"The big difficulty of designing them is making something work aesthetically at that scale," he said. "You can't just take the tire and make it that small, which was like the very first prototype I did," he said. "I took something, and I took all the measurements and made it exact, and you couldn't see anything. It didn't look right. You have to stylize it somewhat."
Mr. Bergeron noted all of his designs so far are non-specific, fitting a "general theme" for the style of vehicle. "To people in the industry they probably look a little more specific, but I think the general public doesn't look that closely."
The next step, which he recently established with Interco Tire Corp., was to form a licensing agreement to use real tire designs.
"Their Super Swamper TSL/Bogger tire has been the most requested tread for me to make," he said. "I felt that I couldn't simply do a tire type to fit this area because Interco's design was so distinct. I also didn't want to just make a specific tire without permission because we respect intellectual property. So we will be making that tread as well as another less aggressive truck tread of theirs."
For both the tire and jewelry manufacturing, the types of compounds that go into making a product greatly impact the quality.
Tire Rings can be ordered in sterling silver, palladium, 10- and 14-karat white gold and yellow gold, 18-karat yellow gold and platinum.
"We go with precious metals for a number of reasons," Mr. Bergeron said. "We think that precious metals are great. I love them. I think the color, the feel, the weight and the density have been appealing for thousands of years for a reason.
"I think the jewelry market for men has changed a lot. When people look at making a decision for a wedding ring for example, or another piece of jewelry, it's a material decision as opposed to anything else," he continued. "Often times people will buy something online without ever having felt the material."
Rising raw material costs have had an impact on pricing, Mr. Bergeron added.
"When I started doing this, gold was like $400 an ounce and now it's like $1,600 an ounce," he said. Silver, however, remains a very affordable $35 an ounce.
Mr. Bergeron said he soon will add two material options for his line of tire rings — cobalt and stainless steel. "We will likely start by offering them on a made-to-order basis. If they do well we would likely stock them."
Similar again to the tire industry, the number and variety of sizes can be a source of frustration.
"They are a little tricky because, rather than with a lot of jewelry where you can just make a few sizes, the tread goes all the way around uninterrupted. You can't just cut a piece out and size it," he said.
"You can stretch it a little bit. The sizes are slightly adjustable because we use precious metals, but if I'm going to have a range of five to 15 and all of the half-sizes, you have to make a lot of original models and a lot of molds.
"It's a big endeavor for me as a small business to undertake, but otherwise I would have a lot more styles," he continued. "It really doesn't take that much for me to develop a style, to design it. What takes a lot of time is all that other stuff."
Much more frustrating, though, are the knock-off competitors that have cropped up since Mr. Bergeron launched his company, he said.
"It's hard to protect intellectual properties," he said. "…I have a trademark, but there's no prohibition on Google search terms to use."
According to Mr. Bergeron, what separates his company from many of the other tire tread jewelry makers is the design process. "(Mine) are not blanks that are engraved. That gives me the ability to give a wider range of shapes in the profile and in the dynamic nature of the tread…. (Tires) have wide to thin areas, and they have a variety of geometries in there.
"I see a lot of blanks engraved," he continued. "Some of the knock-offs, it seems like that's what they do because they only have two profiles…. To some people it doesn't matter, but to me it's not just a plastic molded chair you're going to buy at Wal-Mart—it's just a chair and you don't really care about it. To me it's a personal object."
Mr. Bergeron said another benefit of his licensing agreement with Interco is that it will make it much more difficult for competitors to copy his work.
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