Glenn Chapman has been a Goldsmith for over 40 years, get to know him here with this short Q&A.
Q: What made you want to train to become a Goldsmith?
A: I don’t know exactly what it was that made me want to become a Goldsmith. All I know is that it was something I wanted to do from when I was very young. I made my first piece when I was about 8 years old and it went from there.
Q: You were one of the last to be trained by Cartier London, how did you get that apprenticeship with them?
A: Pure luck. My father happened to know someone whose cousin was Alex Parkes, he worked for Wright and Davis, which was Cartier’s small working workshop and he just happened to be looking for an apprentice.
Q: Do you still enjoy Goldsmithing just as much as when you first started out years ago? What is the best part of your day?
A: Yes, I do still love it. I love working out how to do what it is that I need to do, the technical side of things. Once you work out how to do it you can really get going then.
Q: What is the biggest change that you’ve seen in the Goldsmithing industry over the years you have been in the trade?
A: 1979 was the biggest change that I remember. When Margaret Thatcher got into power she changed the money rules in parliament, which meant that you could then import and export different amounts of money. This saw the absolution of the gold licence, which is what you would receive at the end of your apprenticeship – it would enable you to be able to buy gold. Before this, unless you had served an apprenticeship, you were not allowed to buy gold, the absolution meant that anyone could buy gold and call themselves a goldsmith. It just went from there. This started the mass production of jewellery and sadly some of the good workshops began to disappear.
Q: What is a typical day like in the workshop for The Goldsmithy? What do you listen to while you work?
A: A typical day at The Goldsmithy begins with looking at what I must do and making sure I have the right materials to allow me to be able to get on with what it is that I am working on. Hopefully by the end of the day I will have progressed on what it is I am doing. I typically listen to audiobooks while in the workshops.
Q: What is your favourite piece that you have created?
A: There have been so many pieces. I did make an absolutely gorgeous cigarette box once, that was when I was with Grant MacDonald. It was quite simple, but it turned out really nice. I liked that one.
Q: What has been the most challenging piece that you’ve created?
A: Probably the Game of Thrones Ring, it wasn’t so much making it but trying to get it too look like what it was supposed to be. It took me around 40 hours in total but it’s nice to know that it’s the only one in 18ct gold and silver around.
Q: What challenges do you face within the workshop?
A: We don’t have a huge workshop so sometimes that is a struggle. Making sure that each order is ready and on time for customers can be a challenge as well. We typically have a 6-8 month lead time as we must send it off to be engraved and hallmarked and to have stones set etc. so we have to allow time for this.
Q: What is it like working as part of a family business? Are you glad that Paul found a passion for Goldsmithing as well to join you in the business?
A: Yes. We have our moments, but everything is going well, and Paul is also learning well on his apprenticeship. I’m learning new things with every job I do as well because of it. It is a great dynamic to have in the workshop.
Q: What may people not know about you? A fun fact about Glenn?
A: I work on my MG, renovating it. I’ve been working on it in any spare time for about 2 years now. I’ve done all of the interior and the engine, just not the engine. It is still ongoing though.
Q: Whats your favourite holiday destination?
A: Fuerteventura, we went twice last year alone, we’ve been going for the last 11 years, we love it there.
Q: What has been your worst situation in the trade?
A: Finding out the Cartier was closing their workshop down all those years ago was hard. I began to start moving around different workshops but never found one that came close to Cartier.
Q: How long was your apprenticeship?
A: 5 years and then 2 years improving. I went to Grant McDonalds for the first year of improvement and then another company called Cook and Goldsmiths who sat me next to a ring mounter as they wanted me to learn that side of the trade, I was trained in small work originally.