Restoring An Iconic Heritage With Deakin & Francis
At Deakin & Francis, we are proud to work on many bespoke restoration projects such as the ongoing maintenance of The Lord Mayor of Birmingham’s Chain of Office.
As experts in bespoke jewellery, our team understand the unique privilege and responsibility of being able to work on such iconic historical items. For each bespoke project that we are entrusted with, our team of experts jewellers ensure that each piece is given the attention and care that is essential to bringing its unique story to life.
The Iconic Civic Chain
Lord Mayor Mohammed Azim is Birmingham’s 249th Lord Mayor and is committed to delivering the same passion and dedication to the people of the city as his predecessors have done since 1838.
The iconic Chain of Office which is worn by the Lord Mayor originates from the 1800s and has been passed down through generations who have overseen our vibrant city go through a multitude of industrial and social changes.
“I am the 249th Lord Mayor now, so it’s great to see the Chain of Office still with such amazing quality after all of this time! It’s amazing to see because a lot of the original features were made by hand, via very complicated hand-crafting. I’m very surprised whenever I see it because the designs are so advanced for its age!”
Our team here at Deakin & Francis understand the rich historical background of this piece and are thrilled to have been entrusted with the unique task of restoring this item and bringing the rich history of this piece back to life.
The Chain of Office is truly a testament to the skill and craftsmanship of its original creator many years ago, and working alongside the Lord Mayor’s office to restore this beautiful and unique piece has been a privilege.
Regarding the Chain of Office, Lord Mayor Azim said; “I’m very impressed! I’ve got a high regard for this piece. I’m very careful with it! I appreciate all of the efforts of those who made it, I’m very pleased and it’s a good credit for the city as well!”
A Unique Restoration
To this day, the Chain of Office remains an iconic part of the mayoral uniform and the intricate detailing featured on the chain showcases the best of traditional British craftsmanship and jewellery making, something which we proudly champion here at Deakin & Francis.
For the past five years Nigel, one of our senior jewellery makers, has been dedicated to the ongoing upkeep of this piece. We decided to sit down and speak with him about his journey with Deakin & Francis and his experience restoring the Lord Mayors Chain of Office.
Before working with us in our historic factory, Nigel was learning the craft here in the Jewellery Quarter for a brooch manufacturing jewellers for 15 years, followed by another 15 years working as a self-employed jeweller;
“I rented a small unit off Mr Deakin upstairs in the building for 15 years or so, doing mainly Deakin & Francis work. And then one day Mr Deakin asked if I would like to come down and actually work in-house and I jumped at the chance! I’ve been here since 1999 and I’ve been in the jewellery trade now for roughly 42 years.”
This background in jewellery making, both at Deakin & Francis and during his time self-employed, lent itself incredibly well to working on the Lord Mayors Chain of Office and equipped Nigel with the unique skills needed to successfully restore this piece; “Initially I was trained in brooch making. When I was self-employed and was working for Deakin & Francis, Mr Deakin and the rest of the team would give me jobs that I’d never been used to before so it was a pretty important learning curve really!”
“There were some unique and difficult pieces that we had to make. I pretty much had to learn on the go, but when I came in-house I then started to manufacture different pieces of jewellery. I had a lot of the core skills already, it was about adapting them to new techniques.”
When it came to working on the Chain of Office, Nigel used this rich knowledge and his classic training within the jewellery industry to restore this piece back to its original form: “Because of the age of the piece, there is a lot of work that needs to be considered and done. It was mostly goldwork through fatigue and age that needed special attention. I don’t actually put any heat on the badge now, I use lasers as otherwise the enamel on the piece is at risk of chipping and we don’t want that, you don’t want to spoil the provenance of it!”
Experts in Bespoke
At Deakin & Francis, we are known for our innovative designs, high-quality products, and a commitment to traditional British craft. All of these things combined have established us as one of the most established British jewellers for all bespoke pieces.
Having worked here for many years, we asked Nigel why he believes that Deakin & Francis has successfully continued to create bespoke pieces and how we have remained a leader in the jewellery making landscape in Britain; “I think our reputation in the Jewellery Quarter and beyond. Deakin & Francis have always been the place to work. I think that’s maybe part of it, all of the best want to work here. We do some quite high-end jewellery, we do stuff that’s out of the ordinary!”
Now that the Lord Mayors Chain of Office has been returned, Nigel commented on his experience restoring the piece saying; “I loved working on it because of the history behind the piece. It’s special! It’s priceless isn’t it really? The men and women that have worn it have been inspiring, it’s a great piece.”
To find out more about our bespoke services, contact us today.