AN Ardstraw jeweller received the call of a lifetime two weeks ago which led to her specially commissioned lapel pins being proudly worn by the G8 leaders in front of millions of television views across the world.
Jill Graham ran a jewellery business in Ardstraw up to four years ago when she moved to Dromora, Co Down. This week she had the thrill of watching President Obama and the other seven world leaders make speeches and announce major policies from the Lough Erne resort wearing her unique sterling silver pins.
Jill studied for a degree in ‘silversmith and jewellery’ at Loughborough University in England before serving her apprenticeship in Goldsmiths in Derry. She is the current chairperson of Craft Design Collective (CDC) the largest craft organisation in the North.
Reaching the dizzy heights of crafting the G8 pins, she travelled to the Summit resort to present them to British Prime Minister David Cameron and pinned one onto his lapel.
She explained, “I received the call from Downing Street two weeks before the Summit. They had seen my work and asked me to produce the pins. Not everyone gets that call! It was nerve wrecking.
“I based my designs around the delicate tracery of the Rowan Leaf representing strength, growth, renewal and a long native tree on our isles. It to me was an ideal symbol for this summit. I then met with a Downing Street representative and they were happy with them.
“As a young contemporary designer in Northern Ireland it was a privilege to be commissioned to create pieces for such a historical event ”
Despite the short notice Jill managed to get the pins ready on time.
She was invited to Lough Erne by Theresa Villiers the Secretary of State. During the visit she clipped a pin on the lapel of David Cameron’s jacket, an experience she described as “amazing.”
“I made 14 lapel pins for the G8 leaders and 11 more with different designs for their sherpas. To see the eight world leaders wearing them on TV was incredible. They all now have a piece of my jewellery. You can’t get any higher than that.”
Her work was described by Ms Villiers as “wonderful pieces of craftsmanship that are very much in tune with the stunning landscape that hosted the G8 Summit.”