Fiona Harris has been announced by the Museum of the Jewellery Quarter to be its first ‘Jeweller in Residence’, a project which aims to support emerging jewellery designers.
Harris, who previously studied at Birmingham City University School of Jewellery, is the first designer to be crowned with the title. As part of the prize Harris, who is based in Nottingham, has been given the opportunity to work from the Museum of the Jewellery Quarter’s workshop for the next year and have her bespoke handcrafted jewellery sold in the museum’s acclaimed shop.
The initiative by Museum of the Jewellery Quarter, in partnership with Birmingham City University’s School of Jewellery, aims to offer opportunities to up-and-coming jewellery designers and asked entrants to design a two-piece jewellery range inspired by the historic Smith & Pepper jewellery manufacturing firm at the museum.
The designer said she had a “strong belief” that jewellery shouldn’t be saved for a special occasion but “loved, cherished and worn every day”. The winning designs will go into production and be available to buy online at shop.birminghammuseums.org.uk and in the Museum of the Jewellery Quarter shop. It will be available just before Christmas.
The prize also includes £1000 to support Harris’ work and she will be based at the jeweller’s bench at the museum on a regular basis from October to showcase her work.
The Museum of the Jewellery Quarter is built around the Smith & Pepper jewellery manufacturing factory. In 1981, when the proprietors of the firm retired, they simply ceased trading and locked the door. Today, the factory is a museum, which tells the unique story of the Jewellery Quarter and Birmingham’s renowned jewellery and metalworking heritage.
Alex Nicholson-Evans commercial director from Birmingham Museums Trust said: “It has been fantastic to partner with the School of Jewellery on this project. At the Museum of the Jewellery Quarter we celebrate the heritage of the area, but it is also important to support the next generation of jewellery designers too.
“Fiona’s designs stood out as she had carefully considered the history of the Jewellery Quarter to inspire her modern take on the brief. The designs are very wearable and we are looking forward to welcoming Fiona to the museum and to begin selling the stunning pieces.”
Harris added: “I am absolutely thrilled and honoured to be chosen to be the first Jeweller in Residence at the museum and I am excited to get started and finalise my designs. The Museum of the Jewellery Quarter is a fantastic place and I still cannot believe I am going to have the opportunity to work at this amazing site surrounded by so much history.”