Meet the maker: Sarah Raffel, designer and creative director, Brazen Studios

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I applied to Glasgow School of Art’s jewellery and silversmithing course as an introduction to metalworking and jewellery making. I quickly fell in love with the process, so much so that even before I graduated, I had already drawn up a business plan outlining the original model of Brazen Studios.

Several months later I opened up my first jewellery workshop in the Merchant City. I like to work one-to-one with clients who want to be part of the creative process, helping them to create (or recreate) a special piece of jewellery.

A typical day for me begins with an early-morning walk with my rescue pup. I find a lot of inspiration in nature. There is something so calming about a woodland walk or getting out onto the moors. After my daily dose of fresh air, it’s on to the studio, where I’ll have a meeting with Rona Dalgleish, Brazen’s goldsmith and workshop manager, to discuss all our current projects.

Every piece goes through various stages of sketch design, modelling and benchwork. Rona then gets to work at the bench while I try to dedicate most of my time to design work and sourcing stones. All our work is cast in fully recycled precious metals and our gemstones and diamonds are exclusively sourced from companies with an ethical approach to stone extraction and resale.

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One of my favourite metals is 18ct gold, particularly when it’s paired with a beautifully coloured gemstone. I’m so pleased that yellow gold is having a bit of a renaissance as it fell out of favour for a while a few years back. It has such a rich buttery colour and is beautiful to work with at the bench.

People often comment on how glamorous my job must be. The stones are gorgeous, of course, but the truth is the job can be far from glamorous. We are a very small team, we design every piece from scratch and both of us have to get quite grubby at the bench – which is why you will never see a goldsmith or a jeweller with a nice manicure!

It can be difficult to juggle all the different job roles – management, creative development, finance and more – but the mantra I live by is ‘where there’s a will there’s a way’. There is always a solution to any challenge. Sometimes you just need to be willing to take it on in the first place.

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