Three Birmingham City University (BCU) School of Jewellery (SoJ) students demonstrated exactly what is possible with a small bag of semi-precious stones and a huge amount of imagination, ingenuity and skill, as Weston Beamor (WB) announced the winners of their annual Live Project on Tuesday 5th February at Jewellery & Watch, at the Birmingham NEC.
This year’s winner, Bethan Cubbin, designed a striking, yet delicate piece featuring emerald and marquise cut diamonds. The judges selected Bethan’s ring as the winner, as they felt that it well and truly hit all aspects of the brief, although the team at WB acknowledged that all three rings were of an extremely high standard, making the final selection especially difficult. Samantha Conroy and Owen Phillip Lee placed second and third place.
This year’s theme was cocktail rings, a trend that has experienced a huge resurgence thanks to Meghan, Duchess of Sussex; the class were tasked with creating a signature ring around a coloured semi-precious gemstone which they selected blind from a ‘lucky dip’ bag. Students also had to create branding and a retail ‘launch’ print advert to complement their design. The annual competition is open to all 2nd year BCU SoJ Higher National Diploma in Jewellery Manufacturing students.
WB The Creative Jewellery Group Managing Director, Andrew Morton, said: “Each piece was high calibre, and this is a reflection of the high standard of education and training being delivered at BCU. To design a piece of jewellery that is on trend, can be manufactured at scale and also priced right, is no mean feat. It’s fantastic to see this level of skill and passion being developed and nurtured in Birmingham.”
WB Business Manager, Ed Hole said: “Every year we are extremely pleased with the standard of work. The students have to think about a lot of factors other than just the design, such as commerciality and the understanding of the relevant production processes. It’s also their first project in CAD, so being able to create a manufacture-ready model is really impressive. The three winners did a great job, but the whole class should all be proud of themselves.”
Commenting on her win, Bethan said: “I’m overwhelmed, especially when compared to Samantha and Owen – it could have been any one of us! To get into the top three was prize enough. To win is just amazing. We have such a lovely class and we’ve all really enjoyed the process, although it was quite stressful at times as you want everything to be perfect! I’m really proud and pleased to have won; it was definitely worth the hard work and stress!”
BCU SoJ Tutor (HND Jewellery & Silversmithing) Katy Tromans, said: “This has been another fantastic year, working closely with the Weston Beamor team, and giving our students an introduction to CAD with a live brief. The project gives them the opportunity to learn the importance of sticking to deadlines and the realities of working within the jewellery industry. A big thank you to the team at WB for producing such high-quality realisations of the students designs. It has been fantastic to see the making process on social media and to enjoy their award presentations at Jewellery & Watch.”
A prototype of each finalist’s ring was produced, overseen by WB Senior CAD Designer Anousca Hume, and exhibited on the WB stand throughout Jewellery & Watch 2019. All finalists will receive a week’s work experience at WB, where they will engage in a structured programme designed to further reinforce CAD design, jewellery manufacturing and 3D printing processes. Bethan was also rewarded with £500; Samantha and Owen received £250 and £100 respectively.