Thursday 24 September, 2020

His Royal Highness The Prince of Wales opens Goldsmiths’ Fair 2020 with video message of support

•    HRH The Prince of Wales has opened Goldsmiths’ Fair 2020 with a video message to visitors: His Royal Highness has been an honorary member of the Goldsmiths’ Company since 1981
•    The Fair is an annual event and exhibition showcasing some of the most talented established and emerging fine jewellers and contemporary silversmiths creating and making in the UK today
•    Goldsmiths’ Fair will be digital only for the first time in its 38-year history
•    Visitors will be able to view, experience and buy work from over 130 contemporary makers 
•    Talks with makers, industry celebrities and experts will run alongside the Fair from the history of men's jewellery to how female empowerment changed jewellery design

His Royal Highness The Prince of Wales has opened this year’s digital Goldsmiths' Fair – the UK’s premier event and exhibition of fine jewellers and contemporary silversmiths – in a video message to visitors, in which he shares his support for the UK craft industry. (His Royal Highness has been an honorary member of the Goldsmiths’ Company, which runs the Fair, since 1981.) 

The Fair will showcase the work of over 130 fine jewellers and silversmiths from up and down the country, creating and making in a huge range of styles from engraved signet rings to earrings crocheted and embellished with diamond beads. Visitors will be able to view, experience and buy work from the best contemporary makers, and in addition enjoy virtual 1-1 studio visits, demonstrations, talks, and exhibitions. The Fair will provide an online platform for visitors, who ordinarily attend the live event at the Goldsmiths’ Hall in the City of London, as well as to new audiences from around the world.

This year makers are increasingly experimenting with form and material. Jacqueline Cullen makes her stunning jewellery from Whitby jet, a fossilised wood loved by the Victorians for mourning wear. Christopher Thompson Royds immortalises flowers found in our hedgerows and verges in delicate18 carat gold sculptures. Castro Smith has brought signet rings back into fashion, capturing personal messages, symbols and emotions within the confines of his bespoke rings. Recent RCA graduate Gearry Suen mixes virtual reality and 3D printing with ancient techniques like jade carving whilst Ella Fearon-Low uses off-cuts of wood, vintage beads, stones and pearls with recycled gold and silver to create her brooches.

The theme for Goldsmiths' Fair 2020 is upcycling and reimagining existing pieces. Harriet Scott, Head of the Fair and Events at the Goldsmiths’ Company, says: “The recycling of precious metals is a tradition that dates back thousands of years - gold, silver and platinum can be smelted down and gems hold their intrinsic value and can always be reset. Following the trends of slow fashion, consumers are increasingly interested in the possibility of working with a jewellery designer to remodel their existing pieces.” Jewellers like Maya Selway, Flora Bhattachary and Shimell and Madden are making a name for transforming heirlooms into something that is worn not locked away.

Silverware on show ranges from abstract sculptural pieces to beautiful tableware, vessels, vases, beakers and bowls. “Silversmiths are continually experimenting and testing the boundaries of the material, creating everything from large-scale geometric wall pieces to ornate, small-scale boxes inspired by real and imaginary buildings”, says Harriet. Makers like Claire Malet are working with tin and aluminium cans as well as with recycled silver to create work that explores the vessels that are found in nature like shells and sea pods. 

From ancient times to the present day, brooches have fascinated makers as what Wendy Ramshaw called “a portable artform”. The Brooch Unpinned is an exhibition of brooches drawn from Goldsmiths’ Company’s private Collection that celebrates the art of the brooch, highlighting how the brooch can be used to convey a message, make a personal statement, or spark a conversation. 

Talks with makers, celebrities and industry experts will run alongside the Fair and explore everything from the history of men's jewellery, to collecting jewellery and the effect of female empowerment on jewellery design.

In challenging times, the Goldsmiths' Company continues to support small scale artisans, age-old skills, quality craftsmanship and the trade, as it has done for the last seven centuries. Exhibitors use exceptional handmaking skills to create their pieces, applying techniques that have been passed down over hundreds of years. All makers exhibiting at Goldsmiths' Fair are chosen through a rigorous selection process which ensures the highest standards of both materials and craftsmanship. 

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