Fred's 'royal mail' sparkles during visit

David Looby

Published 15/04/2014 | 05:38

Fred Curtis broch
Fred Curtis broch

THE GIFTED County Wexford jeweller who created a fantastic brooch which the Queen wore during the visit of President Michael D Higgins, sent the valuable piece of jewellery to England by regular post.

Internationally renowned artist Fred Curtis, from Wellingtonbridge, said he had to send the jewellery by regular post to ensure it reached the Queen in time for the historic State visit of President Michael D Higgins.

Fred was then invited to an audience with the monarch at Buckingham Palace, after the brooch arrived in London, for him to formally present it to her.

'Her face lit up when she saw the brooch,' he said.

Fred, who previously made a Waterford Crystal bowl for President Obama, described the experience of meeting the Queen as 'surreal'.

Having been asked to create an iconic piece of jewellery for the Queen in late December, Fred began working on the design with London based Mappin & Webb jewellers.

The former Waterford Crystal worker who creates mouth-blown, hand-cut and sculpted crystal pieces at his studio in the Bannow Bay area, spent the following few months completing the design and making the intricate pieces of the brooch which were later pieced together in London.

On the afternoon of Wednesday, April 3, having only sent the jewellery to London a few days previously, he got a call from Waterford Crystal to say he had an appointment to meet Queen Elizabeth II at Buckingham Palace on the following day.

'I just dropped everything and got on a plane. I had a private audience with her; it was great. The orchid is her favourite flower so we decided to go with that.

'The piece was in the spirit of the President's trip and there was an Irish and English element to its creation and the Queen wearing it throughout the trip brought the whole thing together,' Fred said.

The orchid piece features four orchid flowers on a branch. There is a crystal stem and white gold flowers and there are over 70 diamonds in the piece. It is understood to be worth tens of thousands of pounds.

Fred said the piece was hard to work on because the pieces are so small.

'The flowers were sculpted from a block of Waterford Crystal. I made it myself here in Bannow and the jewellers put it together once I sent the pieces to them. I sent it by regular registered post believe it or not because it was the quickest way to get it there.'

Fred described meeting the Queen as 'very special', adding that he had five minutes in her company.

'Her face lit up when she saw the brooch; you could just tell by her that she loved it. It was very, very nice.

'You could feel at ease in her company; she spoke about her trip here and said she had always wanted to come to Ireland and that it was great that she could. She had quite a memory of her visit.'

Fred said he is very busy and will be travelling to work in America and Australia this year to work on specially commissioned pieces. His work has been presented to US Presidents Barak Obama, Bill Clinton, Ronald Regan, and also to Mother Theresa of Calcutta, Hollywood legend Clint Eastwood and golfer Greg Norman to name just a few.

Fred also designed and created trophies for the Stanley Cup, World Series Baseball, golf, tennis, soccer, fishing and many more.

He said one of President Obama's staff in the White House rang him at the President's request to enquire how he created the piece after it was presented to him by Enda Kenny on St Patrick's Day, 2011.

New Ross Standard

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