Jewellery

Dominic Jones on his debut collection for The Royal Mint

Britain's oldest maker, The Royal Mint, has launched its first fine jewellery collection named '886' after the year it was founded. Here, the British jeweller responsible for re-making the Mint, Dominic Jones, reveals his inspirations for the new unisex pieces

11 August 2022

By Kim Parker

It’s not everyday that the UK’s oldest company decides to branch out into a new direction. But this year, Britain’s 1,136-year-old Royal Mint has revealed its first ever fine jewellery collection, designed by the award-winning jeweller, Dominic Jones, who was appointed its creative director in May.

The Royal Mint’s new 886 collection features sleek jewels that can be worn by everyone

As we transition to more cashless society, The Royal Mint (which is responsible for creating all of the coins in the UK), decided to diversify in order to protect the traditional skills of its craftsmen and offer them new opportunities. Inspired by the year of the Mint’s foundation, ‘886’ represents the historical institutions’s first foray into the luxury lifestyle sector.

“They approached me and asked how I would envision a brand for them, with everything made in the UK as close as possible to their base in Llantrisant, Wales,” recalls Jones, who was the very first jeweller to win the British Fashion Council’s NEWGEN award back in 2009 and has since seen his directional pieces worn by everyone from Beyoncé and to David Bowie. “This collection is the 27th that I’ve designed during my career so far, but the first to be produced entirely in the UK, including the campaign, which is really exciting.”

886 was inspired by the Mint’s heritage in coining and gold bullion

“I knew that if everything was produced here then it had to be a luxury offering, as you couldn’t compete with mass market jewellery being produced elsewhere. I spent time immersing myself in their museum, which gave me so much inspiration, starting with the idea that The Royal Mint was created as a trustworthy provider of a store of value through precious materials. It made me think of our jewellery as a wearable asset, a functional piece of bullion – so I took that form and warped and stretched it.” Inspiration also sprang, Jones adds, from the queries he receives from friends about where to buy the ‘perfect’ pair of hoops or simple gold band. “I wanted to create those easy-to-wear investment pieces that everyone loves.”

Cue sleek and deliberately understated earrings, collars, chains, cuffs and rings in solid gold and silver – all unisex and mostly produced in-house in South Wales (the rest is produced elsewhere in the UK) using the traditional method of ‘striking’ with heavy weights, rather than casting the molten metals into a mould. “It makes the pieces more solid and heavy, as well as giving them a silkiness that makes them a pleasure to wear,” says Jones. “They’re also more long-lasting and durable. I like to think of them as heirlooms in the making. They will definitely outlive us all.”

The 886 jewellery was produced using traditional ‘striking’ techniques

And if there’s ever a need for the jewellery to be broken down, many of the pieces, such as the cuffs, have markings on the inside to denote how much precious metal is used within them – another link to the Mint’s heritage as a store of value. Other pieces, like the cufflinks, have subtle designs inspired by the Mint’s own heraldry, produced with the proprietary technique of using ‘caustics’ to create watermark-like security features on precious objects.

In another future-proofing move, 886 is also the first luxury UK jewellery collection to use entirely recovered gold from recycled e-waste. To achieve this, The Royal Mint has partnered with Canadian clean tech firm Excir to extract pure gold from discarded mobile phones and laptops, providing a more sustainable source of precious metal.

Jones is already working on new extensions and collections for the line, which will also include homeware and stationery produced in collaboration with other UK makers such as Yard-O-Led and Makers Cabinet. “The aim is to create things which retain that durability and authenticity that The Royal Mint is famous for,” explains Jones. “What I’d like is to set up partnerships with other independent British brands, ones that I’ve been following for a while now, to safeguard a big part of our artisanal heritage for generations down the line. Hopefully, we can support and develop all these projects as we grow.”

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