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Gift from Goldsmiths’ Company Charity to fund new Cambridge research in precious metals

A gift from the Goldsmiths’ Company Charity to support three new PhD studentships at Cambridge will advance research in precious metals and help develop new technical expertise.


The Goldsmiths’ Company programme in precious metals research, which will be based at Cambridge’s Department of Materials Science and Metallurgy, will build on the University’s strengths in the study of materials. The Department is one of the world’s leading centres in the study of materials and metals. 


The first two students are expected to start in 2019, following a recruitment programme this autumn. The date marks the centenary of a founding gift from the Goldsmiths to establish the Goldsmiths’ Laboratory at Cambridge, in April 1919. The partnership between the University and the Company has long roots, with donations from the Company to support the development of metallurgical studies dating back to the beginning of the last century.


The pool of expertise available to the UK precious metals industry has reduced in recent years, with fewer younger technical experts coming in to the field, and the programme will help to grow capacity and contribute to the UK’s standing as a centre of excellence.


Michael Prideaux, Prime Warden of the Goldsmiths’ Company, said: “Items have been made of precious metals for millennia.  Today, they are used across medical, electronic and aerospace applications as well as in jewellery and silversmithing. We are proud to be further developing a partnership that stretches back over 100 years between the Goldsmiths’ Company and Cambridge’s Department of Materials Science, a centre with an outstanding international reputation.


A key objective of the Goldsmiths’ Company is to contribute to national life. These studentships, our own research, and other plans under discussion are all designed to help position the United Kingdom as a leading country for precious metal research.  We look forward to supporting further scientific advances in this area as we approach the 700th Anniversary of the Company's first Royal Charter in 2027.” 


“The studentships will deliver new fundamental research in understanding alloys, and by enhancing Cambridge’s strengths will benefit the UK more broadly as a centre of excellence in this area”, said Professor Paul Midgley, Head of the Department of Material Sciences and Metallurgy.“We are delighted to have this opportunity to enable the most talented young researchers to further advance our understanding of precious metals.”

The Department of Materials Science & Metallurgy has a large and vigorous research school, with about 100 research fellows, postdoctoral scientists and visiting scientists, and more than 140 research students studying for the postgraduate degrees. It has a research income of more than £10 million per year, and recent trends have seen the development of larger-scale working relationships with major research sponsors to continue to advance our understanding of materials. A wide range of international contacts which brings visiting researchers to Cambridge has been extended through formal collaboration agreements with institutions from around the world.


Our Deputy Warden Dr Robert Organ studied for his PHD there between 1991 - 1994 in the original laboratory which was funded by The Goldsmiths' Company.  Indeed that particular team of material scientists at that time called themselves "The Goldsmiths".  To complement the PHD programme outlined above the Company will be launching an annual materials conference entitled The Goldsmiths' Company Jewellery Materials Congress. This will take place 8-9 July 2019 at Goldsmiths' Hall.   Read details here.