The fear factor “had to go straightaway,” says silversmith Sophie Chapman. “They were, like, ‘Right, gloves on, take the whole thing apart.’ Once it’s disassembled and in its bits, it’s a lot less intimidating to work on.”

She is recalling her first encounter with the 25.4kg Premier League trophy that she is now checking for damage. The much-coveted prize for England’s top football team has returned to Asprey’s London workshop for a service, ahead of its presentation to the winning club later this month.

It is Chapman’s second year working on the piece, which took Asprey about 700 hours to craft, but she has handled it since first joining the company, as an apprentice, in 2019.

“Normally, it’s got a couple of little bruises in it where it’s been knocked from going here and there,” says the 24-year-old. She will hammer or rub out these dents using stakes, some of which have been specially made to fit through the sterling silver trophy’s neck, once the gold-plated crown is removed, and give access to awkward spots.

700Approximate number of hours Asprey took to craft the Premier League trophy

A colleague will use a Water of Ayr stone to remove remaining imperfections, leaving the surface smooth for polishing. Any chips in the malachite base, where the winner’s name is engraved, will be dealt with by a specialist who can colour-match the stone.

Now, this trophy-making side of jewellery businesses is to be highlighted in two exhibitions over coming weeks. The Goldsmiths’ Company is showing Formula One trophies in Silver in the Fast Lane: 40 Years of Fox Silver at Goldsmiths’ Hall, London, from June 10-22. Meanwhile, in Japan, the Tiffany Wonder exhibition at Tokyo Node gallery, until June 23, is featuring awards including American football’s Vince Lombardi trophy, presented to the NFL Super Bowl champions, and basketball’s Larry O’Brien Championship trophy for the NBA Finals.

The Vince Lombardi trophy is currently on display at the Tiffany Wonder exhibition at Tokyo Node gallery
NFL’s Travis Kelce with the Vince Lombardi trophy at the 2024 Super Bowl

“It’s a little-known part of our heritage, but it’s a very important one and certainly wraps into what Tiffany is about, which is celebrating life’s most important milestones,” says Victoria Reynolds, chief gemologist at Tiffany & Co. The business made its first trophy — the Woodlawn Vase for horseracing — in 1860. Reynolds says trophies are a “small” but “very steady” part of the US jeweller’s business.

At Garrard, creative director Sara Prentice says the category accounts for about 4 per cent of overall sales. The UK jeweller has produced trophies since at least 1776, including, in 1848, sailing’s America’s Cup, which will be contested for the 37th time later this year. Garrard has also supplied trophies for Royal Ascot — designs for which are still approved by the reigning UK monarch — and used AgAIN silver (recycled from medical X-rays) for this, for the first time, last year.

The majority of Garrard’s trophy work is bespoke, though it also offers a couple of off-the-shelf designs. Claire Scott, Garrard’s design and development director, says this is because trophies “take a lot longer to make than people tend to think”, owing to the many techniques and crafts involved. The manufacturing time, alone, is typically four to six months, she says.

The America’s Cup, crafted by Garrard is the world’s oldest perpetual international sporting trophy
Team New Zealand’s Steven Ferguson celebrates winning the 2021 America’s Cup with the trophy

Jewellers tend to make a perpetual trophy (presented to the winner but retained by the sporting body) as well as a replica that the winner keeps. “We work really closely with [a client] to create something which is truly unique and relevant to the brand or the sponsor or the sport, and that has a story and meaning behind it,” says Scott Gamble, director of corporate sales at Asprey, which has produced 54 trophies over the past year. An Asprey trophy is typically priced at between £20,000 and £80,000.

Gamble says business has increased year on year in the decade he has been at Asprey, with growth predominantly driven by golf. The UK brand is the official trophy provider to LIV Golf, the controversial Saudi-funded rival to the PGA Tour that held its first event in 2022. “It’s new, it’s fresh, it’s very different, and so we needed to reflect that through what we ultimately present as the awards and trophies for them,” explains Gamble.

While, historically, Asprey has predominantly made trophies from silver and silver gilt, Gamble says it is trying to “push the boundaries” by incorporating materials and techniques such as carbon fibre and UV-printed colour. The LIV Golf Team Championship trophy has a carbon fibre base and features four sterling silver shards, allowing all team members to have an equal share of the prize. Acrylic “ghost” sections and three further plinths enable each to display their shard at home.

An artisan affixes the the Palme dOr onto a crystal trophy in their workshop
The Palme d’Or trophy is crafted at Chopard’s high jewellery workshops in Geneva from 18-carat Fairmined gold and rock crystal © Chopard
A woman holding up a box containing the Palme d’Or award
French director Justine Triet with the Chopard-designed Palme d’Or at Cannes © Boyer David/ABACA via Reuters Co

And jewellers do not only mark sporting success. Chopard has made prizes for the Cannes Film Festival, which opens on Tuesday, since becoming the event’s official partner in 1998. These include the Palme d’Or, now crafted in its high jewellery workshops in Geneva from 18-carat Fairmined gold and rock crystal.

Caroline Scheufele, co-president and artistic director of Chopard, says making what she suggests is the “most-wanted award in the world” after the football World Cup “raises the profile” of the house.

Trophy making also builds brand awareness for Tiffany. “It reaches — certainly, when you’re thinking about baseball and football — maybe a more diverse audience of men,” points out Reynolds, adding that sport is a “common denominator” worldwide.

She says traditional trophy craftsmanship is a “dying art”. “A great trophy is an incredible work of art and symbolises victory, passion, effort and hard work,” she adds. “The best photos for me are always of athletes hugging these trophies, pouring champagne on the trophies, celebrating with them. It’s what makes them so iconic.”

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