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Goldsmiths’ Fair: A golden opportunity

Goldsmiths' Fair is fast approaching (26th September to 9th October) and with so much on offer at this selling-event open to the public, here are my insider tips for what to look out for this year to make the most of this treasure trove of jewels.

14 September 2011

Goldsmiths' Fair is fast approaching (26th September to 9th October) and with so much on offer at this selling-event open to the public, here are my insider tips for what to look out for this year to make the most of this treasure trove of jewels. The Goldsmiths' Company Fair or Goldsmiths' Fair as it is better known, held every autumn, comes but once a year. Miss it and you will have let slip through your fingers the biggest jewellery show of its kind in Europe and I dare say the world. Not only is it an opportunity to see some of Britain's most creative and prestigious jewellers all under one roof, but also a very clever and enjoyable way to buy jewellery direct from the makers. And here you will see the latest trends such as the first ever FairTrade gold jewels, fresh new designs and pioneering techniques. This is the place to talk to experienced master jewellers, bright young things, gem stone experts or get into the hip crowd. Savvy jewellery fans come to spot upcoming talent and 'buy in' early as they say. Stephen Webster, the hugely successful UK jeweller, is one such designer who started out at Goldsmith's Fair. So you may well spot the next Stephen Webster standing at his booth, willing to chat about his work and inspiration. As Goldsmiths' Fair can be overwhelming it is worth spending some time planning your visit. Being such a considerate Jewellery Editor, I have taken it on myself to help guide you through the rows of booths of jewellers and train you up for a really satisfying visit to the fair. Or cast aside my advice and spend happy hours wandering around the rows of exhibitors discovering the awe-inspiring range of work on show. On my first visit to the fair I bought two of my favourite pieces of jewellery so gut instinct is to be trusted when it comes to Goldsmiths' Fair. In the picture gallery above, you can see a range of styles and whether the exhibitor is in the first week (26th Sept- 2 Oct) or the second week (4th -9th Oct) or even in both weeks. See who is in Week 1 by clicking here or Week 2 by clicking here. I have also included a price for the piece to help guide you to your ideal jeweller. Prices start from £60 making this is the perfect place to sort out Christmas presents well in advance. Jewellers here offer plenty of ideas for gifts and there may even be time to commission something in time for December. The reasonable prices reflect the fact that with these jewellers, all your money is spent  on the jewel itself and not international marketing campaigns and plushly carpeted boutiques in pricey  locations. The Fair is divided into two weeks with a changeover of exhibitors, so to see all 107 jewellers, you will have to come twice.  But if you can make only one of the weeks, don't fret as every jeweller has been vetted by the organisers for their design approach, technical skills and integrity and there is a wide range to satisfy all tastes across both weeks. For the stealth visitor hunting down a fail-safe gift purchase I suggest you look online at the plan of the Fair so that you are familiar with the layout. If you work in the City you are one of the lucky ones who can nip into the Fair in your lunch break or on the way home as it closes at 7 pm on weekdays. Expect to see more experimenting with traditional jewellery techniques that push the boundaries of what fine jewellery can look and feel like with the work of Andrew Lamb (Week 1). Andrew can do amazing things with a long piece of gold or silver wire that he hand draws and then weaves, winds and spins them into mesmerizing jewels. Light ripples across these highly tactile pieces that combine traditional hand-crafting with laser welding. Tom Rucker (both Week 1 & 2) is another favourite of mine and his platinum nests made of hundreds of soldered fine platinum wires are a very chic style statement. So light are these cleverly-crafted constructions that you can wear large globes of metal without being weighed down. Melanie Ankers (Week 2) is another name that comes up when talk is of  how to make magic with metal and in particular silver. And while we are on the subject of gold,  one of the very first collections of FairTrade gold is on sale at German-born Ute Decker's stand (Week 2) whose minimalist "Pure" collection celebrates the arrival of this precious metal with a squeaky-clean conscious. If you like coloured stones don't miss Ben Day's (Week 1) beautiful opal rings that are so of the moment, graduate Milly Swire's (Week 1) colourful "Liquid" rings that give the overlooked gems to 'kerpow' status. Alison Bradley (Week 1 & 2) is another place to find a wealth of richly coloured stones. Ming, who as well as a goldsmith is a gemologist so one to look out for if carefully chosen gems set with a delicate exotic twist are your thing. Ingo Henn (Week 1), who comes from a family of stone carvers in Germany mixes enamels with opulently-proportioned coloured stones. I always have time for some contemplation of the serene work of Asian jewellers such as Kayo Saito (Week 1) and Yen (Weeks 1 & 2) or Hidemi Asano (Week 2) before heading off to talk to the London boys with their spiky, thorny jewels such as the well-established Shaun Leane (Week 1) or award-winning and darling of the moment Tomasz Donocik(Week 1). And I have saved the best piece of advice to last: wear comfortable shoes and take your time because Goldsmiths's is a delight to be savoured. The Fair is held at Goldsmiths' Hall

  • Week One - Monday, September 26 to Sunday, October 2
  • Week Two - Tuesday, October 4 to Sunday, October 9
  • NB. Closed Monday October 3 for change-over of exhibitors.

11am to 7.00pm Monday to Friday, 10am to 6.00pm Saturday and Sunday Last entries half an hour prior to closing time. Entrance by catalogue purchasable on the door (£7 for one week, £12 for two weeks)

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