Ancient treasures that form part of the world-famous Staffordshire Hoard collection have been used as inspiration by students in Birmingham to create unique contemporary jewellery.
As part of the 125th anniversary celebrations of Birmingham City University’s School of Jewellery, Weston Beamor, Thomas Fattorini Ltd, and Hockley Mint have teamed up with students to create collections of contemporary jewellery inspired by the Staffordshire Hoard – the largest hoard of Anglo-Saxon treasure ever discovered.
Students at The School of Jewellery were invited to enter their designs into a competition for the chance to have them manufactured.
The winners were Natalia Antunivity’s pendant and earring suite, manufactured by Weston Beamor, Mahroz Mirzahekmati who designed a pendant based on the horse and being manufactured by Fattorini’s and Ching-I Chein who has designed a range inspired by the horse and being made by Hockley Mint.
The jewellery is to go on sale at Birmingham Museum & Art Gallery, with a percentage of all sales going towards funding important research projects into the Staffordshire Hoard, which is on display at the attraction.
Natalia Antunvity said: “I was particularly inspired by the patterns the craftspeople had made using individually cut garnets within the Hoard, I felt that I could use this superb craftsmanship as a starting point to design something contemporary, which whilst paying homage to these intricate patterns, celebrated them in something that is new and wearable today.”
Mahroz Mirzahekmati said: “When I first studied the amazing items in the Hoard I was impressed with not only the sheer age of the pieces but more importantly the quality of the craftsmanship that had gone in to making them. I was inspired to design something that was contemporary but that paid tribute to their history, the wealthy warriors who must have commissioned these pieces and this superb craftsmanship.”
Ching-I Chein said: “The animal ornament on some of the items in the Staffordshire Hoard gallery really inspired me, particularly the gold filigree creature which looks like a sea horse. I wanted my design to reflect the beauty of this creature that craftsmen created hundreds of years ago, but be contemporary and wearable today.”
The Staffordshire Hoard is owned by Birmingham and Stoke-on-Trent City Councils and is cared for on their behalf by Birmingham Museums Trust and the Potteries Museum & Art Gallery, Stoke-on-Trent. Objects from the Staffordshire Hoard Collection that inspired the budding jewellery makers are on display at both museums.
Louisa Stott, Central Buyer at Birmingham Museums Trust, said: “Birmingham has long been famous for its jewellery and we have been keen for some time now to sell more pieces that are produced locally. This collection from Weston Beamor, Fattorini’s and Hockley Mint is a perfect combination of the old and the new and we are optimistic that it will sell well.
The Staffordshire Hoard is undergoing one of the UK’s largest research projects. The last phase of the research, funded by Historic England and the owners, has just begun and focuses on analyzing the exquisite detail of the objects, unpicking the art, symbolism and craftsmanship of each item. Ultimately, the research will generate a publicly-available catalogue, so everyone can be inspired by these incredible objects.
“Thanks to the generosity of the manufacturers, a proportion of the sale of this jewellery will be donated to the research project to continue this important work.”
Glen Day, Head of Business Development at Weston Beamor, said: “We are very pleased to be a part of this exciting project. Natalia has real talent and we believe her designs are not only aesthetically pleasing but also have real commercial viability.”
Tom Fattorini said: “With our previous experience working on the Staffordshire Hoard, we jumped at the chance to collaborate with the 3 winning students of the School of Jewellery in creating pieces for sale. I was particularly taken by Mahroz’s striking interpretation of the iconic horse image and it will be very interesting to see which of the 3 pieces of jewellery the public are drawn to.”
Hockley Mint managing director Gary Wroe said: “We were truly impressed by the School of Jewellery students’ designs and the thought and skill that had gone into each of their entries. The elements of the Hoard that inspired the three winners were clear and we are thrilled to be able to support Crystal in making her collection a reality.”