The Goldsmiths’ Company Charity has presented a cheque of £436,000 to Professor Paul Midgley and Dr Louise Hirst from the Department of Materials Science and Metallurgy at the University of Cambridge, to fund pioneering new research into precious metals, used for jewellery and silverware through the Goldsmiths’ Company programme. The funding includes three new PhD studentships at Cambridge that will help develop expertise in the field.
Dr Louise Hirst, niece of the late renowned silversmith and former Goldsmiths’ Company Prime Warden, Stuart Devlin, will be looking at the holy grail of silversmithing – silver that does not tarnish. She said: “While growing up, visiting Stuart Devlin’s studio and seeing his work in progress was always exciting. I am very pleased that our department now has the opportunity to investigate precious metals, in particular, the surface science of silver to limit tarnishing and so contribute to the future of silversmithing.”
The Goldsmiths’ Company programme in precious metals research, which will be based at Cambridge’s Department of Materials Science and Metallurgy, will build on the University’s strengths in the study of materials. The Department is one of the world’s leading centres in the study of materials and metals and this funding marks exactly 100 years since the Goldsmiths’ Company Charity gave Cambridge a cheque to set up the Goldsmiths’ Laboratory.
Tim Schroder, Prime Warden of the Goldsmith’s Company said that the PhDs would contribute to the UK’s standing as a centre of excellence for research into precious metals: “A key objective of the Goldsmiths’ Company is to contribute to national life. The PhD studentships and our own research, through the new Materials Congress launching this July, are all designed to help position the United Kingdom as a leading country for precious metal research. We look forward to supporting further scientific advances in this area as we approach the 700th Anniversary of the Company’s first Royal Charter in 2027.”