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Bidford jewellery designer Sophie Cudworth wins gold at Goldsmiths’ Crafts & Design Awards with her dragon-inspired necklace design

A JEWELLERY designer based near
Bidford has beaten the robots to win a
prestigious national design award.

Sophie Cudworth, 36, won gold at
the Goldsmiths’ Crafts & Design
Council Craftsmanship & Design
Awards held in London on 5th March
for her dragon-inspired necklace
design, The Legend of Longmen:
Dragon Gate.

Award winning jeweller Sophie Cudworth runs her business from her Bickmarsh home near Bidford. Photo: Mark Williamson
Award winning jeweller Sophie Cudworth runs her business from her Bickmarsh home near Bidford. Photo: Mark Williamson

“Dragons are my all-time favourite
mythical creature,” said Sophie.
“Early in my career when I had the
pleasure of working in China, I was
told about the legend of the dragon
gate, when each year koi carp battle
up river to leap through the gate at the
top of the waterfall and only the most
tenacious can become a dragon. I also
love koi carp, for their dual traits of
tenacity and stoicism, (so much so
that after this trip, I got a koi carp tat-
too) so the brief sang to my soul.”

Sophie Cudworth's winning Dragon Gate design
Sophie Cudworth's winning Dragon Gate design

Her winning design is hand-illus-
trated, known as ‘gouache rendering’,
and is so technically accurate that it
will be used to make a final piece.

The apple-green peridot in the
Dragon Gate design is akin to those
mined from the Chinese mountains by
the category’s sponsor, Fuli Gem-
stones – which will use Sophie’s
design to make up the necklace.

While CAD (computer aided
design) is often used for expedience in
jewellery design – and Sophie is a
whizz at this too – she says she loves
the artistry of gouache technique.

“Just like with fashion designers’
illustrations, they are artworks in
themselves,” said Sophie.

The designer lives in Bickmarsh
with her husband, Jim Davies, who
runs Stratford Tyres, and children
aged six and three. The couple first
met in Cheltenham in 2013, where
Sophie worked for fine jewellers

Sophie Cudworth at the awards ceremony in London
Sophie Cudworth at the awards ceremony in London

A childhood visit to an aquarium
triggered a love of sparkly things and a
career in jewellery design.

“Growing up in Germany, where
my dad served in the RAF, I remem-
ber he regularly took us to the aquar-
ium. There was this one room full of
gemstones, like a mineral exhibit. I
remember just being completely fas-
cinated by the colours; then it was just
pretty much from that point onwards
that I wanted to be a jeweller.”

After studying at the Birmingham
School of Jewellery, Sophie landed a
job with as an assistant at a jewellery
design company, where she honed
her trade and travelled the world.

Following maternity leave, she set
up on her own.

“I am classically trained, and con-
sider myself a personal jeweller,” said
Sophie. “I offer a one-on-one intimate
service. For example, I just met with a
client in a café for a chat and to talk
about the design for an aquamarine
dress ring I am making for her, having
previously made her wedding ring.”

A popular service that Sophie
offers is a jewellery overhaul.

She explained: “Older women
tend to have quite a large collection of
jewellery, but their tastes may have
changed, in my experience they are
often more adventurous and their col-
lection doesn’t represent who they are

“So we will sit down together and
go over it together – assess it and
break it down. The stones can be
removed and the gold scraped off,
then we can use that to make a new
piece and pay towards it – adding
more gemstones if desired.”

Once a design is agreed upon,
Sophie partners with a Bond Street
workshop which makes the jewellery
to a high standard, but without the
West End prices – Sophie’s rings start
at about £300.

If the Dragon Gate piece caught
your eye, though, that would set you
back a little more: £27,000, according
to sellers Fuli Gemstones.

Sophie’s design is currently on
public display at the Birmingham
Assay Office as part of the Gold-
smiths’ Craft and Design Council
Awards Exhibition. Find out more
about Sophie’s designs at

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