Students get radical in their jewellery making

Sixteen HND jewellery students at City of Glasgow College are taking part in a global initiative to help reduce the environmental impact associated with sourcing the materials often used in commercial jewellery.

Radical Jewellery Makeover (RJM) is a community jewellery mining project that began in the USA and which the Scottish Goldmiths Trust (SGT), along with a number of Scottish colleges, has brought to the UK.

Lisa McGovern, Curriculum Head of Craft and Design at City of Glasgow College, said:

“Our students will create new, environmentally responsible pieces from donations of old, unused, bits of jewellery. It will be part of their course work, the alternative materials unit, so it aligns with our curriculum.”

Embedding innovation and sustainability in its curriculum design and delivery plays a large part in City of Glasgow College’s ongoing commitment to achieving net zero by 2040.

“We signed the Scottish Goldsmiths ethical making pledge in 2018 which ensures the use of ethically sourced materials in jewellery making,” explains Lisa.

“Being part of the Radical Jewellery Makeover builds on what we have achieved so far, as our students work with recycled eco silver and Fairtrade gold, and are set project briefs that highlight ethical issues and sustainability. The methods we use have also been adapted to be kinder to the environment.”

The RJM Scotland team is asking people to ‘mine’ their jewellery boxes for unwanted items and either post them to SGT or leave them at a drop-off point. They will then be transformed into fresh, responsible, designer items that will go on show in an exhibition and sale in Glasgow at the end of March. Proceeds will fund further efforts to educate and connect people with responsibly sourced materials. As a ‘thank you’ donors will receive a discount coupon to put towards something new.

For Lisa, involving students in projects like this is really important, as has being a signatory to the ethical pledge. “Our students become more responsible makers when they leave as we instil in them, from early on, the importance of a circular economy. They leave with that being second nature. They produce more innovative work because they are challenged in different ways. It isn’t just pretty jewellery, there is a purpose there.”

The deadline for jewellery donations is Monday 24 January, although an online donation form needs to be completed by Friday 7 January. Staff and students at City of Glasgow College can drop or send their donations to the Creative Industries Administration Team, 6th Floor Office, City Campus.

The other colleges involved are Glasgow Kelvin College, Fife College, Edinburgh College of Art, Duncan of Jordanstone College of Art and Design, and The Glasgow School of Art.