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Precious Little Gems 2019

Published: 10th May 2019

A silver toast to Sheffield Silversmiths with a gin chalice, water jug and cup.

Sheffield Assay Office is delighted to announce that the Precious Little Gems Commissions sponsored by the office are now on display in the foyer of Museums Sheffield, Millennium Gallery. These stunning pieces have been designed and made by Yorkshire Artspace’s Starter Studio Programme for Designer Silversmiths and Jewellers participants Daisy Lee-Overton and Francisca Onumah.

The Sheffield Assay Office offers a commission opportunity to these emerging silversmiths in their second year of the programme. The annual ‘Precious Little Gems’ has enabled them to test out new ideas and realise their designs in silver. The finished objects then join the metalwork collections of Sheffield Assay Office and Museums Sheffield.

The brief for 2019 was to create a new piece of work, the design had to be original and thought provoking. Daisy and Fran have certainly achieved the criteria set.

Daisy Lee-Overton Little Gems

Daisy has designed and made a Gin Chalice and given it the title Inflorescence – the process of flowering. The piece is made from Sterling Silver, 18ct yellow Gold and Glass. Daisy’s background is in contemporary jewellery as a designer/maker, working predominately with silver to create delicate jewellery pieces. Her unique aesthetic informs the distinctive style of her Gin Chalice. Daisy has used the landscape of the Peak District, where she grew up as inspiration for the piece. Daisy is able to translate the fluidity and presence of nature into intricate decorative details into her silverware. Working with glass blower Daniel Jackson from Sheffield University; Daisy has been able to incorporate bespoke blown glass into the design of the drinking vessel. ‘Inflorescence’ celebrates Daisy’s transition into Silversmithing, her love of making and appreciation of good gin.

Daisy said “It has been so exciting to have the opportunity to design and create a piece of contemporary silverware for the Sheffield Assay Office. With the support of our talented technicians Bob Lamb and Ben Friend, I have been able to develop and learn new making skills throughout the creation of this piece. The Precious Little Gems commission has allowed me to tap into the fantastic network of skilled makers and tradespeople across Sheffield, building important relationships with these people, which will help me to further develop my ideas into a new body of work. I really feel this opportunity has inspired me to be more creative with my designs, allowed me to see what is possible in terms of the making processes involved and given me confidence within my own skills”.

Francisca Onumah - Little Gems

Francisca has created a wonderful water jug and cup, entitled Murmur, from Britannia Silver. Francisca’s inspiration derives from the Japanese theory of wabi-sabi, which is the intentional acceptance of the imperfections of the making process. She references this theory through the mark making process, layering the surfaces of her objects with a variety of textures. The water carafe and cup depicts a silent scene of conversational murmurs between two vessels. Exploring the limits of traditional silversmithing, Francisca’s working process plays with the technique of raising giving the objects a contemporary style. Portraying an ambiguous figurative form, the vessels display an anthropomorphic nature characterised by vulnerable postures.

Fran said "I really enjoyed working on the pieces for the ‘Precious Little Gems’ Commission. It was such an invaluable opportunity to push both my designs and the material in a way that wouldn’t have been possible without the support of Sheffield Assay Office."

Ashley Carson, Assay Master said; “We’re delighted to be able to continue this partnership working with Yorkshire Artspace and Museums Sheffield, every year something special is revealed. Our thanks go to Daisy and Fran fro creating wonderful pieces of work and to Rachael Dodd, Bob Lamb, Ben Friend and Sian Brown. It is so important to celebrate and promote Sheffield’s rich metalworking heritage and the skill and creativity of those makers working in the city today”.


The commissions will be on display in the foyer until 3rd October 2019.

Daisy and Fran will be giving a free talk at Museums Sheffield; Millennium Gallery in the Activity Room on 23rd May 2019, 1- 2pm.

For more information visit:


To find out more about the whole range of Services offered by Sheffield Assay Office, please email us at or complete the contact form on our website at


Contacts for Daisy and Fran:

Daisy Lee-Overton


Francisca Onumah

The Sheffield Assay Office was established in 1773, under an Act of Parliament and today the company assays and hallmarks the precious metals - silver, gold, platinum and palladium. Sheffield Assay Office is one of only four UK assay offices who all work to uphold the Hallmarking Act of 1973 and continue to ensure consumer protection for customers purchasing precious metals.

To find out more about the whole range of services offered by Sheffield Assay Office, such as our hallmarking and analytical services, please email us at or complete the contact form on our website at,

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