Freeman Brothers was first established as a funeral director in Horsham, West Sussex in 1855. Now with a further three offices across the county – in Billingshurst, Crawley and Hurstpierpoint – the company maintains a strong reputation for high standards of customer service, and broadening the range of services provided. In March 2022, Freeman Brothers was proud to be chosen by Master Goldsmith, Richard Talman, as the exclusive funeral director partner for a new range of memorial jewellery. This week, Becky interviewed Richard to find out more about the pieces…
Welcome to the Freeman Brothers blog, Richard! We’ve covered the ‘With Me’ collection here previously, but only in the context of launching it. Can you tell us what inspired you to create it?
Although I’ve established myself and my workshop as specialising in bespoke creations and, more recently, repairs to damaged pieces, I found myself often receiving enquiries regarding memorial jewellery. As these items have increased in popularity, there have consistently been two major companies offering them in the UK, both of which use styles of processing cremated remains which involve mixing the remains into the jewellery itself.
However, this means that the two things can then never be separated, and if you damage or lose your piece of jewellery, you have also damaged or lost the ashes, which can cause anxiety or distress. So in addition to wanting to solve this problem, I also wanted to create a range which has the distinction of my own, timeless, style.
My greatest piece of advice though is always to keep a portion of ashes back when ordering a memorial piece or keepsake – you never know what the future holds.
We quite agree, this echoes our own advice! Trends change, and so do the range of products available, so if something new comes to market but you have no cremated remains left, there’s no opportunity to create a new item.
Following on from our previous question, we were wondering how long it took you to design the range?
‘With Me’ was my COVID lockdown project! Due to the restrictions around social distancing put in place at the height of the pandemic, I wasn’t able to see my customers face to face. For the bespoke work that I do, this is a key part of the process, and so my work was limited and I had a bit more time on my hands.
It seemed like an ideal opportunity to both develop the technique I wanted in order to take care of the cremated remains I’d be handling, as well as getting the look and feel of the range right. Ultimately, the process of fixing the ashes was something I adapted from a technique we use to repair jewellery – the ashes are securely sealed (they are in a waterproof chamber) rather than being mixed with another substance.
To design the pieces and incorporate this element into them took about a month. Doing things in this way also enables me to do something else which was incredibly important to me, and that was to offer the peace of mind that people are welcome to come and watch the ashes be processed by us at the workshop, so that they know they are safe and handled appropriately.
That’s wonderful to hear, as it’s another way in which your ethos matches ours! We also love the names of the pieces, can you tell us a bit more about them?
This part actually took me a while! Fortunately, inspiration suddenly struck: all of the names are related to stars, which I thought was a good fit as people – whether they’re religious or not – often talk about thinking of their loved ones in this way.
That’s a good observation – we think it also ties in nicely with jewellery, as people often talk about both jewellery and stars having a sparkling element. Do you have a favourite piece?
That’s a tough question, but I’d probably go with Capella due to it being a universal shape, plus it can also be used as a key fob. I wanted to offer a range which was wearable by all kinds of people, so the pieces aim to offer choice.
What advice would you give to help people choose the right piece for them?
I would encourage people to decide how subtle (or not!) they want the piece to be. The pieces involving stones are quite statement, due to the craft involved: the stones for this range are all what are known as cabochon – they have a flat back and a domed top, so that the ashes can fit into the chamber. This immediately rules out certain stones either for cost or practicality reasons. If there’s a particular stone you’d like for your piece and it isn’t on the list, please do ask as we may be able to offer it.
Ultimately, some people want jewellery to be noticed, and some want a piece just for holding close to themselves, so a great question to ask yourself is whether you’re looking to invoke a memory or make a statement.
What are your hopes for the future of the ‘With Me’ collection?
I developed the collection to provide people with an everlasting, fit for purpose range of jewellery, so I hope that anyone purchasing it gets the pleasure and memories that they looked for. As I mentioned earlier, the idea was always that this range would solve what I perceived to be a missing link in other options which are available. In addition to this, the range gives back as I donate a portion of the profits to local charity, Kangaroos.
And finally, a classic question: what do you enjoy most about your job?
Creating unique pieces to reflect client requirements or desires.
Thank you Richard for taking the time to speak to us! If you have any questions regarding the range, you can find more information here, and view the range in any of our offices. You can learn more about Richard and his work here