Having had first-hand experience of the handiwork of Tiago Jewellery when having a bespoke, Sheffield steel ring lovingly crafted in their Kelham Island studio back in 2014 – and being blown away by the craftsmanship, professionalism and all-round wonderfulness of the service we received – we thought it high time for a visit to their showroom and workshop on Abbeydale Road for a chat with the man himself, David Raynes, about all things Tiago.
Tell us a little bit about how and why you started Tiago.
I started Tiago in 2008 after facing redundancy from the UK’s largest wholesaler. I was part of the model-making team that made original patterns to be sent to factories to be mass-produced – it was a highly skilled process and not one normally undertaken by traditional jewellers.
It was the start of the recession so I took employment at a Nottingham-based jewellers while I got established, and while I was working there they were voted one of the UK’s top 10 independent jewellers. I started with a workshop close to Kelham Island and steadily grew the business.
You offer a bespoke jewellery design service for people who want a piece that’s entirely unique, can you tell us about this process from start to finish.
The way we go about making a unique piece of jewellery is dictated by the design. Using traditional wax or pewter, carving by hand, silver model-making, goldsmithing and the latest CAD design and 3D printing technology, we can create computer-generated images to show you what your finished piece will look like.
We then cast your item into the metal required, polish the piece and set the gemstones. Bespoke items usually take four to six weeks but we can make items in less than a week by utilising 3D printing if required urgently.
How does Sheffield’s heritage influence your work?
I’m Sheffield born and bred. I’ve lived here all my life and I’m proud of the metal work heritage that Sheffield has. I also started my working career on a Sheffield Forgemasters YTS.
I recently started making Sheffield steel wedding bands and cuff links, even inlaying locally sourced gritstone from Stanage Edge, the area’s historical source for grinding wheels. I’ll also be creating a new website – The Sheffield Wedding Ring Company.
You’re the first jewellers in Sheffield to use 3D printing in your design process. As technology inevitably advances, do you think you’ll ever stop using traditional methods of jewellery-making in favour of utilising new methods?
I’ve worked with CAD technology for approximately fifteen years and the way we undertake design and manufacture has changed hugely, while traditional techniques are still used and often difficult to recreate in CAD I don’t think there will be a computer programme or machine that can ever replace a skilled craftsman 100%. Even the CAD programme is only as good as the operator but I’ve learnt to embrace new technology and I’ve seen labour times drastically reduced through its use and the savings can then be passed on to the customer.
You’re a Made in Sheffield licence holder, how has the Mark benefited your business?
All of the Sheffield steel products and packing are branded with the Made in Sheffield logo, customers associate the mark with quality and it gives the customer confidence and pride in the product.
And finally, tell us about the most unusual piece of jewellery that you’ve been asked to design.
Throughout my career I’ve made some unusual items, from F1 cars and Samurai warriors, to skeletons and skull and crossbones, but I was asked at a wedding fair by a gent who had found difficulty in having his wedding ring made. He’d purchased a titanium fan blade from Concorde and wanted it making into a three-sided triangular wedding band to resemble the propeller of a Spitfire! He was very happy with the finished ring and you can see it on my Facebook page – Tiago Jewellery.
Interview by Felicity Jackson
Images courtesy of Tiago Jewellery