The story begins in 1837 with the birth of Alexander Tillander into a family of farmers near Helsinki. As the farm was too small to support the family, at the age of 11 Alexander was put on a cart carrying produce to St Petersburg. There he managed to get himself apprenticed to a Finnish master goldsmith. After the compulsory seven years, he returned to St Petersburg as journeyman to the German master Carl Becks, maker of Imperial orders and decorations.
Capable, industrious and thrifty, he decided by 1860, with his savings, to start out on his own. Already around 1887, his son Alexander spent a short apprenticeship with his father’s company before being sent abroad. Back in St Petersburg in 1891, Alexander Junior assumed partial responsibility for the running of the company. By 1902 the company had many illustrious aristocratic clients. In 1910 the 50th anniversary of the company was celebrated.
In the autumn of 1917 Alexander Junior and his family did not return from their holiday in Finland. Finland had declared itself an independent state and civil war had broken out to decide who would rule the new Russia. In 1921 the company of A. Tillander Jewellers was re-established in Finland.
After the Second World War, as prosperity returned, the leading industrialist families began to commission and buy fine jewelry. New creations were among those that took the world by storm in the 1960s with the phenomenal success of Finnish design.
It was Tillander who in 1984 designed a delightful necklace and bracelet for the Princess of Wales. Today, Atelier Torbjörn Tillander has a long history, all the way from the Tsarist St. Petersburg of the 19th century, today with the sixth generation of Tillanders working with jewellery in their boutique in the centre of Helsinki.