Tara Kirkpatrick

Tara Kirkpatrick is a jeweller from the North-West of England. Her workshop is in Knutsford, Cheshire, where all her jewellery is expertly hand-crafted with love, skill and ingenuity, all mixed with a healthy dose of individuality. Tara’s work has been featured in galleries from Manchester, London and Glasgow to Belfast, Barcelona and San Francisco.

Tara has over 25 years’ experience working in silver, gold, platinum and all types of gemstones. Tara studied at the Birmingham School of Jewellery and London Guildhall University before spending some time teaching jewellery making in the USA before training at a Goldsmith’s studio in Warrington. Tara was also based for many years in the Manchester Craft & Design Centre as a partner in Silverlode Workshops.

Tara owns and runs a retail shop in Knutsford, Cheshire. Clarity Jewellery has been open since 2007 and is a busy independent designer-led gallery catering for a wide mix of customer needs and understands the personal and special nature of jewellery.

Looking after what’s precious

More than ever before we need to be aware of what we humans are doing to the planet. Jewellers have always recycled their precious metal because it is precisely that – precious. Silver, gold and platinum is not cheap, so we keep all the metal scraps and tiny pieces, right down to the lemel – that’s the metal filings (dust). We even keep the emery paper (that we use to smooth and texture) that has tiny particles of metal embedded, as it all adds up.

Every few years, all this material gets sent to a bullion refiner who heats it up to super high temperatures to purify it back into the separate elements. These silver, gold and platinum ‘re-purified’ metals are then ready to make into more beautiful pieces of jewellery.

All the slightly larger pieces of scrap and off-cuts I melt down myself into usable rods. It is one of my favourite jobs, remodelling customers’ worn, broken or ‘old-fashioned’ jewellery and transforming it into something new. When creating these very personal pieces of jewellery, I am also thinking about the individual that I am making the piece for during the process, and so becomes a very special part of my work.

For customers, it is only really cost-effective for me to do this with gold. As what you pay for in the extra work with melting and reshaping far outweighs the price of new gold. Although, it can be done with silver if you want simple bangles or rings. When I melt my silver into rods, I make a variety of plain bangles that have a polished, hammered or textured finish alongside a collection of twisted bangles.

If you are local to Knutsford, I do keep a box separate for charity donations for anyone who has scraps of silver to drop off – such as a broken silver chain or one stray earring – that is just not enough to get cashed in, but don’t want to throw it away as it seems wasteful. Eventually, when I have enough, these items are sent to the bullion refiner, and I donate the money to a local charity.

This recycling and reusing of metal are all part of the sustainable and circular processes that have been part of the jewellery trade for centuries. The new bullion I buy is mostly from 100% recycled sources.

Tara in the workshop

Watch Tara create a gold and silver ring with stone set in gold. Tara takes you through the process of creating a ring from raw materials to the finished article.