The jeweller’s CEO on supporting this new British sporting event.
Garrard has created a set of medals and medallions for the upcoming Invictus Games, in which more than 400 wounded or sick service men and women will compete against one another in 230 sports.
With a long history of creating trophies, decorations and medals for soldiers and royalty, Kathryn Bishop catches up with Garrard chief executive officer Eric Deardorff to discuss the medals’ design and the similarities between the Games and the British jeweller.
Professional Jeweller: Garrard has a long history of making trophies and medals; how did this partnership with the Invictus Games come about?
Eric Deardorff: Garrard has been making trophies since 1775, starting with the oldest sailing trophy in the world. Since then people from around the world have come to Garrard for sporting prizes, from fully-fledged trophies like the America’s Cup to several of the Ascot trophies. We’ve also served soldiers around the world with medals and decorations, not just here in Britain. The Invictus Games were a natural fit for Garrard, taking their support of servicemen for well over 100 years and sporting venues for 200 years. We have the design capabilities, we have the craftsmanship, we have the operations and the ability to interpret logos, themes and designs; we do it for jewellery, royal regalia and certainly do it for trophies, so medals like this are perfect for us.
PJ: How long does the design process take, to create medals such as these?
ED: The hardest part is the design and getting agreement, as we had several key parties that were providing information and ideas. We designed a couple of options, which took about a month or so, and then make the first models. The first set came out quite nice but still had to be modified, so all in all we’re talking about four months from start to final, finished medals.
PJ: Tell us more about the details on the medal…
ED: We started with various logos for lack of a better description, discussing what ‘invictus’ stands for and the messages we wanted to get across [in the design]. Then we thought about injured soldiers, hence the stitching design around the medal, which represents rehabilitation. There is braille on the back, which I’m not sure has ever been done before [on a medal], and a participants’ medallion.
PJ: The participants’ medal is quite unusual – do other games offer them?
ED: I do think it’s unique. Everyone involved in the Invictus Games will be given one of these medals and the reason behind it is that participants from 14 different countries are taking part in 229 events, and it’s really hard to be selected to participate. So just the fact they’re getting here [is admirable]. And then, if we think about the purpose, it is to honour these men and women and also raise money to help pay for improved rehabilitation. A critical part of these games is ultimately to bring some people to the games who are then able to donate back.
PJ: What similarities do you see between Garrard and the Invictus Games?
ED: We see a great future for both. Garrard as a company is exploding globally. The last two years our sales have more than doubled each year. We are getting back to our unique roots, serving royalty around the world, and last year alone we made more than a dozen trophies for different sporting events. I want to be involved with the Invictus Games each year as it’s a British event and there are many links between us, the Games, royalty – we could describe so many things that overlap, so who better than make these medals and represent the British side of this than the oldest silversmith and jeweller in the world, which happens to be here in London.