Pittsburgh Pride logo design rings true with Shadyside jeweler


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The Pittsburgh Pride logo, with its interlocking gold wedding rings topped by two of the city's iconic bridges, caught Paul Michael Bierker's attention weeks ago.

Then, on Wednesday afternoon, one of his clients contacted the jewelry designer with this challenge: Make the rings a reality.

"We were instantly inspired," said Mr. Bierker on Friday, as he sat holding the finished product in The Collection, the space in Shadyside where he works and specializes in custom-made jewelry. He has taken the interlocking design and made two separate rings.

The Pride-inspired rings will be available for order from the Paul Michael Design Facebook page starting today, which also marks the start of the main events for the city's annual gay pride celebration.

A concert featuring Adam Lambert tonight and a march Sunday will both take place Downtown, where the Pittsburgh Pride banners featuring the interlocking logo are already prominent, lining the streets.

The concept of the interlocking rings -- a nod to Pittsburgh Pride's "I Wanna Marry You" theme and to the fight for gay marriage rights -- came to art director Jonathan Fobear after he went through several different versions of logos related to marriage.

Mr. Fobear, who runs a design company based on the South Side, worked with the Delta Foundation of Pittsburgh, which organizes Pittsburgh Pride, to settle on the concept of interlocking rings featuring two iconic Pittsburgh bridge designs -- the 10th Street Bridge and the general image similar to the three "sister" bridges connecting Downtown to the North Side. The reaction to the logo has been "overwhelmingly positive," he said.

"People just love it," he said. "They can't seem to get enough of it."

He said he was "just blown away" that Mr. Bierker was making his ring design into actual rings, and said he wants one himself.

Mr. Bierker is also designing other pieces featuring the interlocking bridge rings, such as pendants and cuff links. Prices will range from $75 for a pendant to $1,150 for a man's gold wedding ring, and some of the proceeds will go toward the Delta Foundation.

In the current atmosphere -- with gay marriage not permitted in Pennsylvania and the U.S. Supreme Court set to issue decisions this month that could affect the future of gay marriage across the country -- the rings carry extra symbolic weight, Mr. Fobear said.

"It would be great if this ring is made and eventually we have the right to use it and marry the person we love," he said.

The ring design, however, "transcends the issue" of gay marriage, Mr. Bierker said, since it is a piece of jewelry that could be worn by any person, gay or straight.

But Mr. Bierker, who in his work deals often in symbolism, said his most recent ring design, debuting during the Pride celebrations, is packed with additional meaning.

"We're creating a bridge to the future where all people are treated equally under the U.S. Constitution," he said. "That's it. It's flat and easy."

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Kaitlynn Riely: kriely@post-gazette.com or 412-263-1707. This story originally appeared in The Pittsburgh Press. To log in or subscribe, go to: http://press.post-gazette.com/


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