On Thursday the 9th of November BAJ Birmingham welcomed recent graduates, guests, staff, and esteemed industry connections to the 2023 Final Show.
The memorable evening brought together the local community to celebrate the hard work of BAJ Birmingham’s learners. Set inside The Birmingham Assay Office, under the famous Guardian Timepiece, guests could view the vast array of jewellery created by BAJ learners over the past year.
The show was a celebration of artistry, featuring over 75 pieces from two cohorts, encompassing the exceptional work of apprentices as well. Each piece, a testament to the creativity and technical prowess instilled in learners during their time at BAJ, showcased a blend of course projects and personal endeavours undertaken throughout the year.
Before the awards were bestowed, Gary Wroe, the Managing Director of Hockley Mint, delivered a compelling keynote speech about his remarkable journey of personal and professional growth. This inspiring story serves as a testament to the diverse paths one can take in the jewellery industry, highlighting the importance of talent and dedication in keeping the industry vibrant and innovative. This keynote address left an indelible mark on the audience, encouraging BAJ’s aspiring jewellers to embrace their unique journeys within the ever-evolving landscape of the jewellery industry.
The prestigious industry awards began with The Andra Jewels Mandala Design Award, presented by Sterling Whorrie to Erica Combe “for her quality of finish.” Erica won a choice of hallmarking registration or Cooksongold vouchers, generously gifted by Andra Jewels.
Also presented by Sterling who said, “precision and fine details are hugely important aspects of making successful jewellery pieces,” The Andra Jewels Award for Technical Excellence went to Holly Ryan, who won either Hallmarking registration or Cooksongold vouchers.
Then from Cooksongold themselves, they presented The Award for Creative Excellence, bestowing this upon Janine Fox. Stuart Wibberley, the Sales Director from Cooksongold, said “This combines a high level of design and commerciality and will sell very well and shows a great level of creativity by the designer and maker.” Janine also won Cooksongold vouchers.
Continuing the ceremony, Payne & Son gave
The Rising Star Award to Louise Harrington, saying: “We were looking for quality of craftsmanship, individuality and a unique design that feels contemporary. Our winner, Louise, displays a high level of craftsmanship, showcases a diverse set of materials and a very individual design with a unique style.” Her prize was HS Walsh vouchers.
Next to be announced was The Hockley Mint Pret-a-porter Award, going to Emily Buckler Kim for her collection. Gary Wroe said of the decision, “This award is presented to a piece or collection that would be suitable for production. Judging has been extremely difficult tonight, however, this piece and the person who has designed these pieces could launch this collection with minimal adjustments or fuss. We believe this piece will sell well!”
Emily won a week’s work placement with Hockley Mint.
The last to be announced were the BAJ awards, chosen by our tutors. The award for Apprentice of the Year went to Holly Ryan, Miranda Sharpe (PB1 Lead Tutor) said “From the beginning this learner has been really committed to what they are trying to learn both with their employer and within their college work. They are always committed, they’ve always produced everything on time, to the highest of standards and always striving to do everything better than they already can.”
Next, Miranda presented The BAJ Learner of The Year Award for PB1 to Beth Chesser, saying “Bethany has created a good quality of work in everything they have done and has grown as an individual through their experiences with us.” The BAJ Learner of The Year Award for PB2 went to Louise Harrington, Miranda Sharpe said “Louise has developed a wide range of skills during their time here and have always been consistent in their commitment to what they have been learning.” The three aforementioned winners all received Cooksongold vouchers as their prize.
Lily Henderson, (Jewellery Diploma Coordinator), shared her thoughts on the event, “The Birmingham final show dazzled with the exceptional craftsmanship displayed by our Level 3 diploma learners. I was captivated by the profound dedication and passion evident in the work on show. It was truly heartwarming to witness the significance of the event and the
awards for each learner, reflecting their commitment and achievements. The unwavering support of the industry added an additional layer of importance to this event, to them I extend a huge thanks. Congratulations to the tutors in Birmingham, whose dedication has undoubtedly contributed to shaping a wonderful learning environment and extracting the utmost potential from our learners.”
Naomi Wilson (Learner Services & Recruitment Lead) shared similar sentiments, “To finally see the learners’ work up on display for this year’s final show was a delight! Both groups of students worked exceptionally hard, and this was evident in the pieces they produced. Watching them all progress over the months during their studies, improving in technical skills and then seeing how much they desired to push themselves creatively was very rewarding. I’m already excited for next year’s show!”
BAJ Birmingham’s tutors had glowing words to say about their cohorts and the event, “Firsts that gave me a thirst for more – my first diploma group, their first exhibition and first-time being part of the truly brilliant Birmingham team! I’m so proud of all the learners’ and apprentices’ achievements, they made me feel deeply appreciated and a tad emotional! The celebratory atmosphere and camaraderie were perfectly punctuated with generous awards and accolades from the jewellery and retail industry making it extra rewarding. Bravo – bring on next year!” – Collette Waudby (PB2 Lead Tutor.
“The BAJ Birmingham final show is a fantastic opportunity to reflect on the hard work of our cohorts in the preceding year and celebrate their achievements through showcasing their final projects. Our cohorts this year produced some fantastic pieces, and they should all be immensely proud of what they have achieved. The support of our industry sponsors adds to the event, welcoming our learners into the industry and having the opportunity to receive a special accolade.” – Miranda Sharpe.
The BAJ Birmingham Final Show not only celebrated the culmination of the learners’ hard work but also served as a testament to the excellence of the next generation of jewellers, silversmiths, designers, and manufacturers.
Do you want to be a part of this next generation of creators? BAJ is now accepting applications for September 2024 entry.