Some people prefer to wear their jewelry on necks, fingers, and ears — others, on their teeth. Enter the grills trend; grills, a type of jewelry worn over the teeth, first garnered attention with hip-hop celebrities and have been growing in popularity. Now you don’t even have to be a hip-hop mogul to rock the trend. Jonathan Rakhsha, a Toronto-based entrepreneur and jewelry designer, is revolutionizing the way we adorn our teeth with Toronto Grillz. Discover how Jonathan got his start in this unique realm of jewelry design, built his following, and get tips for wearing your very own grills.
We love how you found such a unique niche within the jewelry making business. How did Toronto Grillz get started’
I started Toronto Grillz as an experiment while I was in my second last semester of a three-year program in jewelry design at George Brown College in Toronto. I created the Instagram account (@TorontoGrillz) and began to promote my product even before I learned how to make them. I used the app to follow people who I believed would be interested in Grillz and systematically built a following. As soon as I learned how to produce gold teeth, I had a small audience and, in no time, a few willing customers.
What advice would you give to someone who was trying to break into the jewelry business?
Make what you imagine, follow your instincts and be brave with your work. Take chances and use the public to learn about the market.
Your customers have the option to place custom orders. What’s the most unusual request you’ve received’
Yes, my entire business is built around custom work. I wouldn’t say anything unusual, but I found it unusual that a young man came to me after his mother passed away and gave me complete creative control over a necklace he wanted made to commemorate her life. Her name was Rose, and the family had strong Christian values. I made a cross pendant out of six individual roses. The pendant was made from 18k rose gold, and in the center of each rose, I set a pink sapphire. My client nearly broke down when he saw what I made. This was very unusual to me and special because I saw the potential my art has to impact people. Jewelry is very spiritual.
Let’s talk about female clientele. Do you get many women coming in? Is there a certain design or color that you recommend for women wearing grillz?
I have a ton of female clients — when grillz came back into fashion I was getting calls non-stop. One of my very first clients was a women named Jessy; she asked for a row of six teeth to cover the bottom row. This is a very subtle design that can be worn with anything. It’s great because it doesn’t draw too much attention since its mostly hidden by the bottom lip. It’s a very elegant approach to what’s often considered to be a very loud statement.
I’m embarking on a few projects with clothing brands, designing jewelry with their logos and collaborating. My luxury jewelry line, Maíson Raksha, is taking up most of my energy now. In the field of grillz, I am in the process of partnering with some dental practices to expand the number of products I can offer, using dental technologies.
What’s the most memorable moment from your career?
When I put the Toronto Grillz logo up on the window of my temporary storefront shop at Queen and Spadina, summer of 2014. This was only three months after leaving school to pursue my vision.
Where do you find inspiration for your designs?
They come to mind immediately. I don’t do any sketching or searching for design inspiration. Before [getting into jewelry design], I have been an artist since I was a child — drawing, carpentry, sculpture. I’ve never struggled with designer’s block — I’ve got ideas that will keep me busy well into 2020.
Who would you love to see wearing your designs?
Ellen DeGeneres, Zoe Kravitz, Floyd Mayweather, The Royal Family.
Is there a particular piece or design from your collection that you’re most proud of?
I recently made a grill which spans eight teeth on the bottom row. It is made of 28k white gold and was hand set with 188 white diamonds in the pavé method.
Quickfire Question series:
The Jays or the Leafs?
White gold or yellow gold (or other gold)?
Fame or money?