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A chance to learn from the jewellery master Garrards
4 min read
Perpetuating traditions and craftsmanship may be a common goal among luxury houses. But with Garrard’s heritage of crowning royal heads, the ambition becomes sizeable.
The brand has nurtured a longstanding relationship with the British royal family and created for each successive generation iconic jewels, the preeminent one being the Queen Mothers crown. As the longest-serving jeweller in the world – its origins can be traced back to 1735 -, Garrard understands the utmost importance of maintaining uncompromised quality of materials, detailed techniques and talent.
This year, Garrard is reviving its apprenticeship scheme with the aim to form the next generation of skilled professionals. This initiative is powered by the Company of Goldsmiths and the Goldsmiths’ Centre, a recently established charity running courses in jewellery and silversmithing. To reach master craftsmen’s high level of expertise, apprentices shadow their mentor and repeat a specific gesture over and over to perfect it.
“We need to keep our craftsmanship traditions alive by passing them on through the generations,” comments Garrard’s Chief Executive Joanne Milner.
To master the infinitely complex craft of jewellery masterpieces, apprentices set off on a five-year learning journey. For Rob Dean, Garrard’s first apprentice in over a decade, the process has been very insightful. He discovered through the Goldsmiths Centre’s year-long foundation programme a deep interest in the “small work” of jewellery. After a trial at Garrard, he decided to train as a diamond mounter – whose work is to forge the metal framework that holds the precious stones.
Combining ancestral know-how with innovative techniques, Rob and the other apprentices develop fine making skills with leading, international specialists such as Garrard. One of the main techniques involves working with a blowtorch rather than a laser while respecting the properties of each metal. The process can be time-consuming, but the result never falls short of excellence.
Aside from the skillset and dexterity needed, Garrard’s exceptional calibre lies in the quality and sustainability of the materials. Diamonds utilised by the prestigious jewellery house are ethically sourced, following the Kimberley Process – an international certification scheme that prevents conflict diamonds from entering the market.
Garrard is also licensed to purchase Fair Trade gold, ensuring that small-scale and artisanal miners receive a fair price for their work as well as community support through education, medical care and environmental projects. Working conditions, health and safety are strictly regulated while policies promote women’s rights and environment protection.