Made in Cheshire - Claire Troughton jewellery

Handmade bouquet ring,18 ct gold, pink and white diamonds

Handmade bouquet ring,18 ct gold, pink and white diamonds - Credit: Archant

Cheshire’s countryside inspires many, including award-winning local jeweller Claire Troughton, writes Heidi Nagaitis

The Cheshire landscape is ever-changing and the countryside inspires many creative people, including award-winning jeweller Claire Troughton. Claire explained: ‘Cheshire has some fantastic natural vegetation, animals and views which really catch your eye when designing. It’s a great place to work.’

Owner of Claire Troughton Jewellery in Saltney, near Chester, Claire is celebrating her most recent accolade, the prestigious British Jewellers’ Association Excellence in Jewellery Award, which she received at the British Trade Craft Fair in May.

Chosen from 130 exhibitors, she caught the judges’ eye due to her unique designs and craftsmanship. ‘It was such an honour to win. Looking at the other entries, I didn’t expect to reach the final, but to accomplish such an award is an amazing achievement.’

Studying for a degree in jewellery design at the Edinburgh College of Art, Claire was commended by the prestigious World Community of Goldsmiths before spending 10 years in the Birmingham Jewellery Quarter where she learned her trade.

Starting her own business back in Cheshire, Claire suffered the loss of stock, tools and orders in the tragic 2010 fire at the Cheshire Enterprise Centre. ‘It was a real blow to the business. Overnight I lost invaluable tools which had been handed down from older jewellery makers, stock and pieces which I’d kept with me for inspiration.’

‘It took two years to get the business back to where it was in 2010, but the hard work has been worth it. Although, when I’m working, I still reach for tools I lost in the fire.’

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Working in a small team, Claire oversees all of the pieces in her studio, based on her own designs, as well as working on a number of special commissions. ‘It is touching when people bring their jewellery to me to rework. Some of the stories I’m told by these customers are so sad, but I love bringing a unique piece of jewellery to life, made from family heirlooms which hold such emotional value.’

One commission piece saw Claire combine two wedding rings, one belonging to the mother of the bride who passed away before her daughter’s wedding day, the other being the daughter’s wedding ring, to fashion a truly personal piece.

‘I added white and gold flowers as well as yellow stones to the new ring. It became an everlasting wedding bouquet for the bride.’

Her own designs have also sparked interest on the world stage. ‘In 1998 I entered a competition organised by the Foreign Commonwealth Office to design gifts for delegates at the G8 Summit. I created a pair of white and gold cufflinks which, although didn’t win, were shortlisted and caught the eye of the judges, including Cherie Blair.

‘I was invited to Downing Street to an event celebrating British design talent and got to meet Tony and Cherie Blair and inventor Robert Dyson!’

With collections ranging from ‘Dew Drops’ to ‘Bees Knees’, Claire finds the natural world inspiring.

Claire enthused: ‘Cheshire is full of beautiful countryside which really helps my jewellery designs. My latest collection will be based on the ferns I see when I go running in Delamere forest; it promises to be a great addition to my ever-expanding range.’

With a 16-year-old step-daughter and a seven-year-old daughter, Claire is never without company in the studio. ‘Both girls are really interested in what I do and I love that the whole family gets involved in the business. My seven year old is definitely my fiercest critic - she even has her own workbench and tools in the studio.’

With endless award nominations on the horizon, it is clear Claire’s success will continue.

‘I’m lucky that my work is recognised. However, when a customer loves my pieces, or I spot someone wearing one of my designs that is definitely the most satisfying part of my job.’