At the close of play on the last day of Goldsmiths’ Fair 2008 some 11,000 visitors had come to Goldsmiths’ Hall to admire and purchase from the 160 jewellers and silversmiths who had exhibited over the two weeks.
Despite the 26th Goldsmiths’ Fair opening at a time when the world’s financial markets were in ‘meltdown’ the Fair proved ever popular. Both its loyal following and many new clients visited the Fair – a total figure which was only marginally down on last year’s attendance.
While buying and commissioning was undoubtedly slower with most exhibitors reporting a degree of cautiousness and hesitancy among clients, nonetheless sales proved very positive across the board. Paul Dyson, Director Promotion the Goldsmiths’ Company said: “The Company is extremely proud to be able to host this annual event in support of the trade and once again Goldsmiths’ Fair was a showcase of fantastic and original talent, presenting the most exceptional variety of stunning jewellery and very exciting stylish silverware.”
As in previous years awards for ‘Best New Merchandise’ were allocated in both weeks. Week One was judged by journalist and design and applied art-critic Corinne Julius who felt that silversmith Vladimir Böhm had raised his stakes by taking his stunningly original silver vessels applied with layers of pale enamels to ambitious new levels. While in Week Two Annoushka Ducas, founder of Links, was impressed by Fei Liu’s latest ‘Whispering Collection’ a range of jewellery inspired by the orchid flower and made with different coloured gold and set throughout with diamonds and precious stones. With an innovative feature of a specially designed claw which serves two purposes – functionality and adding to the design element -Fei’s new range is attractive and commercial.
Past patrons are always hugely supportive of the Fair and four evenings over the two weeks were dedicated to this group, all of which were oversubscribed and proved very important to exhibitors. Two charity evenings also took place – the first for ‘Help the Hospices’ and the second for ‘Gabbitas’. The former included a fashion show where jewellery by exhibitors was beautifully and effectively styled with this season’s designs by couturier Ulrich Engler. The charity evenings proved successful for both the charities concerned and exhibitors.
Sensibly all the exhibitors began the Fair with little or no expectations given the economic situation but the majority left pleasantly surprised – a few even reported their best Fair ever. All however were quite confident that the number of follow-up sales in the lead up to Christmas would be high.
Martyn Pugh, who has exhibited at all of the past 26 Goldsmiths’ Fair showed himself to be upbeat by unveiling a pure gold claret jug at the Fair at a time when sales of gold were at an all time high! The jug, weighing 2.1 kilos and standing 38cms high, is made of 99 percent pure gold with an alloy of one percent titanium and was a special commission for one of Martyn’s long standing clients.
Well-established jeweller Jane Adam exhibited at the Fair for the first time having recently developed a new range of jewellery in precious metals. Jane said: “I thoroughly enjoyed my first experience of Goldsmiths’ Fair and was delighted at the response to my new work particularly the more important pieces which was extremely encouraging.”
For many of the exhibitors the Fair is not just about sales but it’s about assessing their work in view of the response and reaction it provokes with clients. For example, another first time exhibitor Nicholas Yiannarakis felt that it provided him with valuable feedback – something that he never gets working on his own in his workshop. The access to new high calibre clients, from both the United Kingdom and abroad, including France, the USA, and Canada is another key advantage of exhibiting at Goldsmiths’ Fair.
Ten recent graduates also benefited from the Fair with a free stand and a bursary from the Company. Their average sales take for the week was £8,085 each but all felt the experience and what they learnt as a result was worth so much more.
The dates for next year’s Fair are Week 1 from September 28 to October 4 and Week 2 from October 6 to October 11.