On the Job: Jeweler

Todd Reed talks about his inspiration, methods, and life as a jewelry designer.

Authored by Jenna Walters

Photo by Marc Piscotty

“My greatest inspiration is always love,” says local jewelry maker Todd Reed, explaining his unique approach to design. “Creating is about passion.” It’s an ethos clearly visible in the Boulder resident’s work, which pioneered a process of using raw, upcycled, and ethically sourced materials to achieve luxury designs that have been featured in more than 35 books and sold to clients around the world. We caught up with Reed to ask about his inspiration, methods, and life as a designer.

When did you become passionate about jewelry design?
”It started very early. As a kid, I always liked to keep my hands busy. At 17, I took a job as a leathersmith making clothing. One day, my boss asked me to make a silver concho for pants and purse closures. I just loved it! The first time I drove a piece of steel into a piece of silver I was hooked on making jewelry.”

Can you describe one of your most meaningful pieces?
A Peaceful Place is a large sculptural locket. It’s a transformative piece that happened while I was going through my divorce. I allowed myself to suffer during that time and through that suffering came great beauty. The piece is diamond-encrusted and looks like a teardrop, but you open it up and there’s a sitting Buddha. It took upwards of 1,000 hours to make.”

What is your process like?
”I start by drawing a design and then finding stones that will fit the design. The process is very naive. When you see the sketches and then you see the finished piece, it’s almost difficult to imagine that one came from the other. All the technical stuff gets resolved when I work with my shop master and we say, ‘This should move here,’ ‘That’s going to be too heavy,’ and so forth.”

How do you source your materials?
“All our materials are recycled and upcycled. I only use one dealer, and he’s on the road all the time—in Belgium, Israel, Africa, India, Canada—trying to find stones that have a history. Everything has a story. In jewelry design, I believe the story still matters.”