Rachel Swan is a simply amazing goldsmith. Her work is so intricate yet delicate and what I love about her pieces is the beauty that she captures within each one. She established her business in 2008 following the traditional path into the craft of an apprenticeship and since then has just gone from strength to strength. She has also won two Future Maker Awards from the Crafts Council of Ireland to which she is also a member.
Today I am delighted to be featuring an interview with Rachel and I hope that you enjoy it as much as I did.
Have you always been interested in design?
Always! I can’t remember ever not designing. I think you can get so much pleasure from appreciating good design.
What made you decide to choose a creative career?
I didn’t really choose to, I just always knew I would. I couldn’t imagine not designing and creating things! A creative career is certainly not the easiest, but I wouldn’t have it any other way.
I understand that you started your career by being an apprentice. Would you recommend going down this route?
Absolutely. It really gives you an insight into the business side of things as well as the craft itself. You also have to learn fairly quickly because it’s your job and you’re working as team. You can learn so much as an apprentice, but you only get out of it what you put in.
Your pieces are just stunning – where does your inspiration come from?
Thank you! For me, inspiration can come from architecture, shapes and lines. Sketching can also spark some ideas for me, which is why I have to make time out of every day for some doodling.
What is your favourite part of the design process?
For me, it’s being at the bench, making prototypes and then deciding which ones are going to be added to the collection. Creating the final piece that started out as a sketch is very satisfying. Making new pieces really keeps me motivated.
Right now I’m designing new pieces. Its’ not the best time of year to start new ideas as it’s very busy in the run up to December, but I think if you have some inspiration just go with it…
The beautiful detail and the almost architectural aspect of your work is very unique. Do you prefer making pieces such as revolver and cube pendants or pieces more in the style of the central pendant?
I do love to design angular, geometric pieces with a repeated pattern, but sometimes things need to be softened up, and that’s where the Central collection comes in.
Although the central pendant may look simple, it has a unique way of setting the pearl which makes it very time consuming to make. The most simple designs can sometimes be the most difficult to make. And I don’t like to make things easy for myself!
What has been the most challenging part of owning your own brand & business?
Keeping the momentum up, because if you take your eye off the ball, even for a short time, it can take a while to get going again.
I’m a goldsmith, but by owning a brand, I also have to work at sales, marketing, IT etc…that can be difficult when all I want to do is make a lovely new pieces.
Although I am sure hard to choose – what had been your proudest moment to date?
What makes me most proud is seeing a customer wearing my work. That feeling never gets old. It’s so nice to read emails from customers saying how much they wear and love their pieces.
What advice would you have for others interested in a career as a goldsmith?
Try to get as much hands on experience at the bench as you can and don’t be afraid to make mistakes.
What does the future hold for Rachel Swan Goldsmith?
Lots of new lovely designs hopefully. I’m concentrating on expanding the gold collection and would love to add more diamonds. I’m also working on some engagement ring ideas for next year.
A massive thank you to Rachel for the interview and if you are looking for a timeless gift for someone dear to you (or for yourself!) then I would highly recommend taking a look at Rachel’s website. She is also on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram and certainly worth checking in on. I absolutely love the minimalist aesthetic of her Instagram – it’s just stunning.
All images kindly provided by Rachel for use.