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Exclusive: The Repair Shop's goldsmith Richard Tallman reveals how daughters Emily and Alice inspired new venture

The Master Goldsmith opened up about his family life and The Repair Shop secrets


Richard Talman in a purple shirt in his workshop
Nichola Murphy
Deputy Lifestyle Editor
12 January 2024
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With 30 years of experience under his belt, The Repair Shop's Richard Talman knows a thing or two about the jewellery industry, from the up-and-coming engagement ring trends to the money-saving proposal hack you'd be "crazy" not to try.

Richard founded RTFJ, which stands for Richard Talman Fine Jewellery, in 2010 and his expertise has seen him help numerous customers on-screen and off-screen. Outside of filming, his co-stars Will Kirk and Jay Blades have turned to him for help creating their engagement and wedding rings. We sat down with Richard to hear all about his family life, his affordable new jewellery brand, and his thoughts on Will and Jay's rings...

Inside Emilice

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Emilice was sweetly named after Richard's two young daughters, Emily and Alice, whom he said could follow in his footsteps in the future. "I just wanted something that was unique," he said of the name. "And something that potentially one day they could continue. Bearing in mind now that they are seven and five, one day, they might want to get involved."

After developing his interest in rocks, gemstones and precious metals from a young age, he added that they have already begun showing a shared passion for his work. "They absolutely love coming into the shop. I've got all of my original collection of gemstones which I collected from about the age of my youngest actually, which they come in and look at. Who knows! Sometimes people show up, show a massive passion early on and then it fades away, other people don't show a passion immediately and then follow it. I would never, ever lead them into something against their will. But they certainly are very excited about the prospects at the moment."

Even if they choose another career path, he joked that he hoped they would turn to him for help if they ever got engaged. "The boyfriend would be missing a trick if he didn't. I'd be pretty disappointed, yes!" he laughed.

When asked about his motivation to start another jewellery brand, following the success of RTFJ, Richard explained he wanted to address the gap in the market for adorable jewellery, which is more important than ever thanks to the rising costs of the precious metals. 

Richard Talman holding a fire tool in his workshop© Steve Ullathorne
The Master Goldsmith revealed his kids love visiting the workshop

"We are now finding even some of the most basic bespoke pieces are running into the thousands which is totally out of a lot of people's budgets. I know I had become increasingly frustrated that a lot of very, very good clients who had previously used bespoke services, would want a gift for a friend, family or birthday present that doesn't fit the bill of our bespoke service. So in order to meet the needs of our customers, we decided to source some very well-made jewellery that can be made on a more industrial process.

"So they're not unique one-off, but of course, then the price reflects as all of the pieces are currently under £150. And there could be plans to make it a little bit bigger, a little bit smaller in the price range. But it's more about jewellery for everyone's pocket – one up from costume jewellery, but not quite up so high as our bespoke service."

Proposal mistakes to avoid

Engagement and wedding ring from RTFJ© RTFJ
Richard already owns thriving jewellery business RTFJ

Speaking of cost-saving, Richard opened up about his bespoke service, which allows customers to melt down precious metals and have them repurposed into a new piece of jewellery – a hack that not many people take advantage of. Not only does that mean that it could have sentimental value – for example, using broken family heirlooms – but it is also a great move financially and environmentally.

"We are currently experiencing the highest gold price that I have ever seen in my life in the trade, which is 30 years. And therefore I say to people, if you've got gold, in any format that you're not using, you'd be crazy to scrap that gold for a scrap price, which is a lot lower than the buying price, and then use that money to buy new, you might just as well reuse it," he explained, adding that several different pieces of jewellery could be melted down together as long as it's the same material.

"People might have chains that are broken, but they don't throw them away, they have an earring that they've lost, but they don't wear them because they're not a pair, they might have an old bracelet that just doesn't fit them anymore. And they would accumulate these items in a jewellery box without any real thought about the quantity they have. 

"You need as little as 10g of gold to make an engagement ring (half of that to make a wedding ring), so what a lot of people don't realise is before they start asking a goldsmith for quotes to supply them an item, they might very well have that item sitting at home in their drawer. The cost of the materials is over half of a wedding ring, and about a third of engagement rings, because of course, you have the stone - a diamond or sapphire or ruby."

Richard Talman in a green coat outside© Steve Ullathorne
The TV star opened up about jewellery trends and money-saving hacks

From an environmental point of view, this is likely to become more and more popular with an increasing focus on sustainability, which Richard stating it is "absolutely" the way forward in 2024. "So rather than buying new mined gold, it's using about as much energy as boiling an egg to take old gold and make a new wedding ring," he said.

The second biggest mishap he sees in the engagement ring industry is getting the size wrong, which Richard reassured "is very fixable." Despite numerous hacks online claiming to ensure you get it right the first time, Richard said things like taking another ring with you don't always work for one crucial reason – it's never been worn on the ring finger.

The Repair Shop stars Richard Talman and Jay Blades in the shop© BBC
Richard has shown off his jewellery repair skills on The Repair Shop

"It's more common than not most people propose with a surprise, and nine out of 10 will be coming back to you for a finger alteration. That's normal, it's almost impossible to accurately predict your partner's ring size unless they are invited to go into a jeweller to have their finger properly measured and then leave the information conveniently on display for people to find. Occasionally you find people organised like that!" he joked.

He said sneaking into your partner's existing jewellery box and borrowing a ring worn on their right ring finger "is the closest you'll ever get" to nailing the size. "But the ring finger will differ left to right depending on whether people are left or right-handed. If you're right-handed that finger will be ever so slightly bigger and more muscular. You can usually drop a size and that's quite accurate. No one's made the same," explained the TV star.

The Repair Shop secrets

Jay Blades' wife Lisa's gold wedding ring© Instagram
The TV star helped Jay Blades and his wife Lisa with their wedding rings

Two stars who have taken Richard up on his expertise are Will Kirk and Jay Blades, and he said he was "honoured" they wanted him to have such a crucial role in their love stories. "I was really, really honoured about it. And indeed I'm honoured when anyone asks me to make a piece of jewellery for them because they're entrusting my style," explained Richard.

"When people walk into a shop, they see an item of jewellery they like and they buy it, there's no element of trust. Whereas when someone comes to me they're relying on me to get it right. With the likes of Will and Jay, they could have gone anywhere, any jeweller would have loved their business, but they chose me and I was honoured by that."

The Repair Shop's Sonnaz Nooranvary, Lucia Scalisi, Julie Tatchell, William Kirk, Jay Blades, Amanda Middleditch, Suzie Fletcher, Dominic Chinea and Steve Fletcher© Guy Levy
Richard revealed all of the cast on The Repair Shop are supportive

Jay had both his wife Lisa's diamond engagement ring and "imperfect" wedding rings with sentimental gems crafted by the Master Goldsmith, while Will asked him to create custom-made wedding rings for himself and his wife Polly for their 2021 wedding.

When asked about his off-screen relationship with his The Repair Shop co-stars, he had nothing but positive things to say about the cast. Richard insisted that the whole team is quick to support one another, and he has no doubt that will extend to his new business. "Everyone is supportive of everyone. I can assure you definitely the friendliness that is portrayed on screen is not acting, everyone is that friendly with each other and everyone is that supportive, and people will come to you for advice," he said.

LOOK: The Repair Shop stars' weddings: Will Kirk's Cotswolds nuptials, Suzie Fletcher's bridal sports bra & more

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