Intimate Identity: The Collectible Heirlooms of Todd Reed Jewellery

It is rare to speak to a luxury jeweller who is so spiritually connected to the methods they use, the materials they favour and the works they produce. Interviewing Colorado-based artist Todd Reed is like going on a journey into a singular mind unencumbered by formal training, expectations or commerciality. Each piece is a collectable treasure, impossible to duplicate, forged in metal, raw diamonds and coloured stones.

I can vividly remember the first time I met Todd Reed. It was at Couture Las Vegas in 2016 when I was pulled like a magnet to his iconic, handmade cuff bracelets. I knew I was in the presence of something special, and the more I dug into his heritage brand, the more I felt like his pieces were the collectables of the future – the creations we will all be fighting over in decades' time when the business has passed to his daughter. Todd has been making exquisite works for more than 30 years, starting back in his teenage years. He dabbled in leather goods and the culinary arts, too, but soon realised in the early 1990s that he kept being pulled back into jewellery. He says this is because “these objects seemed so important” and “touched people at a deep level”, which appealed to his existing fascination with gemstone energies and healing properties.

Katerina Perez wears a Todd Reed necklace in 18k and 14k yellow gold, set with 26 carats of aquamarine, round brilliant-cut diamonds, princess-cut diamonds and marquise-cut diamonds for a total weight of 2.72 carats

The momentum he’s gained as an artist from those humble beginnings to now is quite remarkable, especially considering Todd is self-taught. He’s also not one to shout about his brand, which, of course, he should, so he’s achieved his success by engaging with clients and working his way into the world of luxury jewellery one bespoke commission at a time. He has also exhibited the kind of bravery and bold first moves that are often referenced in the histories of much larger houses. For example, he was one of the first designer-makers to launch his own luxury retail stores, and he almost single-handedly introduced the world to raw diamonds in fine jewellery design. Rough diamonds, blackened silver, textured finishes, even cabochon diamonds… they all emerged from his workshop long before others dared to push their own boundaries. He says: “It felt very natural to make jewellery. From the very beginning, I liked the idea that the jewellery felt like an artefact of some kind, like it could be great now in a gallery or museum but at the same time could be discovered under a tin can beneath the basement of a home and still be cool.”

The Todd Reed signature style is defined by years of trial, error, adaptation and experimentation. His pieces are purposefully not cast, milled, machined or stamped and are 100% hand fabricated using old and new methodologies. In our conversation, he described the Todd Reed process as “traditional smithing combined with a sort of irreverent loving attitude”. The pieces that emerge from Todd Reed’s workshop have a treasure-like quality thanks to textured surfaces, raw minerals and Amazonian proportions. He takes pride in revealing the stages of the making process in a jewel so the wearer can visualise its construction. “I love texture,” he continues, “to get the finish we put on [a piece], it’s very alive, it’s a challenge to do it and do it well.” Collectors know they are commissioning something aesthetically unique, handmade and world-class in terms of construction and finishing.

Todd Reed and Katerina Perez at the Las Vegas Couture show in 2016

Importantly, the Todd Reed brand doesn’t shy away from the imperfect and, therefore, challenges the conventions of what a one-of-a-kind high jewel must be to be desirable. His interpretation of luxury is centred on time, rarity, uniqueness, and attention, not the marks on a gemstone grading report or the opinions of others. These are important pieces, likely appreciated by more nuanced and understated collectors who want curated collections that whisper luxury rather than shout about it. Plus, like so many of the world’s most prestigious heritage brands, a single piece receives the devoted attention of an individual maker from Todd’s team, who takes ownership of a creation from start to finish. The time alone makes a Todd Reed jewel, watch or object a work of art.

Todd Reed teapot in 18k yellow gold and patinated sterling silver

The great thing about talking to Todd is that despite all his success, he’s still a family man based in Boulder, Colorado, which sits at the foothills of the Rocky Mountains. “I live a complete life in the shadow of these beautiful, jagged mountains,” he says. “They are a metaphor for how I really feel – that people are full of character, as full of character as these jagged mountains. They are rough; they are raw. I would say my jewellery is absolutely influenced.”

Although he has made ready-to-wear collections in the past, Todd now focuses exclusively on bespoke pieces and individual commissions. He benefits from strong brand recognition, both within the jewellery industry and among jewellery lovers, who’ve perhaps heard of his philanthropic efforts, his patented techniques and designs, or have read one of the 35 books in which Todd Reed features. More recently, the addition of unique watches and art objects has further set the business apart, helping to cement its status as an artistically and culturally significant brand that will continue long after Todd passes the baton to his daughter, who shares his values.

Todd Reed watch in stainless steel and 18k yellow gold with white and black brilliant-cut diamonds

If I had to pick one of his signature elements that stands out, it would be the use of raw diamonds. Todd essentially created the raw category in fine jewellery, ushering in an acceptance of rough diamonds, blackened silver, textured finishes and cabochon diamonds into the lexicon of fine jewellery. He says: “If I am known for anything, it’s rough diamonds and bringing rough, opaque, raw elements into the fine jewellery world. I feel that my signature style is a sort of raw elegance – a beautifully made piece that will stand the test of time.” Todd can recall the moment when raw diamonds first stepped into his creative path. 

“I remember I studied geology in high school, and diamonds were fascinating. I felt rough diamonds were a great metaphor for humans and for relationships – a metaphor for love and the things I was interested in as a young man and poet trying to figure out my place and interests in the world pre-internet.”

Now that we are very much in the post-internet age, what is on Todd’s creative agenda? He tells me: “I really love making massive pieces that are not made from aluminium or titanium; they are actually gold. I use diamonds and gemstones as more of a texture – to illuminate a creative or artistic idea. I like the template to be large, such as big cuffs and long earrings.”

No matter how they look, every Todd Reed jewel strives to create a relationship between the maker and the buyer – sharing experiences, finding common ground, and fostering a sense of intimacy between all involved. This word ‘intimacy’ appears throughout his website, indicating a profoundly personal, integral approach to jewellery that will one day be worn as a talisman, an extension of its owner, and an outward show of who they are.

“There are lots of different layers of intimacy,” Todd explains. “One is that jewellery is very handsy, from cutting metal and raw materials to hand forging to 100% fabrication. There’s a relationship built between me, the piece, the maker, and there’s certainly intimacy for the collector who ends up owning the piece.” 

“[My bespoke pieces] are led by people bringing their rawness to me, their story to me and how I turn that story into a talisman or some type of object. I feel like that’s intimate; it’s a real thing that goes back and forth.”

Todd Reed 18k yellow gold and patinated sterling silver box with 3.27 carats of Autumn diamonds, 5.16 carats of brown diamonds and obsidian

If objects genuinely have the power to amplify us as individuals, then I can think of few better to bear the weight of this responsibility than Todd Reed. His unique, family-style brand is a living and working model for high design, elevated service and sustainable and artisanal production methods, which is something very few could ever hope to replicate. His passionate belief in jewellery as an art form and not simply a commercial exercise makes him the perfect choice for heirloom seekers. “I can’t deny that jewellery comes off my soul, and it presents to the world,” he concludes, which makes us kindred spirits in a small way.

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