Birmingham Assay Office has announced a new chief executive and assay master.

Stella Layton will take up the position at the world's largest assay office in January 2014 and will work alongside current chief executive Michael Allchin through a three-month hand over period until his retirement at the end of March.

Ms Layton has 28 years experience in the industry and was global divisional director for Cookson Precious Metals, which has premises in the Jewellery Quarter, until its recent takeover by Heimerle & Meule.

Cookson has been an assay customer for decades and Ms Layton has been a Guardian since 2007.

The Birmingham Assay Office is controlled by a board of 36 Guardians of the Standard of Wrought Plate in Birmingham.

She is also a Liveryman of the Goldsmiths Company, as well as serving as a non-executive director of the Birmingham Women’s Hospital Foundation Trust.

Assay chairman Kate Hartigan said: “We are delighted to have found someone of such high calibre, with the appropriate experience and proven skills to take the office to its next stage of development.

“Stella joins The Assay Office at a significant time when, in addition to its statutory duty of hallmarking, it is driving growth through diversification and our plans for a move to a new purpose-built facility in the Jewellery Quarter are well under way.

"As only the 13th assay master in 240 years of history, Stella has the opportunity to really make her mark.”