Coleraine Probus were given a unique peek into the world of beautiful designer jewellery, when goldsmith Robert Spotten can along to talk about his work at a recent meeting.
After completing a basic Jewellery course at the Tech College, Robert applied to a local jeweller for a job.
As part of his interview, he was given the task of making in silver, a Star of David in a circle, about the size of a 10p piece - it is more complicated than it looks
because of the many angles, which have to be exact. The test took him a day and a half (Robert said that these days it would take him about three hours), but the Jeweller must have been happy as he took him on as an apprentice.
Robert stayed with the Coleraine shop for 17 years, learning his trade and developing his skills, but times got tough and he lost his job when the shop closed its doors for the last time. This was the impetus to get Robert and his wife to think about going into business themselves as designers and makers of fine jewellery.
Club members were then treated to a remarkable slide presentation of examples of Robert’s work together with an explanation of how these pieces were crafted.
A few years ago Robert took some time off work to study for a fine arts degree at the
University of Ulster. This he gained with honours and in fact, the Arts Council on viewing his degree pieces so liked the work that they purchased it for display at the Arts Council.
Robert’s rapidly growing reputation as an imaginative and skilled goldsmith was advanced even further when he was commissioned by the Coleraine Council to create a white gold replica of the Bann Disc, which was presented to her Majesty the Queen on her recent visit to the borough.
Quite a lot of Robert’s current work is in ‘upcycling’ older jewellery for people. This is often in the form of combining two or more pieces; family heirlooms, rings or brooches that are no longer fashionable; are of great sentimental value, but not suitable to ware, etc.
Again, Robert showed the members examples of this work. The intricacy of the fine detail on many of the pieces shown was almost breathtaking and several members were muttering ‘how did he do that?’