JEWELLER OCT 09
THE VOICE OF THE INDUSTRY
CAFOD’s gold position explained Ancient jewellery uncovered The Jeweller interviews… John Nichols, H&T
JEWELLER THE VOICE OF THE INDUSTRY
The Jeweller interviews…
The chief executive of Harvey & Thompson talks
to Amy Gregson about the boom in business experienced by the pawnbroking sector over the past year, and gives his predictions for the industry’s future.
Where is everyone?
The Jeweller Picks…
Training & Education
The Last Word
Thousands of people in the UK make a living from the retail jewellery and associated trades. So why is it, asks a bemused Kerry Gregory, that it is always the same few hundred faces at industry events?
A Golden Future?
Greg Valerio talks to CAFOD’s Sonya Maldar about her organisation’s campaign to raise awareness of ‘dirty’gold, and asks what she thinks retail jewellers can do to change the way the mining industry works.
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Contributors: Fergal Dowling, Kerry Gregory, Amy Gregson, Neil MacFarlane, Adrian Smith, Greg Valerio
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The Voice of the Industry 3
frontline by Michael Hoare, chief executive of the NAG Don’t get me started ur Luke Street team has had a good IJL, busily launching revamped courses, promoting the benefits of membership, and illustrating the pay-back that comes from joining forces with the combined might of nearly a thousand other jewellers. And I’m pleased to say their hard work has paid off, with fresh applications for membership flowing in, and many more switched on businesses realising that getting ‘stuck in’ as an NAG member brings rewards. Of course you can’t win ‘em all, and there are those who will never be convinced that a bargain is staring them in the face. And naturally, these tough economic times have encouraged us all to be extra thrifty. But there comes a point when saving money turns from taking ‘prudent measures’ into penny pinching with negative results. So I make no apology for reminding the odd doubting Thomas what the average member gets for the equivalent of the cost of a couple of local newspaper ads! First comes education. Every year we train about 1,000 students at rock bottom prices thanks to the investment of time, money and expertise over the last 60 years or so. We run the Executive Development Forum, which develops the talents of business proprietors and the NAG Institute of Registered Valuers is setting new standards in its field, not least with its annual Loughborough Conference that brings together about 150 experts under one roof. Of course there are the financial benefits, which include the free legal helpline, the interest free credit scheme, health insurance scheme, and of course the cheaper merchant service charges that come with
4 The Jeweller October 2009
membership. Last year alone members clocked up over 110 hours of free legal advice. Then there is the less tangible stuff like mystery shopper services, help with health & safety compliance, and cheap listings in the Yellow Pages. Second, there is the wealth of information that the NAG pumps out to help members keep abreast of the market. The Jeweller is arguably the best ‘read’ there is when it come to trade magazines; the monthly n: gauge newsletter is a vital source of information, written by people who care, not people with something to sell; and the website’s member area is a ‘treasure trove’ of information, fact sheets, and technical data.
Lastly, I must mention representation and conciliation, as who else but the NAG gives voice to concerns when it comes to legislation and regulation? Who takes your point of view to government or the Bank of England? Who puts you on the world stage at the International Jewellery Confederation (CIBJO); gives you a voice on the Board of the Responsible Jewellery Council (RJC);
or sits you at the IJL table. And most importantly of all who negotiates with NGOs, like Global Witness or CAFOD, when our industry stands accused over blood diamonds or dirty gold? Oh yes, and did I mention, who invests time, money and effort in initiatives like SaferGems in the fight against theft, deception and violent robbery? I think you’ll find the answer is the National Association of Goldsmiths. NAG for short!
While I’m having a rant! he dramatic rise in violent attacks against jewellers this summer has prompted a rash of torrid newspaper prose that has, in some cases, given criminal deeds a far greater prominence than I think is healthy. Consequently, when a member drew my attention to one feature article in the Daily Telegraph that seemed to lord the ‘inventiveness’ of the Graff robbers, I felt moved to put pen to paper: Dear Sir I can only assume your correspondent Richard Edwards was trying to be humorous, in his article ‘A raid that’s a cut above the rest’, when he seemed to imply that robbing a jewellers shop imbued the perpetrators with some kind of cachet, and elevated them to an upper echelon of robbers. If not, then he seems to be inhabiting a curious neverland where ‘gentlemen’ jewel thieves were once the zenith of their profession – and presumably always wore evening wear to commit their criminal acts! On the slim evidence that a suspect has been picked up in Ilford, Mr Edwards predicts a return to the halcyon days of the East End ‘blaggers’ who were the ‘aristocracy’ of the underworld, and implies that they represent a better class of criminal than the Eastern Europeans who are alleged to have dominated the scene lately. After all, the theory goes, you knew where you were with an East Ender – and they were always good to their mothers. You know the kind of thing.
