Todd Daniels has a professional background in diamond setting, custom jewelry design, precious metal engraving, and art that spans over 37 years. He uses bright cuts and geometric patterns to add decoration and emphasis to his settings. He has a deft mastery of engraving and utilizes whatever style is needed to achieve the desired effect. Todd often layers together pierced, engraved, and set pieces to create refined jewelry with dimension and beauty.
Todd was interested in making art and jewelry from a young age. As a child, he crafted jewelry out of metal parts his dad had around. He was creative with the materials he had available, taking a plain metal nut and filing it into a signet ring. In high school, Todd enjoyed taking part in an art program that had a jewelry design option. He won a Governor’s Award in a jewelry design competition and decided to pursue art in college.
Todd graduated from Miami University in 1983 with a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree, with a concentration in Jewelry Design and Intaglio Printmaking. After graduating, he continued to expand his skillset through observing other professionals, research, and trial and error. Once he had the process down, he would practice until he perfected these new techniques.
Todd worked for a local jeweler for thirteen years. During his time there, he developed its custom design department while also building his own shop. In 1996, Todd started his own business. Through his work, he met Joe Vogelsang and began to do contract work for Whitehouse Brothers. Vogelsang brought him materials and told Todd that he would take as many pieces as he could produce. Todd honed his skills as a designer and developer by working on vintage-style filigree rings over a period of 10 years. At the time, he was the only person working with the company that could complete a ring from start-to-finish.
Since then, Todd has worked independently, creating custom pieces for clients. He also regularly teaches for GRS at the Training Center in Emporia, KS, and has taught and demonstrated in different parts of the world, including China, India, Greece, France, Norway, and many, many more. He has also spent time working with a local high school art program, introducing a new generation of students to engraving and jewelry work.
Many people will know you as a GRS Training Center instructor. What made you decide to teach?
GRS is known for being a world-renowned teaching center and I was honored to be a part of it. I am always happy to share my knowledge and help others succeed.
What do you like best about teaching?
I enjoy sharing knowledge that can be a part of someone else’s success. It is rewarding to see the progress students make not only during the class itself, but later when they contact me and show me how they are applying the skills they learned.
Out of everything you have worked on, do you have a favorite project? What is your most memorable project?
My most memorable project: I was commissioned to create a Master of Sacred Theology ring to commemorate an honorary doctorate that has been given by the order since the 1300s. One of my favorite projects is a watch that I worked on in collaboration with Geoffrey Roth which appears in November 2019 Special Watch Edition of the Robb Report.
Where do you go for inspiration?
I get inspiration from the world around me. I see designs in nature that I may use in a future piece. For example, I’m inspired by the layout of the seeds in a sunflower, the twist of a pine cone, repetitive shapes, fractals in nature, geometric patterns, etc. I enjoy abstract as well as representational art. I love to visit museums and view art from various cultures, both contemporary and ancient.
Are there particular artists that inspire you?
One of my favorite influences would be George Daniels (famous watchmaker) who is one of the only watchmakers that can build the entire watch from start to finish. I really enjoy Escher’s work as well as Leonardo da Vinci, Michelangelo, Hendrick Goltzius, and Albrecht Dürer who was also a goldsmith.
When creating a new piece of work, what process do you go through (sketches, research, etc.)?
Once I have an inspiration, I make sketches to get the basic idea down on paper. Then I create models so I can engineer a design that will not only be beautiful but will also be functional. Unlike other forms of art that may be hung on a wall or set on a shelf to be enjoyed, jewelry must be designed from the beginning to fulfill its purpose of being worn.
Your Instagram also features other forms of art, including printmaking, drawing, and sculpture. Do you find that your work in other arts influence your metal work and vice versa? What benefits do you see from working in other media?
I feel that by doing multiple art forms I have the opportunity to express both organic and geometric designs separately, however, I can also bring these two polar opposites together in a piece. For example, in a single watch project I may incorporate both organic and geometric qualities and the contrast of the two together in a single composition can amplify the effect.
Just for Fun
Todd loves to get out in the country and bicycle. He likes to learn about health and fitness.
He also enjoys traveling and experiencing other cultures and foods.
You have traveled the world sharing your art and working with different cultures. What is your biggest take away?
I think traveling always shows me that while each culture may have its own way of doing things, the people in those cultures are always just as eager to learn about others as I am. I have benefited greatly by being able to see the world through a different cultural lens. Every time I have the opportunity to travel, I always find inspiration and ideas for creating new pieces.
Where do you see the future of jewelry and hand engraving?
I think stone setting and hand engraving can be applied not only to custom jewelry such as rings, bracelets and watches but can also be expanded to embellish other forms of art and custom goods.
If you could pass one bit of advice on to other artists, what would it be?
The biggest piece of advice I could pass on is that people need to give themselves grace when they are learning new skills. Don’t be self-defeating. Understand that you learn by making mistakes. If you do not push yourself to your boundaries, you will never know your true potential.
Is there anything else that you would like to share?
Enjoy the journey of learning and creating, not just your final goals.
Todd has an impressive combination of formal training and professional background in diamond setting, custom jewelry design, fine metal engraving, and art.
He earned a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree with concentrations in Intaglio Printmaking and Jewelry Design from Miami University in Oxford, Ohio. As a 37-year professional goldsmith and jeweler, Todd now creates custom pieces for clients. He also provides intensive training opportunities on all facets of jewelry design, manufacturing, and production.