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Over the last fi ve years, gold has taken an increasingly prominent position in the public eye. Rarely a week goes by without this very special precious metal being mentioned in the press. The rising price of gold has been translated into renewed prospecting in Britain, most recently at Cononish and Loch Lomond in the Highlands. You can even indulge in a liquid gold body wrap for the ultimate cosmetic indulgence. The confl uence of the Queen's Diamond Jubilee and the Olympic Games in London have offered an unparalleled opportunity to research and celebrate the story of Britain's largely unsung relationship with gold. Where more appropriate to stage this exhibition than the Goldsmiths' Company in London? Established by Royal Charter in 1327, the Company has been fostering the work of goldsmiths ever since. Gold: Power and Allure is the largest exhibition the Goldsmiths' Company has organised. For two months in June and July 2012, the Goldsmiths' Hall will be home to an astonishing array of over 400 golden treasures, from Cornish gold nuggets to the most recent craftsmanship, via a range of thematic displays which explore the role of gold in arenas such as antiquity, dining, fi nance and church and state. The challenge has been to draw together the many threads that make a single precious metal so special and central to human society, revealing the story of Britain's involvement in its exploitation and appreciation.Some of the highlights include a pair of basket-shaped rings discovered in 2002 beside the body of the Amesbury Archer near Stonehenge. Said at the time to have been the richest Bronze Age grave yet found in Northern Europe, the gold has been dated to as early as 2470 BC, making them the oldest gold objects yet found in Britain. Another 'fi rst' includes the earliest-known hallmarked gold to survive from this country, a chalice and paten from Corpus Christi College Oxford bearing the London date letter for 1507. The largest object ever made from Welsh gold, the Castell Carn Dochan cup, has also been lent by the National Museum of Wales. It was commissioned by Sir Watkin Williams-Wynn in 1867 and is based on a design by Hans Holbein for Left: This 1633 gold ampulla held the sacred anointing oil for the coronation of Charles I at HolyroodA golden opportunityA unique collection of items at the Goldsmiths' Company summer exhibition highlights our ongoing attraction to gold. Using selected historical objects, Curator and NADFAS-accredited lecturer Helen Clifford explains the special relationship that Britain and its people have with this precious metal' COMPANY

Henry VIII. The original cup, a gift to Queen Jane Seymour, was melted down in 1629. Coming right up to date, the exhibition includes the world's fi rst 'pure' (990 carat) gold claret jug created by the renowned goldsmith Martyn Pugh in 2008: the result of the latest research in gold alloy and laser-welding technology. Some objects have many stories to tell. One special example is the elegant gold bread-basket commissioned by the Silver Trust, for use at 10 Downing Street, in celebration of the Queen's Golden Jubilee in 2002. Based on a form that became popular in the 18th century, it is thoroughly modern in its manufacture, employing the latest laser-cutting technology to create the cross and fl eur-de-lis decoration taken from St Edward's crown. The kilo of fi ne gold from which it was made was a gift of Anglo America PLC - the global mining company with headquarters in London. The cost of its manufacture was the gift of Roy Tiley, a silver collector, whose wife, a NADFAS member, oversaw the donation. The London goldsmith Grant Mcdonald brought past and present together to create this handsome piece, and completed it just in time for its use at the Jubilee dinner given by the Prime Minister for Her Majesty the Queen.The rarity, colour and weight of gold (it is heavier than lead), combined with its other extraordinary properties, make it special, magical, and central to human culture. It is the most ductile of all metals: one troy ounce (about 31g) can be drawn into a wire more than 62 miles long. By wrapping silk, linen or wool threads with gold it can be woven into cloth of gold, and couched to create the fi nest embroidery for which England was famed, 'Opus Anglicanum'. Gold is one of the most malleable of all metals, a troy ounce can be beaten into a sheet spanning 300 square feet. Gold leaf transforms base metals, wood, ceramics, glass, leather and even food from the commonplace to the exceptional. As a result, the use of gold marks the apex of achievement and status, and represents both spiritual and secular power. One of the highlights of the exhibition, a small gold ampulla (container for holy anointing oil), symbolises the union of sacred and secular. It was used at the Scottish coronation of Charles I at Holyrood House in Edinburgh in 1633. From the very public use of gold at coronations, to more private and personal representatives of monarchy, like the ? Below: A cross made from Kildonan gold, 1869Left: Mid-14th century 'M' brooch, from New College, OxfordImages: © National Museums of Scotland/The Warden and Scholars of New College Oxford/Private NADFAS REVIEW / SPRING 2012 23 GOLDSMITHS' COMPANY