The Goldsmiths’ Company has announced a proposal to establish a major new centre for jewellery and silversmithing in the heart of Clerkenwell.

The Goldsmiths' Centre will include The Goldsmiths' Institute, a state-of-the-art education and training facility for people wishing to enter the industry, and will have exhibition, conference and seminar spaces, a café, affordable fit-for-purpose workshop and starter studio space.

The facilty will provide a resource for the existing industry, opportunities in vocational training and a place for the public to appreciate silversmithing and jewellery design.

"Whilst recognising the challenges that we face in an increasingly competitive global marketplace, we believe that there is, and will remain, a market for creatively designed and beautifully made silversmithing and jewellery," said clerk of The Goldsmiths' Company Dick Melly.

The project is the Company's largest undertaking in the last 100 years, with a total estimated development cost of £14m. The site, currently known as Eagle Court, already has a listed schoolhouse on it, which will be incorporated with a new building. Completion has been scheduled for 2010 but will depend on planning permission and contracts, and the Centre will ultimately be run by an independent charity established for the purpose.

The investment in the centre is a direct result of the Goldsmiths' Company's involvement with the City Fringe Partnership, an economic development and regeneration partnership for the areas of London that are north and east of the "Square Mile" and cooperation with the London Development Agency, the Mayor of London's agency for sustainable economic growth.

The Goldsmiths' Institute will offer two new programmes: a one-year pre-apprentice programme for young people who wish to gain a skills base before entering the industry or further education, and a one-year post-graduate programme to prime graduates for a professional design career. These will run alongside the traditional exhibitions and events programme at The Goldsmiths' Hall.

• On September 22-24 The National Association of Goldsmiths' will hold their annual Conference for Valuers & Jewellers at the usual venue, Loughborough University.

It will include workshops, presentations, an open forum, a debate on diamond certification and a session on the role of the jewellery valuer. The conference package fee is £315 for N.A.G. members and £405 for non-members, with flexible rates for single day attendance. Contact Sandra Page on 02920 813 615,
By Stephanie Harris