“The Goldsmiths’ are really at the heart of the gold and silversmithing industry – bringing new makers into it. Without them it would be really difficult… They guide you,” says Alex O’Connor, a silversmith who recently studied on the Goldsmiths’ Centre’s business growth programme.
Alex is one of hundreds of people studying, training or working in the gold and silversmithing industry to have been supported by the Goldsmiths’ Company (a livery company and membership organisation). The Company has invested in apprenticeships, training and development of British craftspeople for 700 years – offering living skills and job opportunities for generations.
That is why the Goldsmiths’ Company is proud to be the founder sponsor of Goldsmiths North, celebrating, promoting and investing in some of the UK’s finest makers working in the industry today, giving them a voice and an opportunity to grow. It is estimated that workers with design skills contribute £209bn to the UK economy, according to the Design Council. However, the Design Council also cautioned in 2017 that skills shortages and gaps amongst those in design-skilled occupations cost the UK economy £5.9bn per year. That is why the Goldsmiths’ Company believes it has a vital role to play in helping British goldsmiths, silversmiths, and jewellers to flourish in a challenging and changing environment.
Supporting makers by promoting their work, providing opportunities to reach new audiences and inspiring people to buy handmade and commissioned pieces – through events like Goldsmiths North – is just one way they do this. The Company also runs the acclaimed Goldsmiths’ Fair, now in its thirty-seventh year and a must-attend event in the luxury shopping calendar. (See page 38 for more details.)
The Company’s largest single charitable gift in recent years was for £17.5m to set-up the Goldsmiths’ Centre, a unique facility in Clerkenwell, London, which opened in 2012. The Goldsmiths’ Centre brings together trainee and working goldsmiths and those interested in the industry into a unique community that works and learns together. As the government focuses on the importance of technical skills to the UK economy, the Goldsmiths’ Centre is pivotal to developing a skilled workforce in the sector and promoting craftsmanship in the UK, from offering business development courses to apprenticeships and badly needed affordable workshop space.
“I really admire what they do. I think the training they deliver and the way they are connecting people in the sector to each other is really exciting, innovative and relevant.” – Ella Fearon Lowe
Ella Fearon Lowe, an artist and jeweller, believes that the work of The Goldsmiths Company and Centre are essential to the industry. “I really admire what they do. I think the training they deliver and the way they are connecting people in the sector to each other is really exciting, innovative and relevant,” she comments.
The Company has a long history of philanthropy as part of its commitment to contribute to national life. In 2018, the Company and its Charity made grants of around £4m to support the craft, trade and industry; fund a range of educational projects; and help charities working in the areas of youth, criminal justice, and an ageing population.
In addition to charitable giving, the Goldsmiths’ Company has a statutory role to check the quality of jewellery and silver in its Assay Office and to apply the hallmark to protect consumers.
The term “hallmark” originates from marking metals at the Goldsmiths’ Hall in London, after testing it. The Company’s Assay Office also tests the coins produced by the Royal Mint each year to check they are up to standard at one of Britain’s oldest judicial processes – the Trial of the Pyx.
As the Goldsmiths’ Company approaches its 700th anniversary in 2027 it has ambitious plans to do more for those working in the craft, trade and industry and in its contributions to national life, from expanding the apprenticeship programme outside London to its role as a Founding Partner of the new. Watch this space!
If you’d like to know more about the Goldsmiths’ Company and its work, you can sign up for its monthly newsletter at: www.thegoldsmiths.co.uk/newsletter-sign-up