Silversmith Ben Ryan wins royal commission thanks to Goldsmiths’ Company’s recommendation

HRH The Princess Royal

Award winning designer Ben Ryan was recently commissioned to design and produce The Perpetual Master’s Badge for HRH The Princess Royal on behalf of The Worshipful Company of Saddlers, one of the City of London’s oldest Livery companies. 

Ryan was recommended by the Goldsmiths’ Companyas a possible candidate to undertake the prestigious commission, and his design was chosen by a committee from a number of entries submitted by various artists. 

After months of work the badge was recently presented to Her Royal Highness where she was made The Perpetual Master of The Saddlers’ Company at the Installation Court ceremony held in its magnificent livery hall. This title only ever goes to a member of the Royal family, and The Princess Royal will retain it for life.

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The unique badge is made from a mixture of materials including 18 carat white and yellow gold, enamel, sapphires and diamonds. The settings that hold the stones have been designed in an open scallop set fashion, echoing the U-shaped form of a horseshoe, allowing maximum light to reach each and every stone. The design itself displays The Saddlers’ company crest sporting their motto ‘hold fast, sit sure’, whilst the open fretwork allows the piece to be substantial in size without being too heavy to wear. Positioned above the badge is the solid blue royal cypher finished off in the style of the badge with sapphires and diamonds around its perimeter edge and this, in turn, is attached to a ribbon made by Eden Ravenscroft, London’s oldest tailor.

HRH The Princess Royal’s affiliation with the equestrian world makes her the ideal person to be The Perpetual Master of The Saddlers’ Company, which supports, encourages and promotes the British saddlery industry, not least to ensure its equipment is made to the highest possible standards for the safety and comfort of both the horse and the rider.  The Saddlers’ Company has only ever had two previous Perpetual Masters – Frederick, Prince of Wales from 1737 to 1751 and Prince Arthur, Duke of Connaught and Strathearn, from 1906-1952.

The Clerk to The Saddlers’ Company, Nigel Lithgow says: “We are absolutely delighted with Ben’s work, which has gone down extremely well with our members. The piece he produced is beautiful. It is marvellously well crafted and a credit to him.  We were keen to help encourage a young, relatively up and coming silversmith. He was recommended by The Goldsmiths’ Company and we hope Ben’s success will help boost his standing in the future.”

Commenting on his commission, Ryan adds: “It was a real honour and privilege to have been selected to design and produce such a rare piece of work for one of the great Livery companies. As this was only the third ever Perpetual Master’s Badge in the Saddlers’ Company’s extensive history, I felt a real sense of responsibility – and as it was being designed for HRH The Princess Royal it was very important that the piece was elegant and of the highest quality. 

“After all the weeks of careful planning and manufacture, I was personally very pleased with the outcome, and doubly so after the positive comments and praise I received from both The Saddlers’ Company and The Princess Royal herself.”

Ryan is currently working from his studio in the Goldsmiths’ Centre in Clerkenwell, London.  He has won a number of awards as well as commendations for design, craftsmanship, and technological innovation including the ‘Gil Packard Bursary’, and the ‘Young Designer Silversmith Of The Year Award’.

Some of Ryan’s other work is currently on display at Mappin & Webb in Regent Street, London, where they are exclusively previewing contemporary silver which will be on sale at the Goldsmiths’ Fair which takes place from September 22 to October 4. Ryan will be exhibiting in week one of the Goldsmiths’ Fair (22nd to 27th September) where he will be showing statement pieces together with a selection of luxury homeware and gift items.


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