A gift fit for a Pope

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Birmingham displays its jewellery talent for His Holiness

Marking the Pope’s recent visit to the UK, a team of skilled, dedicated and diverse craftsmen from Birmingham’s Jewellery Quarter demonstrated the wealth of talent they have by producing a bespoke civic gift in less than six weeks from start to finish.

Seeking an appropriate souvenir for the special visitor, Birmingham City Council commissioned a replica of the ‘crumpled cross’ found amongst the Staffordshire Hoard. The cross was ‘unfolded’ by Mark Watkins, a technologist from the JIIC, using artist impressions on screen, before his images were made into patterns. The five pieces that form the cross were then cut separately and soldered together before being plated in gold with garnet insets to make it look as it would have done in Anglo Saxon times.

Presented by Councillor Alan Rudge the final piece was given to Pope Benedict before he carried out mass in Cofton Park during his visit to Birmingham. The project is being praised as a perfect example of cooperation, where local skills and technical expertise were combined to produce a unique, Birmingham made, gift to mark this historic visit.

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Award-winning local silversmith Shona Marsh said “This was a fascinating project. I was honoured to have the opportunity to research the original cross and to reproduce it by working closely with some extremely talented and skilled outworkers in Birmingham’s Jewellery Quarter.”

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