On Monday 23rd August, Hope competition winner Livi Mitchell was invited, along with her parents and friend Isla for an exclusive behind the scenes tour of the Birmingham Assay Office.
The first stop was the Hallmarking floor, where Livi and Isla had a go at handmarking, the most traditional method of hallmarking, and carried out by using a punch and hammer.
The next stop was the Gemm-ological Lab, a fully equipped laboratory specifically designed to assess and provide reports for diamonds, gemstones and pearls. Both Livi and Isla eagerly pressed the button on the diamond laser inscription machine, used to inscribe personalised messages or certificate numbers onto diamonds. They watched in amazement as their names were inscribed onto a 1ct cubic zirconia, and although virtually invisible to the naked eye, they were able to view through a microscope.
After learning about gemstones, they made their way to SafeGuard Valuations. An independent jewellery valuation service that values thousands of precious jewellery, watches and silverware for private customers. The service is also available in over 1,000 high street retailers throughout the UK.
The final stop was the Analytical lab, the leading Nickel testing lab in the UK. Donned in their very own personalised lab coats and protective glasses, Livi and Isla had a guided tour of the lab, learning the intricate processes involved in gold and silver analysis as well as nickel testing.
After a delicious afternoon tea, served in the silver room, surrounded by a collection of spectacular objects created by some of Birmingham’s most celebrated Silversmiths, CEO and Assay Master, Doug Henry, presented Livi with a book written about Birmingham Assay Office’s founder, Matthew Boulton, selling what all the world desires.
Livi said “it’s been the best day of the school holidays!”