Robert Tarkkanen, Master Jeweller: Roots on the Arabianranta and cooperation with Ukraine

Robert Tarkkanen is the only third generation Master Jeweller in Finland. His masterpiece, the €100,000 necklace Juuret - Roots, is a tribute not only to the family business based in Arabianranta, Helsinki, but also to war-torn Ukraine. It features diamonds and glowing Ukrainian heliodores, custom-cut for the necklace and the whole jewelry collection.

The year 2023 was historical for atelier Tarkkanen. Robert Tarkkanen graduated as a master jeweller exactly 70 years after his grandfather, Unto Tarkkanen. At the same time, the atelier became the only goldsmith's atelier in Finland with three generations of master jewellers. Robert's grandfather and founder of the company Unto Tarkkanen graduated in 1953, his father Mika in 2001 and now Robert in 2023.

- The title of master jeweller is very important to me and is the highest title that a goldsmith can achieve with his craftsmanship. At the same time, there is an interesting detail in our history: my grandfather was also 25 years old when he graduated as a master 70 years ago," says Robert.

The company has been operating at its current address at Hämeentie 155 in Helsinki since 1955.

- The title of my masterpiece, Juuret - Roots, refers to the history of our company. I wanted to honor the work of our family and, more generally, the traditions and talents of our craft. Roots and awareness of them are important. We are always indebted to the past.

In anticipation of the generational change, Robert also became a co-owner of the company in October with a one-third stake.

Partner in Ukraine

The masterpiece's main stone was a large, translucent yellowish 22.2 carat heliodor. The gemstone's origin and story also turned Robert's thoughts to war-torn Ukraine.

- The heliodor was mined in Ukraine and cut by master cutter Kostiantyn Zalizko in Kryvyi Rih, the birthplace of President Volodymyr Zelensky. The gemstone was made just two days before Russia invaded Ukraine. It was also the last work completed by the Zalizko family business for some time, as the state of war meant that most of the workers went to the front," says Robert.

This opened Robert's eyes to the harsh reality of Ukraine in a tangible way.

- They were my age.

With Heliodor's background in mind, he proceeded to design the masterpiece with the background and story of the stone in mind.

- My original intention was to use the sunflower, the national flower of Ukraine, as one of the main elements of the jewelry. The heliodor found as the main stone for my jewelry was dug from the Ukrainian soil, which feeds the roots that create growth, and which eventually burst into flower. I had found the idea I was looking for.

The sunflower that inspired me is a symbol of loyalty and courage - and I hope the flower always turns towards the light.

- During the design phase, the flower took on a life of its own, and at the same time it became a unique entity, with its stems and roots wrapped around the neck of the wearer.

Sourcing the jewels directly from Ukraine contributes to the survival of locals on the feet of war.

- For my masterpiece and my forthcoming Roots - Roots jewelry series, I will be using heliodores custom cut for us by Zalizko. This is our way of supporting a small business in our field," says Robert.

A modest and dignified beauty

The masterpiece required a huge amount of manual labour to create, although its final shape was found through numerous 3D test modelling sessions. The variation in color and shape of the finished jewel's body is highlighted by the combination of heliodores and diamonds of different sizes. 39 heliodores, 126 diamonds. Yellow and white gold. A very challenging and valuable masterpiece, worth over €100 000.

- Technically, this necklace is very demanding. Hundreds of hours of work went into the setting, design and countless soldering of the custom-made gemstones. The result is a piece of jewelry that lives and falls seamlessly on the neck," says Robert.

The masterpiece is not for sale, but will remain in the atelier Tarkkanen, alongside the family's previous masterpieces.