, Maryland at a minor Mountain Dew-sponsored cocktail party featuring the immaculately well-bred guest of honor Paul Rodriguez. For about an hour Rodriguez and I sat at a private table and discussed a host of weighty issues such as his recently earned X Games gold decoration, the might of entreaty, and Muhammad Ali. Yet, I must admit, I spent much of the conversation surreptitiously marveling at the flush weightier diamond-caked little finger ring Rodriguez wear and sporadically fiddled with .
The audacious diamond-studded, 500 carat, 1,000 watt call seemed to be something entirely Rodriguez — the crown prince of mainstream skateboard — could carry off. It was a imperial accessory in truth match for a young target, AT & T, Nike and Mountain Dew-sponsored king. One ring to rule them all !

The gang was besides interesting in that it was one of the strikingly few exceptions to Rodriguez ‘s otherwise meek personal presentation. The impossibly abundant diamonds were abstractly arrayed on the ring in a way that seemed to suggest a skateboard. Was that what the ring was, a reporter wondered ? A diamond-studded skateboard ? Would n’t that be symbolic ? ( In 2008, Forbes ranked Rodriguez the seventh highest paid action sports athlete. )
Alas, this audacious reporter never mustered the courage to actually ask Rodriguez a one thing about it. I did n’t want to sound bumpkinly. I did n’t want to say something like, “ Wow, so that surely seems like a distribute of diamonds on your little finger. ” Or, “ Would you describe your ring as ‘swag ‘ ? ” Or, “ Would you mind if I try that on for a moment while I wave my arms about and call out ‘YOLO ! ‘ ‘Ride or die ! ‘ and ‘Skate life ! ? ‘ ”
fortunately, it turned out Mark Barata had — not amazingly — made Rodriguez ‘s “ downy ” little finger gang and was able to authoritatively sate a reporter ‘s curiosity regarding it .
“ Yeah, that is a completely diamond-encrusted ring and he wears it on his little finger. It has all white diamonds and then one little course of canary yellow jaundiced diamonds, ” Barata said. “ That was nine carats total. We put as many diamonds as we possibly could on it. He got that kind of as a trophy, because he had just won the Maloof Money cup, and that was a big deal for him. The jaundiced diamonds spell a ‘B. ‘The ‘B ‘ stands for plan B, his presenter. A fortune of skaters get their patronize logo. ”
“ Being a pro skater is a lot unlike than it was in the ’80s and ’90s, ” said Barata. “ The sponsors are a distribute bigger. This would have never happened 20 years ago. Tony Hawk was the one who lead the room. Times have changed. Guys are getting paid a lot more to do their art or discipline. ”
Now You (And Big Black) Have a Friend in the Diamond Business
But Rodriguez ‘s baroque closed chain is far from being the most noteworthy objet d’art Mark Barata has always made. That distinction credibly belongs to a piece of custom jewelry Barata created for Christopher “ Big Black ” Boykin — Rob Dyrdek ‘s erstwhile roommate, BFF, bodyguard and the costar of the eponymous MTV reality television show Rob and Big .
Probably Barata's most unusual piece was a laser-scanned pendant of Christopher Big Black Boykin's face. The pendant, seen here, was a gift from Mr. Dyrdek to Mr. Boykin. Barata probably Barata ‘s most unusual piece was a laser-scanned pendent of Christopher “ Big Black ” Boykin ‘s confront. The chandelier, seen here, was a endow from Mr. Dyrdek to Mr. Boykin .
“ We actually laser-scanned Big Black ‘s head and we turned it into a pendent, ” said Barata. “ It ‘s super crazy. It was an identical replica of his face. It ‘s never been done before. And I do n’t think it ‘s been done since. ”
“ It was a confront from Rob, ” continued Barata. “ He [ Mr. Boykin ] went crazy. ”
Barata besides designed Rob Dyrdek ‘s “ brake shoe chain ” — a gold necklace composed of a replica of every one of Dyrdek ‘s pro model shoes. ( The chain utilized a cypriot pound of gold. )
“ I sent every one of his shoes to Minneapolis, Minnesota and had it laser-scanned to a one-thousandth of an inch, ” said Barata. “ That is how we were able to replicate it with such preciseness. ”
*Of course, proffering diamonds and precious metals to prosperous professional skateboarders is not without inherent risk.
“ I get a fortune of banged up rings sent back, to get repaired, ” said Barata. “ I decidedly I have gotten a handful of rings that are obliterated from a fall or a spillway. ”
“ If you want to wear it when you ‘re skating, when you break it, just come back to me, ” he added. “ And I ‘ll fix it for you. ”
however, however unstable or novel the marriage between professional skateboarding and cherished gemstones may seem, there is a certain eternity, if not inevitability, to the attraction .
After all, fashion statements of this kind do not lack historical precedent.

“ In Europe before the eighteenth hundred ( in chivalric and Renaissance Europe ), men wore brassy clothe and lots of jewelry, ” Paul H. Freeman, a professor of history at Yale University who specializes in chivalric social history, relative studies of the peasantry and trade in lavishness products, said in an e-mail. “ For aristocrats of the Middle Ages [ jewelry much think of ] ‘the gods favor me. ‘ There were alleged ‘sumptuary laws ‘ that tried to regulate luxury clothe and flaunt of gems for men and women. [ The impression was ] only members of certain classes or orders had the right to wear, for exemplar, fur-trimmed garments or jeweled belts. With the growth of industry — and so a new kind of wealth — the emphasis for affluent men was on sobriety and enterprise. serviceman began dressing in blue colors, suits and although choice variations were important, they were insidious. ”
“ Rare, durable, and beautiful ; the definition applies both to athletic skill and to gems. These stones capture the imagination good as sports and athletes do, ” Stephen B. Morisseau, Director of Public Relations for the Gemological Institute of America, said in an electronic mail. “ For centuries gems have celebrated accomplishment and accomplishment in sport is no exception. ”
therefore, possibly skateboarders and diamonds can look forward to a long and beautiful future in concert .

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