Meet Dan: Vipa’s First Apprentice from the Goldsmiths Apprenticeship Program

The jewellery industry has a long and storied history, with the earliest known jewellery dating as far back as 150,000 years. Throughout those millennia, processes, secrets, and practices have been passed down from master to apprentice within each generation, with students building on the lessons of the past to combine traditional crafting skills with modern innovation. The Goldsmiths’ Company have been supporting apprenticeships since its foundation in the 14th century, placing young talent with high potential into roles across leading businesses. This year, one of their apprentices will be joining the Vipa Designs’ team as part of Goldsmiths’ first expansion outside of the London area in their long history. In this blog, we’ll be introducing our new apprentice, and finding out more about what they have been up to so far at Vipa! 

Without further ado, we’d like to introduce Dan. Dan is one of the first Goldsmiths’ Apprentices outside of London, and also the first to specialise in CAD/CAM, or computer-aided design and manufacturing. CAD/CAM is becoming an increasingly important part of the jewellery industry. In the past, jewellers had to physically make a piece in order to develop it, making changes with each iteration in order to perfect a design. CAD allows designers to do this virtually, creating a model which can be presented to customers and refined as needed. After this, CAD models can be 3D printed to create a perfect wax model for a process called lost wax casting: a traditional method for creating moulds that is still in use today. 

So, where did Dan’s journey begin? With a love for designing and creating things as he grew up, Dan’s foray into the jewellery industry started from his attendance at a day course creating silver rings at the School of Jewellery in Lincoln. For him, that day sparked a passion that led to him studying at Birmingham’s School of Jewellery, before undertaking an apprenticeship with Goldsmiths. 

Apprenticeships in the jewellery industry are all about developing specialist expertise, from diamond mounters and silversmiths, to CAD/CAM designers and hand engravers, jewellers focus on a specific area of the industry in order to become true masters of the craft. But no mastery is complete without a full understanding of the process. Within his apprenticeship at Vipa Designs, Dan’s day-to-day activities are designed to give him a comprehensive overview of the way we work, developing his technical abilities, confidence, creativity and craft skills in preparation for his career in the jewellery industry. 

Dan said, “I am currently learning the business as a whole; understanding each process and how they work and how vital each step is to create a consistent and easy production flow. I have spent the last few months in the office learning how orders are taken and processed along with talking to clients to solve any queries or problems they may have and trying to provide a high level of customer service. I have also been providing an in-house CAD service which I have really enjoyed. By learning the manufacturing process, such as sprueing, casting and how metal flows, I have been able to further my CAD skills by taking this new knowledge into account to create CAD designs that work and cast successfully and can be finished easily.” 

Building on our history of working with students to support their education, we’re proud to say that Dan is our first ever apprentice through our collaboration with Goldsmiths, and he won’t be the last. Helping to develop the next generation of jewellers is vital – it lets us bring on exciting new talent, and prepares them to be the new leaders within an ever-changing, and yet proudly traditional industry. Dan’s entrance into the Vipa Design team is an exciting opportunity for both of us as apprenticeships are often a symbiotic relationship. For Dan, it’s a chance to learn what it means to put his skills to practice, using his knowledge of CAD/CAM programs in a practical environment. For us, it’s a chance to add a fresh perspective to our team, using his understanding of digital design processes in order to enhance our own and drive innovation. 

So where does he want to go next? Our hope, and Dan’s hope, is that Vipa Designs will become his permanent home after his apprenticeship, turning the lessons he’s learned into a finely honed craft. Every day is both an opportunity for him to further integrate into our team, and a chance to personally develop by learning new skills, both in preparation for what will be a long and successful career. 

Welcome to Vipa, Dan! 


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