comment Isn’t it time we stopped getting misty eyed over re-runs of The Sweeney and the mythological East End wide boys with their hearts of gold, and see the people who use threats of violence, firearms, and coshes to steal, whether its diamonds or not, as what they really are? Calculating criminals! I doubt that any of my members’ staff held at gun point, verbally abused, beaten up or taken as hostage ever reflected on how ‘inventive’ the robbers were, or come to that felt that their attackers were ‘gentlemen’. Wearing a suit to steal and intimidate no more makes you a gentleman, than robbing a jeweller improves your status in the criminal fraternity. Having not found my contribution in the following day’s letters pages I suppose I did at least get the matter off my own chest, but frankly the glib way in which violent crime against jewellers is treated makes my blood boil!
They stayed away in droves! ou can’t have failed to notice that IJL has a very successful seminar programme running alongside the main event, and once again this year numerous important subjects were tackled by charismatic and engaging speakers drawn from all quarters. Modesty prevents me from listing the subjects I have spoken on in the past, but I thought my co-presenter Neil McFarlane, from T H March, and I were on to a winner this year when we were asked to talk on the subject of our joint SaferGems initiative. After all, with robberies plastered all over the newspapers every week you couldn’t have asked for a more topical subject – or so we thought. Before the event I had joked with Neil that at least we would be assured of an audience of four if we counted in the Chairman and other stalwarts, but little did I imagine that we would only exceed that ‘guesstimate’ by 50 per cent. Yes, only six people turned up! Now there can only be three reasons that an audience would stay away. One, they already know everything there is to know on the subject. Two, they just don’t care enough to turn up. Or three, the rest of the show was so damn good that wild horses wouldn’t drag them away. OK, there is a fourth reason – that they’ve heard me speak before! Now I don’t know which of those four reasons kept people away in droves, but I sincerely hope it isn’t the second. There is understandable ambivalence amongst jewellers on the subject of violent robbery. On the one hand we know it happens and we hope never to become a victim, but there also seems to be a feeling of ‘tempting fate’ associated with talking publicly about it. Victims are reluctant to speak up because to do so exposes their feelings of vulnerability. And it forces them to re-live events that they would sooner forget. However, members often call in about robberies they have experienced and express the view that there is a trend towards more frequency and greater violence during attacks. I don’t think it’s number one, and that everyone knows everything there is to know about SaferGems. After all, it is one of the most important initiatives launched by the ‘trade for the trade’ in recent years. As the doctor always says “use it or lose it”. However, early indications are that reports are coming in thick and fast, and alerts, of which eleven or twelve have been circulated so far, are hitting members’ computer screens in a timely fashion.
The Voice of the Industry 5
6 The Jeweller October 2009
Editor’s Letter I write this while returning home from this year’s IRV conference in Loughborough, tired but nonetheless suitably fired up with ideas and suggestions for the magazine from those I talked to at the conference. This is only the second year that I have attended the conference but, as last year, I find myself coming away from the event with a sense of renewed energy and excitement about the jewellery industry and impressed by the enthusiasm and weight of knowledge among the country's valuers. I’m obviously not a valuer myself (as those pitying souls who witnessed me struggling with a loupe at Geoff Whitefield and Haywood Milton’s excellent ‘customised watch’ workshop would attest), but it was abundantly clear to me how important the event is to the valuation community. Indeed, it was gratifying to see how clearly Loughborough’s attendees genuinely do identify themselves as a community, and how genuinely pleased they are as a group to be represented as an Institute. Me, I'm looking forward to next year, by which time I expect to have mastered the basics of peering through magnified glass… While I’m on the subject of suggestions for the magazine, if any of you have any thoughts on features or topics that you would like to see covered here (and we haven't already had a chinwag about it at IJL or Loughborough) then please do feel free to put pen/digit to paper/keyboard. I’d be delighted to hear from you. In the meantime, I hope that you enjoy this month’s issue, in which we talk to John Nichols, the CEO of pawnbroking firm H&T, and our regular ethical jewellery writer Greg Valerio quizzes CAFOD’s Sonia Malder on the realities of dirty gold (in short, just how much difference can retail jewellers really make?). Oh, and IRV member Adrian Smith offers up some really simple but valuable techniques for spotting (and more importantly, preventing) fake valuations. As he warns: the fakes are out there… Jo Young, Editor firstname.lastname@example.org
This month: “We think the
“Jewellers are starting
to notice the resale
jewellers can be,
the more chance
we have of
given the current
price of gold.”
industry as whole.”
