Gold is an expensive commodity today, but none more so than Welsh Gold, for it is the rarest of all. After a history spanning 4,000 years, the last gold mine in Wales closed in 2007. Guided tours are available of the Dolaucothi mine in central Wales, first worked by Romans 2,000 years ago. It was abandoned after the third century, revived in the 19th century, and closed forever in 1938. If you’re not claustrophobic, your guide will be happy to escort you deep into the cold, dripping confines of tunnels where miners toiled in the dim light of candles.
Not far away you can visit one of Wales’s best-known goldsmiths. Since 1971 Riannon Jones has operated the Rhiannon Welsh Gold Centre Tregaron, making distinctive jewelry inspired by, not copies of traditional Celtic designs. Years later, when Celtic art became popular, her work was thrust into the limelight and she became an “overnight” success with international collectors. The original idea was to make jewelry during the winter months for sale to the tourists who arrived in the summers. However, with the advent of the internet, the business now has a year round clientele. All of her designs, in gold and silver, are handmade on the premises. Rhiannon bought the last cache of Welsh gold in 2008. With so little left, she now makes her pieces with a special alloy containing 10% Welsh gold.
The center, which showcases other local arts and crafts, such as weavers, wood carvers, potters and painters, as well as Welsh music, also houses the Hafon Café, a small café with courtyard tables for dining on a sunny day, and cozy fireside tables inside for those cold and rainy days.
Rhiannon Welsh Gold Centre
Main Square Tregaron SY25 6JL
Tel: +44 (0) 1974 298 415
Fax: +44 (0) 1974 298 690
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