Expect the unexpected: the concept behind 886
Although coin motifs are a classic emblem, The Royal Mint has eschewed such an obvious starting point and instead is launching 886 with an understated collection that feels entirely fresh.
The heritage behind 886, a new jewellery collection by The Royal Mint, goes back more than a thousand years but that history is felt rather than broadcast in the jewellery. Translating the venerable coin-maker’s skills and expertise into fresh forms of sustainable jewellery was a feat of design and manufacturing prowess. The result? A genderless line-up of precious pieces that feel both elevated and easy to wear.
The Royal Mint’s first jewellery offering is anything but predictable. You might have expected the institution that makes coins not just for Britain but also for many of the world’s currencies to serve up a selection of gold-coin pendant necklaces, perhaps delicate, bohemian talismans or chunky medallions with a hip-hop vibe. Although coin motifs are a classic emblem, The Royal Mint has eschewed such an obvious starting point and instead is launching 886 by The Royal Mint with an understated collection that feels entirely fresh. With subtle elegance and weight, the pieces are designed to showcase the maker’s more than 1,100 years of expertise in the realm of precious metals.
That heritage is acknowledged in the name, 886, which refers to the era when The Royal Mint was founded. But the connections run deeper than that. “The 886 collection began with the idea of an institutional gold bullion,” says creative director Dominic Jones, an award-winning designer known for defying traditional jewellery genres. “I wanted to celebrate the inherent beauty of precious metal, without the distraction of stones or design flourishes. It’s very brave in its simplicity.”
There is indeed a boldness to the minimalism that runs through the debut collection; a refusal of visual clutter that’s emphasised by the intense gleam of the gold and silver. Whereas metal jewellery is typically cast, for 886 by The Royal Mint selected pieces are struck, meaning that they are compressed like coins, which results in denser, non-porous and more durable metal with a special quality of shine.
The enduring quality and solidity of the metal reflects the historic role of gold bullion and coins as investments that pass from one generation to the next, a practice that also inspired the design of the jewellery. From sleek stud and hoop earrings to chain necklaces and solid cuff bracelets, every piece is designed to achieve a specific gram weight to underscore the intrinsic value of the materials. And you (or, eventually, your descendants) can wear them with a clean conscience because, for those pieces made on site in South Wales, The Royal Mint has invested in a new patented chemical process to recover gold from e-waste mobile phones and computers.
As well as creating the jewellery that Jones describes as “wearable assets”, 886 by The Royal Mint will collaborate with other British makers to offer distinctive homeware collections that also make use of The Royal Mint’s craftsmanship. Finding new, sustainable avenues for these skills – and training more people to carry on the traditions – is a real boon to the British creative industries. For 886 by The Royal Mint, the debut jewellery range is just the beginning; it sets the tone for further ambitious, design-led collections in the future.