A talented local jewellery designer has been crowned the Museum of the Jewellery Quarter’s second Jeweller in Residence. Winning designer, Vanessa Miller, will work from the museum regularly over the next year creating an exclusive new jewellery range as part of a project which aims to promote local designers through a partnership with the Birmingham City University School of Jewellery.
Vanessa, whose own business is based in the Jewellery Quarter, shone through to win the competition with her creative designs. Vanessa now has the exciting opportunity to regularly work from the Museum of the Jewellery Quarter’s perfectly preserved workshop. Her handcrafted jewellery range will also be exclusively sold in the museum’s acclaimed shop, which has recently undergone a refurbishment, and online at shop.birminghammuseums.org.uk/collections/jeweller-in-residence.
The competition ran by the Museum of the Jewellery Quarter, in partnership with Birmingham City University’s School of Jewellery, aims to offer opportunities to budding jewellery designers and graduates of the university. Entrants were asked to design a two-piece jewellery collection inspired by the iconic snake range produced by the historic Smith & Pepper factory, which the museum is built around.
Vanessa is an independent jewellery designer-maker who runs workshops in the city. She graduated from the School of Jewellery with Distinction in Jewellery and Silversmithing (HND) in 2016. She took inspiration from the Smith & Pepper sketch books and has reflected some of the classic shapes into her winning designs.
The prize also includes £1000 to support Vanessa’s work and she will be based at the jeweller’s bench at the museum on a regular basis to showcase her work. The first pieces in the new collection, the tree snake earrings and winding snake ring, are available now online and at the Museum of the Jewellery Quarter shop, making the pieces unique festive gifts.
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, this factory is a museum that is part of Birmingham Museums Trust and tells the unique story of the Jewellery Quarter and Birmingham’s renowned jewellery and metalworking heritage.
The shop at the museum has recently been transformed into a bright and open space and is now stocking an even larger array of unique jewellery from local jewellers, including the jeweller in residence range, and bespoke gifts, along with a new range of books. There is also a new welcome desk and a window which offers an insight into the historic jewellery factory.
Alex Nicholson-Evans, Commercial Director from Birmingham Museums Trust, said: “It has been fantastic to partner with the School of Jewellery on this project once again. At the Museum of the Jewellery Quarter we celebrate the heritage of the area, but it is also important for us to support the designers of today.
“The first year of the project was such a success and we are thrilled to welcome Vanessa to the museum to showcase her skills to visitors over the year ahead. Her designs will also be available in our new-look shop, adding to our range of stunning jewellery for sale, which supports local designers.”
Vanessa Miller said: “I am excited to be selected as Jeweller in Residence at the Museum of the Jewellery Quarter with my interpretation of the competition brief. I feel privileged to be presented with this wonderful opportunity to work in such a historic and important building here in Birmingham’s Jewellery Quarter. Looking through the archive of sketches is so inspiring, and I am eager to try and incorporate some of the beautiful shapes into my designs.”
See the locally crafted jewellery for sale online and at the Museum of the Jewellery Quarter at: www.instagram.com/jewelleryquarterdesigns/.