Institute Of Professional Goldsmiths
The IPG only accepts craftspeople of the highest calibre into its membership. The highest level of membership is a “Fellow”, who would be entitled to have the letters FIPG (Fellow of the IPG) after their name. We also have a category for “Associate Fellows”, who are highly skilled, but still need to complete the minimum of ten years experience required to qualify for Fellowship. Our third category is that of "Members" who are recently qualified and working towards Associate Fellowship experience and standard. Our Fellows, Associate Fellows and Members design, build, create, decorate, and finish everything from Exquisite Jewels to Silverware to Grand Object D’art. Everything from a simple and perfect wedding ring, to the grand jewels on display in Bond Street, London.
In addition we seek to grow our membership and invite skilled crafts people from Europe as well as the UK to apply for membership. In this age of technology it is quite clear that the role of the skilled craftsperson is becoming all the more important. Technology is useful, but craft skills and true creativity cannot be emulated by robots. The finest jewels are made with skill and passion, not binary code and machines.
The Origin of the IPG
A Brief History of the Institute of Professional Goldsmiths by Paul Podolsky FIPG
With acknowledgements to Michael Page FIPG and Len Wilcox FIPG
It all started at the Sir John Cass School of Jewellery, now a part of London Metropolitan University. When the transition took effect that changed its status from Polytechnic to University, new appraisals were introduced, among them the BA(Hons) degree which could also lead to an MA. Most of the teaching staff were craftspersons who had learned their trades at the bench, from apprenticeship to high skills, as diamond-mounters, stone setters, engravers, enamellers, silversmiths designers and goldsmiths.
Michael Page, the senior lecturer on jewellery felt it was an anomaly insofar as the students who graduated would achieve the recognition of a degree, as opposed to those who trained them who had no special identity. He conferred with some colleagues, Len Wilcox, Syd Wickham and Ralph Hollingdale, and the idea of the IPG was conceived. A meeting was convened at the Sir John Cass and was well attended by members of the trade as well as the teaching staff.
The first committee was elected. Michael Page as chairperson, George Lukes, vice-chair for a short while until he resigned due to other commitments, Len Wilcox, Hon. Secretary, Syd Wickham, treasurer, Ralph Hollingdale. The rest of the committee was categorised under trade headings, and consisted of:
Martin Billings, Neil Oliver, David Davis, John Ringer, Phil Barnes, John Taylor, Fiona Lukes, John Bennett and Eric Parker.
This took place in May 1984. The objectives of the IPG were to maintain the highest standards of craftsmanship and training. To collaborate with other trade organisations in the furtherance of excellence and to promote appreciation of the trades’ profile. Membership was open to all who had served a minimum of four years as an apprentice, while the Fellowship and use of the suffix FIPG would go to those with a further ten years experience, who would also need to satisfy the Executive that their skills merited this distinction.
The IPG was impelled by the enthusiasm of its committee and members and was funded by a modest subscription. There were social functions where members could get to know each other better. Martin Billings the vice-chair edited a Newsletter; issue No. 1 reported the final address by the Chairman, Michael Page after completing three years as did Len Wilcox its Hon. Secretary. It is entitled “Chairman’s hopes and aspirations” and Michael announced that the Institute would in 1986/7 present the Crafts Council (Goldsmiths) with a sponsored award of £250.00 on behalf of the IPG. There was a successful promotions exercise in Birmingham and he stressed the need to continue supporting the IPG on a national basis. The Newsletter gave information on copyright infringements, a Department of Environment grant for job splitting, a device to help craftspersons increase their skills, and the question of income tax relief on the members annual subscriptions. In due course the Newsletter became the Drillstock, and a logo was established. Practical help was obtained by employing part time secretaries, from D Maxted-Jones to DP Morris, Kathy McGree, Carole Parker, Emma Lidster and currently Adrian Mohr, and it is fair to state that all of them gave far more than the limits their part-time employment implied, for which the IPG should be grateful.
There has been a good relationship with other facets of the trade, particularly with the Goldsmiths’ Craft Council where some of our Fellows serve, and others win awards.
The noble initiative of the Goldsmiths’ Company in creating the Goldsmiths’ Centre for training apprentices and newcomers to the trade has excited keen interest and a desire by IPG members to be of help.
Not all the craftspersons in the trade belong to the IPG, but it continues to grow in numbers and influence and one hopes that more will realise that the IPG has attracted respect and prestige where it matters, and apply to join. There is a wealth of latent aptitude in the peoples of the UK and we can justifiably claim to have produced some of the world’s great craftspersons in the past and present. The existence of the IPG will ensure that this will continue.