Q&A: Robert Organ

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Robert Organ is the Deputy Warden of the Goldsmiths’ Company’s Assay Office in London.

Robert, of Welsh heritage, hails from Gwent. He gained a degree in Natural Sciences and a PhD from Emmanuel College, University of Cambridge. 

He joined the Assay Office London as Superintendent Assayer in 2000, and has been responsible, over the seventeen years of his tenure, for the introduction of new technologies such as laser marking and XRF machines within the modern day assaying process, as well as the introduction of sub-assay offices. He also played an active part in the successful lobbying for the exclusion of hallmarking from the Mutual Recognition Regulation in European Union law.

He is a member of the Institute of Metal Finishing, a Fellow and Chartered Engineer with the Institute of Materials, Minerals and Mining and is also the Chairman and Secretary to the International Association of Assay Offices (IAAO) and Chairman of the British Standards Institute STI 53 Committee for Specifications and Test Methods for Jewellery and Horology. Robert was made a Liveryman of the Goldsmiths' Company in 2015. He answers the Benchpeg Q&A...

What’s your name, and what do you for a living?

RO: Dr Robert Organ, Deputy Warden of the Goldsmiths’ Company Assay Office.

How did you come to work in the jewellery industry?

RO: I became Superintendent​ Assayer then Deputy Warden of the Goldsmiths’ Company Assay Office – I was attracted to the roles because of my PHD in the chemical side of Metallurgy (assaying is chemistry, marking is metal forming), and I also have an MBA which is useful for business skills.

How would you describe your work to someone who doesn’t know it?

RO: “Deputy Warden” is an ancient role, and in today’s terms it means “Chief Managing Director”.

Day to day there is never a dull moment in the Assay Office because the nature of the Hallmarking law is very diverse.

Managing people, managing technical matters, managing the business and finances, and working in an organisation which has an almost unparalleled 700 year history means that each day is varied. 

Where do you love to shop?

RO: Den Den Town in Osaka, Japan. Best camera shops in the world!

What is your inspiration?

RO: My inspiration is finding innovative solutions to difficult problems – whether technical,  managerial or business related. 

Is there a seminal book or a favourite read that you have?

RO: I’m very interested in poetry and love the rhyme of the Ancient Mariner by Coleridge and the works of Dylan Thomas.

Is there a particular tune, song or soundtrack to your life?

RO: 'In A Big Country' by Big Country; 'Everybody Wants to Rule the World' by Tears for Fears; 'Don’t Stop Me Now' by Queen. Because I play the classical guitar I also love Joaquín Rodrigo - 'Fantasia para un gentilhombre part 4 Canario'. 

If you could only be remembered for one thing in your working life, what would it be?

RO: My proudest achievement is reintroducing the apprentice scheme within the Assay Office. And making the Assay Office “fit” for the current environment – to keep up with technological advancements. This allowed the introduction of our various sub offices.

What would be your advice to someone starting out in the industry?

RO: The important thing would be talk to the Goldsmiths’ Company as the authority. The Company can give advice on apprenticeships, bursaries, awards, the history and heritage of the trade, specialist reference materials, information files (including over 10,000 books and 15,000 images in our library), Master-Craftsmen experiences, studio internships, masterclasses, courses and programmes with the Goldsmiths’ Centre, setting up your business, trade regulation, and of course hallmarking. 

The Benchpeg Proust Q&A

  1. What’s your favourite work of art?
    RO: Picasso's reinterpretations of Valasquez’ Las Meninas. My father is an artist and sculptor so obviously I love his work!

  2. Who from past or present would you invite to a dinner party for the evening?
    RO: Freddie Mercury, Nicky Wire from MSP and my wife! 

  3. Do you have any pets, if yes, what is their name?

    RO: We just got a second Shiba Inu, so we now have a girl called Nagi, and a boy puppy called Kinta. The latter is the most destructive force known to mankind.

  4. What is your most treasured possession?
    RO: A Longines gold watch presented to my grandfather for 40 years’ service at Ebbw Vale Steel Works, because the conditions and the hard work they had to do would be unheard of today in this country.

  5. What would you consider a perfect day?
    RO: I love photography and was, at the time, the youngest licentiate of the Royal Photographic Society, and have had exhibitions in public galleries. A perfect day would be out with my camera in a place which is rich for photographic imagery.

  6. Is there a favourite journey, trip or voyage you hold dear?

  7. What is your greatest achievement?
    RO: Getting into Cambridge University where I studied Natural Sciences.

  8. What advice would tell your younger self?
    RO: Find a good balance between your studying and social life.

  9. Can you sum yourself up in one word?
    RO: Unique!

  10. What motto do you live by?
    RO: If anything is worth doing its worth overdoing.

Robert Organ can be found at the up coming Make Your Mark event, held at Goldsmiths' Hall from 31 October - 1 November 2017.




Rebecca van Rooijen


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