Birmingham’s School of Jewellery will be celebrating its 125th anniversary in 2015.
The School of Jewellery was founded in the early 1890s and is currently the world’s largest and most valued, proving to be a desired choice of jewellery education for international students in Asia.
Birmingham’s Jewellery Industry has had a boost; a result of the September 14/15 intake that saw over 80% of international students coming from countries in Asia.
This growth has been consistent for six years from a result of the UK jewellery and watch industry being valued at approximately £5 billion in comparison to Asian countries that are having trouble to fill their skills void in the jewellery trade.
One example of international students choosing to study at Birmingham’s School of Jewellery is 2001 graduate Fei Liu who first embarked on his journey to success from China.
After graduating from the School of Jewellery, Fei Liu later opened his first, Birmingham-based jewellery store in 2006; since then, his innovative and unique designs have earned him numerous of awards.
His designs have featured at many high-profile red-carpet events, and he has also been selected to design a plaque for David Beckham.
Fei spoke of his journey: “I was the Chinese student in the School of Jewellery. When I first came here, it was a huge challenge for my teacher to try and guess what I was trying to say. I come from a very reserved culture and I was fascinated by how open British culture is.
“Since I have been in the UK, my whole understanding of art and beauty has been turned upside down. European art history has become the most important influence in my understanding of art.”
Liu is currently using his knowledge and expertise to promote Birmingham’s trade both locally and internationally, as he uses his skills to create a bridge between the gap of the East and West.
“I want to tell the world how wonderful Birmingham is. It’s an important city for the nation but it has been neglected. I am very proud to call myself a semi-Brummie. I would like to be recognised as a British designer. I am proud of where I come from and Britain’s creative industry. Britain has driven the meaning of contemporary jewellery and I want to keep this going.”
Birmingham’s School of Jewellery won’t cease to offer life-changing stories like Fei’s; situated in the heart of the Jewellery Quarter, where a large of amount of British jewellery is manufactured to date.
The anniversary at the School will see an extensive programme of events to celebrate this milestone.
“We are immensely proud to be launching our 12th anniversary celebrations,” said Gaynor Andrews, head of the Birmingham School of Jewellery. “As a student of the School myself several years ago, and a member of staff since graduation, I have been actively involved in its development and witnessed many key changes. Not only in terms of the physical building, increased student numbers and a change in the student profile, but also the way jewellery as a subject has evolved globally.
He added, “The education we offer today equates with the diverse career opportunities and ambitions of our graduates in the current climate. Part of our unique offering is the extent to which we include the traditions of the trade right through to exploring materials and accessing cutting edge technology.
“These are the expectations of our student population, which creates a vibrant and exciting hub for jewellery, horology and gemmology. We have however almost come full circle now as the demand for the fine skills or the ‘lost’ craft skills from generation one are high on the agenda.”