Spotlight on Thiers cutlery

The cutlery and knife know-how nurtured by manufacturers of all levels in various regions of France (Nontron, Opinel, Laguiole, sailor’s knives, etc.) is greatly admired on the French and international stage.

The cutlery makers of Thiers in the centre of France (Puy-de-Dôme) have been renowned for the high quality of their knives since the Middle Ages, and in 2010 they chose to protect their creations and that precious know-how by founding a local brand: Le Thiers par (meaning "The Thiers by").

We take a closer look at this highly prized know-how.

Thiers: 700 years of cutlery history

In the tableware sector, the artisan cutlers of Thiers are now celebrated for their expertise in forging, shaping, tempering and assembling blades, as well as for manufacturing handles in various materials (wood, ivory, horn, synthetic, etc.).

But let’s take a trip back in time to understand just how big a role cutlery plays in the community around Thiers. Since the Middle Ages, local rivers such as the Durolle have been used for their hydraulic power, to keep the forges in operation to produce knives and cutting tools. During the Renaissance, Thiers knives grew in value for their revered aesthetics and exquisite quality, and the city made a name for itself. During the 18th and 19th centuries, the Industrial Revolution helped to step up the production of Thiers knives and establish standards for quality. As a result, many cutlery factories were founded – and thrived – in the region.

©Claude Dozorme
© Claude Dozorme

The “Le Thiers par” protected brand 

To guarantee quality and uphold the cutlery tradition, an association called Confrérie du Couteau Le Thiers was created in 1994. This spontaneous collective was the first to lay down strict standards and criteria for quality and authenticity in the area around Thiers. It awards the “Le Thiers par” label to cutlers who respect its charter.

To use the brand, a cutler must have been operating in the Thiers basin for at least five years. Other specifications include targeted criteria regarding origin, a certain shape (the blade must be pointed at the top and slightly plunging; the back must be flat or slightly hollow, curvature must be continuous, etc.), and the piece must bear a clearly identifiable marking and logo.

If a cutler wishes to use the “Le Thiers par” label, they are required to present their prototype to a committee of experts known as La Jurande which verifies that all the criteria are respected. The committee then decides whether to issue the right to engrave “Le Thiers par” on the blade of the applicant’s knife. The organisation is therefore the owner and guarantor of the brand, it must protect it.

The emblematic factories with Thiers know-how

During the early 2000s, Thiers was considered the capital of French cutlery. Faced with growing competition from Asian brands, manufacturers began emphasising the importance of craftsmanship and promoting local ancestral know-how.

On the strength of this strategic reorientation, Thiers is still the nerve centre of French cutlery, with 77 companies operating in the area, accounting for almost 54% of jobs in the sector, according to a study carried out by the Observatoire de la métallurgie in partnership with the FFC and UIMM Auvergne in 2018.

From the many cutlery workshops operating in Thiers and the surrounding area, four stand out for their exemplary production quality and unique know-how. They are all recognised by the Living Heritage Company (EPV) label.

Manufacture Verdier, the art of cutlery from A to Z

Created in Celles-sur-Durolle near Thiers in 1859, this family factory is currently managed by Ronan and Aubry Verdier, two brothers whose production policy is 100% French.

Their history spans six generations, and the cutlers have succeeded in creating an extensive range of products. The Verdier portfolio now includes various brands: knives by André Verdier and the Delarboulas and Scof cutlery brands.

From accessible cutlery to exceptional objects to customise, Manufacture Verdier reflects its 160 years of cutlery tradition.

Claude Dozorme, French cutlery with character

Founded in Thiers by Claude Dozorme in 1902, the eponymous factory has always focused on keeping production in France. It combines creativity with ancestral know-how and excels in pocket, table and kitchen knives, as well as knives for wine and hunting.

While the peers of master cutler Claude Dozorme have nicknamed him “the wolf” due to his fierce entrepreneurial determination, the family business as a whole – passed down from generation to generation until he took over recently – has always managed to maintain a leading edge of rebellious audacity.

Jean Dubost, a cut above for a better world!

Four generations of the Dubost family have continued the cutlery  tradition since the house was founded in 1920.

More recently, this unique factory made the standout decision to launch a visionary range of eco-responsible knives made from plant-based bio-plastic or recycled plastic waste. The initiative earned it an award as a company committed to CSR and received level 2 AFNOR certification.

Goyon-Chazeau: a molten marriage of love and cutlery

Founded in Thiers during the 1950s, this close-knit cutlery business is the legacy of two young newlyweds, Gabriel Goyon and Solange Chazeau, who originally began offering their services as polishers to the many cutlers in the area around Thiers.

Now combining some signature collections (Le Thiers, Stylver, etc.) and original creations (St Vincent, Le P’tit Tradi, 750), this factory employs 12 artisans who channel their expertise into producing a wide range of table knives and some exceptional pieces, including a matching collection in mammoth and stainless steel damascus that is sure to delight lovers of French tableware.

On the strength of its highly valued ambassadors, the town of Thiers perpetuates its exceptional artisanal heritage in the field of French cutlery, actively supported by a strong local brand.

In its aim to accelerate the development of French watchmaking, jewellery and tableware, Francéclat studies and understands markets, drives creativity, stimulates innovation and brings the right people together to boost their international reach.