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A Thistle for Her Majesty from Paul Ashby-Crane & Son, Exeter

PUBLISHED: 12:13 29 May 2012 | UPDATED: 21:26 20 February 2013

A Thistle for Her Majesty from Paul Ashby-Crane & Son, Exeter

A Thistle for Her Majesty from Paul Ashby-Crane & Son, Exeter

Exeter jeweller, Rob Ashby-Crane has been burning the midnight oil at his workshop in Gandy Street, designing and creating a very special piece of jewellery to present to the Queen on her Diamond Jubilee.

Exeter jeweller, Rob Ashby-Crane has been burning the midnight oil at his workshop in Gandy Street, designing and creating a very special piece of jewellery to present to the Queen on her Diamond Jubilee.

Rob has chosen to make an elegant brooch in the form of a thistle for Her Majesty. The flowerhead will signify the regal quality, power and influence of the Crown and the spines on the seedpod will symbolise the Commonwealth Countries. The stem and leaves will reflect Queen Elizabeth IIs enduring strength and resilience, being only the second monarch to celebrate a Diamond Jubilee after Queen Victoria in 1897.

Rob said, My brother and I saw the Queen in Paris Street in Exeter during her Silver Jubilee visit and I was so impressed by her then that I decided to create something really special for her Diamond Jubilee.

Rob Ashby-Crane, who opened his prestigious jewellery showroom in Exeter last year, trained with his father Paul in Exmouth and then went on to develop his skills in jewellery design in Hatton Garden, Londons jewellery quarter and UK diamond centre. He then honed his retail experience in Bond Street.

Rob explained how he first thought of making a tree or herb for the Diamond Jubilee but quite quickly settled on the thistle. Although recognized as the symbol of Scotland, the Ashby-Crane thistle is designed to incorporate the whole United Kingdom (and indeed the Royal family has long had a special affinity with Scotland).

There are many interesting connections to this beautiful and dramatic purple flower. The thistle appears in a poem by the late Poet Laureate Ted Hughes, its Eeyores favourite food in Winnie the Pooh, and also the emblem of Encyclopedia Britannica.

But as Rob said, There are some structural considerations with making a round, spiky flower into a smooth, flat brooch that can be comfortably worn. Ive been experimenting with different ways of approaching it. Certainly the flower will be set with amethysts topped with silver that is heated and drawn into soft spines like spun sugar. I decided that each silver spine would then be coated with enamel.

The thistles seedpod, stem and leaves were still being worked on at the time of writing and a number of different structural sketches were in evidence in the jewellery workshop. Rob explained, I have to take my original sketch and rework it into a simple construct so that I can decide how the different sections and materials are going to work together. I want the overall look to be traditional but with a modern twist.

The Ashby-Crane jewellery workshop lies intriguingly below the stylish showroom in Gandy Street. Dania Ashby-Crane explained that having a special piece designed and made is very popular and surprisingly affordable due to the wide selection and values of precious stones that can be used.

Robert added, I remember being allowed to choose the specification for my first bicycle aged 9 and the thrill of having something specially made has always stayed with me. I love to show people that having jewellery made by a craftsman is a wonderful experience and they really will treasure the results. Dania and I really hope that Her Majesty will enjoy her specially designed piece on the occasion of her Diamond Jubilee."

The thistle will be presented to the Queen this month (June).

Paul Ashby-Crane & Son
15, Gandy Street, Exeter, EX4 3LS
01392 - 435120

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