After completing a seven year apprenticeship with a master goldsmith he went to work for Carl Becks who was a supplier to the Russian Imperial court. Before long however, Alexander decided to go into business on his own and at just 23 he opened his first premises in the heart of St Petersburg.
His business focused on producing fashionable design led jewels and objet d’art with the highest quality craftsmanship – a feature that would become synonymous with the firm. At the beginning of the 1890s Alexander’s son Alexander Jr. had returned to St Petersburg after a three year trip through Europe during which time he had gained much experience and made a lot of contacts. He joined the family business and set about making his mark by opening a new branch which dealt in second hand jewellery as well as investing in the export of the popular Russian mined gemstone Demantoid Garnet. By the early 20th century business was booming and Alexander Jr was now running the whole business by himself.
Whilst the firm remained relatively unscathed by the Russian Revolution of 1905, the same was not true of the one that occurred in 1917. Along with many other Russian jewellery manufacturers, the firm was forced to closed and the Tillander family moved their lives and business to Helsinki. Here, in 1918 Alexander Jr. re-established A. Tillander and the firm is still in existence today and remains family owned.