Dario Batzella: Goldsmith’s Craft & Design Council Award Winner

Hamilton & Inches are fiercely proud of our Craftsmen. Their workshops are all housed above our George Street showroom, and it is here that they create contemporary pieces using traditional techniques. They are at the heart of everything we do, and we are committed to helping them continually develop their skills to become truly world-class in their field. Having studied a number of techniques, including engraving, at the Italian mint in Rome, Dario Batzella moved to Edinburgh to work for Hamilton & Inches in May 2017 as a Trainee Engraver.
Dario Batzella

Inspired by Scotland, inspired by Hamilton & Inches’ encouragement and inspired by his growing skills, Dario set about creating something completely unique. A piece to reflect his personality that is functional as well as beautiful. A piece that tells a story. From this, Dario’s calendar was created. The Goldsmiths’ Craft and Design Council was founded over a century ago.

It hosts the annual Craftsmanship & Design Awards, often referred to as the Jewellery Oscars, to promote excellence in the industry. To even be nominated for an award is a tremendous achievement in itself. We were immensely proud to see Dario win a Goldsmiths' Silver Award in Senior Engraving. His calendar is a truly special piece, and the story behind it is incredible. The thistle in the centre of the calendar moves to select a year and month. The calendar will then tell you the day of the week, for any date from 2020 until 2070. One particular year that is highlighted in a different style is 2066 – Hamilton & Inches’ 200th anniversary.

Our marketing team caught up with Dario to ask him about this amazing achievement, and the inspiration behind it.

H&I: What inspired you to create the calendar?

Dario: I like to work on pieces that customers can interact with. I wanted to create something that can be moved and used. Being watchmakers, Hamilton & Inches are experts in time and I wanted to reflect that in my work. The design for the engraving tells the story of the Holly King. From Pagan mythology, the Holly King represents one half of the year (winter), while the other is personified by his nemesis, the Oak King (summer). The two are engaged in an endless battle to control the seasons. At Midsummer the Oak King is at the height of his strength, while the Holly King is at his weakest and vice versa at Midwinter. The spinning mechanism of the calendar symbolises the eternal change of seasons. The calendar only shows dates for the next 50 years, but I have designed it so the discs can be separated and a new date disc created to show any time period.

H&I: What materials did you use?

Dario: The base is made from walnut, and the discs are sterling silver. The thistle that controls the mechanism is an amethyst. Not only is it Hamilton & Inches’ official stone due to its deep purple colour, but it also best represented the natural colour of the thistle.

H&I: What was the process?

Dario: I started by sketching the design and also the mechanism to see how the calendar would work. I took inspiration from engravings I found from the 1800s, studied the human figure and practiced how to incorporate it into nature to best represent the Oak King. After extensive research, I made a paper mock-up to test it. It was a lot of trial and error to make sure everything was correct before working with silver. Once I had finalised the design, I called on the skills of my fellow Hamilton & Inches craftsmen to help bring it to life. Panos Kirkos, Master Silversmith, worked on the thistle and set the amethyst. He and George Douglas, Apprentice Silversmith, then finished the wood plinth and placed Dario’s engraved discs. The piece was finally expertly polished by Colin Golder, Master Polisher.

Dario's Original Pencil Sketch

H&I: How long did it take to create?

Dario: Engraving took close to 100 hours. It was all done by hand.

H&I: How did you feel when you won a Goldsmiths' Award?

Dario: I was thrilled just to be nominated for an award, especially after only 2 years of working as a Trainee Engraver. It was a difficult piece to imagine and create, so the acknowledgement from Goldsmiths' means a lot to me. I’m very grateful for the support of the team at Hamilton & Inches, who encouraged me and helped me bring my idea to life. Everyone who worked with me was so passionate, it truly inspired me.

H&I: What’s the next big idea?

Dario: I have a few ideas. Watch this space.