The School of Jewellery at Birmingham City University and laser manufacturer Rofin-Baasel UK recently collaborated in the award of prizes for students on the HND Course in Jewellery and Silversmithing. The entire year group of 20 students was tasked with designing and making a “hero” piece with the brief being to show the use of laser technology as an enabling technique in jewellery manufacturing. Most of the students demonstrated the nature of laser welding as a low heat input process, choosing to put laser welds in close proximity to heat sensitive material (gemstones, wood or plastics), and a few using the laser to weld spring material or to connect the parts of the piece in a permanent and very strong joint. In addition, some of the students used laser cutting or engraving to assist in the manufacture of their pieces.
Laser welding and engraving systems are becoming commonplace in jewellery workshops in the UK, as more jewellers discover the precision and quality that can be achieved with low heat input welding or finest engraving. The School of Jewellery at BCU in Birmingham’s Jewellery Quarter and Rofin-Baasel UK have had a long relationship in the promotion of laser welding in jewellery workshops since the Jewellery Industry Innovation Centre bought their first laser welder in 1998. New technology can combine with traditional techniques to make stunning designs and repair or repurpose items of jewellery, and the School of Jewellery trains their students to mix the best of new technology with traditional bench skills to be well-placed in meeting the needs of jewellery employers.
Prizes for the top 3 designs were chosen by Jamie Costello, Sales Manager at Rofin-Baasel UK. The winning jewellery piece was a brooch designed and made by Sarah Parry who made a kinetic brooch, including some heat sensitive anodised aluminium.
Second prize went to Ophelia Stoker for her Art Deco necklace with laser cut clear acrylic inside a laser welded shell. Third prize was awarded to Yuying Hu for a wire frame and kinetic laser welded necklace with plastic beads. Runners up were Daniel Bollard for his cactus pot holder in wood and laser welded steel and Poppy Middleton for her necklace with a carnelian gemstone inside two half-shells laser welded together in 4 locations. Winners received cash prizes and the runners-up will have work experience opportunities arranged by Rofin-Baasel with laser-equipped jewellers in Birmingham or London.
Prizes were awarded in front of the whole year group at the Spring Fair exhibition on 7 February at the NEC by Jamie Costello from Rofin-Baasel and Jo Pond the course tutor from the School of Jewellery, assisted by tutors Kate Thorley and Dauvit Alexander.
Rofin-Baasel UK supplies laser sources and systems for laser material processing (welding, cutting, engraving and drilling) to customers in the UK and Ireland from its headquarters in Daventry, England.