Retina-Konzept: Making of


Stefan Wacha – mein Weg zur Entdeckung des Retina-Konzepts (under construction)


My career path was not the straightest. I came from my home country Austria to Switzerland in 2000, in order to do a PhD in neurobiology. The plan was that after 3 years and a PhD in my pocket, I would return to Vienna and get a job in research.

Well, life obviously had other plans with me, otherwise I wouldnt be here now writing this story. 🙂


I was always fascinated by nature, loved to do experiments and spend countless hours at the microscope analyzing nerve cells. I was mesmerized by the complex magic that kept our nervous system, a truly beautiful machinery, running.

After obtaining my doctorate degree, I started working for a big Pharma company and although it was interesting and challenging, I felt that something was missing, I didnt feel fulfilled in my career. Around that time, I had just married and helped my wife start her own goldsmith store in Basel/Switzerland, and so I got a free peak into the creative industry.

That was when I discovered 2 novel things I enjoyed doing: creative jewelry design and entrepreneurship. We started this business from scratch, did almost everything by our own and surely did some beginners mistakes. But on the whole, it all seemed to work out well and we grew fast. Soon I quit my safe job in the pharma industry which really was a difficult decision as I knew once I went that way, it was impossible to return to my old job, should I fail at the new one.

But I decided to take the risky path of doing something completely different than I was trained for 15 years. I told myself, i have only 1 life. Why continue with something known that might be comfortable and pays the bills, but wouldn’t make me happy? Spoiler alert: I did not regret it.

We really started on a low budget but both my wife any myself aimed from the beginning to serve customers individually and offered custom-made jewelry that sold extremely well, and the growth curves clearly pointed upwards. I attended many special courses, learned ancient goldsmith-techniques by which our jewelry palette’s quality was greatly enhanced, and also was trained in computer aided jewelry design.

When we started to focus more on wedding rings, it soon became clear that also here, we were not interested in normal designs basically every jeweler offered in his collection.

We loved seeing the fascination and appreciation in our customer’s eyes whenever we created something unique for them, so the very personal touch to both our service and our products proved to be well chosen ingredients for our success.


By that time we were quite successful and had a well-established wedding ring sortiment. But somehow, again, I was not completely satisfied. I knew, our customers were happy, but somehow I always thought, as unique as our handmade rings were – I could have sold them to anyone. It just wasn’t customized ENOUGH.

I felt I wanted to create something that was to be worn only by one person, that had a direct, distinctive and unique meaning imprinted. Clearly, an engraved name was by far not enough. Fingerprints had been done already, but to me, always had a forensic association, very unromantic. But I could understand from where it originated. People wanted to express their individuality, wanted to give a personal touch to this piece of jewelry that was to connect you forever with your partner. We even did lifelines of the palm but it sort of lacked definition clarity. Sound waves are a modern idea as well, but did not match my own aesthetic standard.

What I was looking for was a personal yet aesthetic kind of personal signature.

That’s where my biological side reappeared, and all of a sudden it was so clear what we needed: The retina! It is ultra-personal, in the way that its unique as a fingerprint, yet much more beautiful. When you see it first it reminds you of roots or branches of a tree, and there can be interesting crossings of vessels, wrapped around each other, resembling embracements, even hearts or other shapes.

I was super-excited and felt right from the start that this could be it. Also, the eye is said to be the window to the soul. And what could fit better for a wedding ring than a pattern of this beautiful structure sitting right at the junction of our outer visible world and our inner world, where optical cues enter the brain – via the retina!

If you think about all these points, I still wonder that I was the first in the world to discover that these two parts – retina and jewelry would be amazing to team up together.

But then again, I was still at the initial concept stage and we had to get our hands on actual retina images. I remember I was so excited I closed our shop (during official opening hours) and went to a large optician not far away. I spoke to the manager and he was intrigued by the idea but didn’t have the right instrument to capture these images. But he gave me the address of a specialist, whom I contacted right away by email. He answered instantly and I will never forget his words (breathtakingly beautiful idea) – he was all in to partner up with me and we started taking images of mine and my wife’s retina.

The designing took longer than I thought because it turned out that for various technical reasons, a lot of image processing was necessary for the images to be useable. But it was fun and I was used to do experiments from my first career and after quite some fails we started getting results that made us confident this could really work. I felt like a gold-digger!


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