Heritage Crafts and The Royal Mint award four new bursaries


Heritage Crafts and The Royal Mint award four new bursaries

Following the success of last year’s inaugural bursaries, The Royal Mint and Heritage Crafts have revealed the recipients four more bursaries to preserve and champion traditional craft skills related to precious metals.

Heritage Crafts and The Royal Mint received dozens of applications from aspiring precious metal craftspeople, keen to learn from some of the greatest makers across the United Kingdom. Following shortlisting and interviews, four successful recipients were selected, all of whom show huge potential but require additional financial support in order to progress their careers.

The four successful applicants of the bursary scheme will each benefit from up to £4,000 in funding, as well as one-to-one support from Heritage Crafts and The Royal Mint.

Richard Barber from Preston will train with renowned jewellery maker Robin Girling in all aspects of stone setting in silver, gold and platinum, with a particular emphasis on ‘fantasy pave’ and ‘micro pave’ setting. Richard has recently set up his own business selling jewellery largely by word of mouth. The techniques he learns on this bursary will enable him to professionalise his offer so jewellery making can become his full-time occupation.

Andreia Gomes from London will train at the VS Jewellery School in Hatton Garden. She plans to work primarily with gold, but also platinum and palladium, focusing on stone setting and mounting, and casting using the lost wax method. Andreia’s enhanced skills will allow her to secure better opportunities within the jewellery trade, before eventually setting up her own studio.

Horatio Hawes from Nottinghamshire will extend his internship at Lancaster Armouries, with one-to-one training from master armourer Matthew Finchen, alongside a number of other short courses. His plans are to further explore the use of precious metals within armour making, combining blacksmithing, silversmithing, and goldsmithing techniques in wearable works of art.

Lily Smith from Dundee will train with Sheffield-based Warren Martin in the craft of silver spinning – the process of shaping a flat silver disk into a hollow item on a lathe, over a former known as a ‘spinning chuck’. It is a critically endangered craft on Heritage Crafts’ Red List of Endangered Crafts with fewer than 15 practitioners in the UK. Lily will use her new skills to spin for the trade, and would like to pass the craft on to others in the future.

The new bursaries follow five previous bursaries awarded in 2023, to silversmiths Iona Hall and Emma-Jane Rule, silver spinners Claire Mooney and Caius Bearder, and jewellery maker Rosie Elwood.

The Royal Mint’s mission is not only to create beautifully crafted, iconic products but also to lead the way in sustainable practices, ensuring that precious metals retain their value and significance for future generations. It crafts investment bullion, coins and heirloom jewellery using pioneering new techniques to protect their future potential, such as reclaiming metals like the gold found in electronic waste and the silver from hospital x-rays. Recovered precious metal is being used to create beautiful jewellery pieces in its latest business venture, 886 by The Royal Mint.

Anne Jessopp, CEO of The Royal Mint, said:

“The Royal Mint is an exemplar of British craftsmanship and we are proud to embrace our duty of promoting, protecting and celebrating British craftsmanship for generations to come. I am thrilled to support this second cohort of precious metal bursary recipients in partnership with Heritage Crafts, and to following the success of all our bursary recipients.”

Daniel Carpenter, Executive Director of Heritage Crafts, said:

“Our partnership with The Royal Mint speaks to the very core of our mission in safeguarding and celebrating traditional craft skills as being of vital importance to the cultural, social and economic life of the UK. We are thrilled to have helped set Richard, Andreia, Horatio and Lily on the path to success in their burgeoning precious metal careers.”

Jay Blades MBE, Co-Chair of Heritage Crafts, said:

“We are delighted to award the second year of bursaries in partnership with The Royal Mint. Their passion for the preservation of British craftsmanship aligns so well with our mission to safeguard these skills for the next generation. Based on the success of last year, we know that these bursaries will provide unique opportunities to precious metals craftspeople that would not previously have been possible.”

This is a part of an ongoing partnership between Heritage Crafts and The Royal Mint that also saw the presentation of the first ever Precious Metalworker of the Year Award in November 2023, to watch dial enameller Sally Morrison from Glasgow, during a special reception at the College of St George, Windsor Castle, and featuring a trophy specially made by The Royal Mint team. In addition, the two organisations hosted a symposium of precious metal practitioners from across the UK at Somerset House in July 2023 to identify the issues facing the sector and what might be done to relieve them.