The Voice of the Industry 7
Fabergé’s first collection since 1917 debuts online ussian luxury jeweller Fabergé, once favourite of the Russian royal family, has launched its first new in-house designed collection since the revolutionary year of 1917. The company, which was bought by a group of investors in 2003, led by private
The Sadko Sea Horse Brooch, from Fabergé’s new collection
equity firm Pallinghurst Resources, has designed a full range of new fine jewellery pieces, which it will sell online. The collection, entitled Les Fabuleuses comprises 100 items that range in value from £26,000 to £6.2m. It was designed by famed Parisian artist-jeweller Frederic Zaavy, alongside creative director Katharina Flohr, and is faithful to the style of the original brand. “After 89 years in the wilderness, Fabergé is coming back to the market,” said company chief executive Mark Dunhill. Fabergé is, of course, most famous for its jewel-encrusted decorative eggs, which generally raise huge sums at auction; most recently, an antique egg sold in a 2007 auction for £8.9m. However, the firm last produced its own line of jewellery in 1917, the same year that it was nationalised by the Bolsheviks. Since then the company has come under the ownership of several companies, including the most recent, consumer goods giant Unilever, which licensed the name out to jewellery designers to produce collections under the Fabergé name. In an unusual move that has raised eyebrows among the luxury jewellery sector, Fabergé will not open any retail stores, but will sell its new collection exclusively online from a newly-created website. The company will also have a salon in Geneva, Switzerland, and says it will travel to meet its prospective customers.
“Unwise” investments cost Theo Fennell £3.3m uxury jewellery brand Theo Fennell, which reappointed its eponymous designer founder this summer, has lost £3.3m after making what it called “a number of unwise management decisions”. The company was forced to write off £1.3m after a move into the perfume sector collapsed. Its new concessions in Dublin
8 The Jeweller October 2009
and in London’s Westfield shopping centre were also both forced to close within months of their opening at the beginning of the recession last year. Company chief executive Barbara Snoad, who was reappointed to her position in May this year having left the firm back in December 2007, has talked of now taking a
Antique Fabergé pieces have long been prized by collectors
“Ninety five per cent of millionaires prefer to shop online, and we feel [former company boss] Carl Fabergé would have wanted us to innovate in this way,” said Dunhill. Pallinghurst has also appointed Tatiana Fabergé, the great-granddaughter of the celebrated jeweller Peter Carl Fabergé, to advise the company. She was photographed wearing the new jewellery at the launch of the new collection last month. She insisted that her great-grandfather would have been a big fan of online selling. “He was one of the first to electrify his workshop and to have telephones installed. He also published a mail-order catalogue in the 1890s. He would have embraced the internet,” she says.
‘back to basics’ approach. Snoad, having overseen the reappointment of Fennell in this summer’s management reshuffle, was critical of the management decisions made in her absence and said that the brand would now be concentrating again on the jewellery with which it made its name. “Design dried up for a year and the offer became very limited,” she said. The jeweller reported sales of £28.1m in the year to 31 March, but lost £2m on top of the write-down. This compares to the £1.9m profit reported by the company a year earlier. Chairman Rupert Hambro said that trading had not notably improved and admitted that the company has not yet “turned a corner”.
Customers still cautious, say latest figures K retail sales remained unchanged in August compared with the previous month, throwing doubt on the scale of the retail recovery. As was widely reported, retail sales had risen during the summer, leading to analyst predictions of continuing steady growth throughout the autumn and into the crucial Christmas sales period. However, according to the latest figures from the Office of National Statistics, suggestions that the country was moving out of recession and that retail was due to make an imminent ‘full recovery’ may have been slightly premature. Sales fell, according to the ONS, in all non-food sectors, apart from household goods. The worst hit were textile, clothing and footwear stores, where sales dipped during the month by 1.3 per cent. “We expect trading conditions for the remainder of 2009, and into 2010, to continue to be difficult,” said ONS chairman Charlie Mayfield, who forecast a “slow, drawn-out economic recovery”. The ONS was backed by the British Retail Consortium, which said that the results reflected its own figures. “The official data confirms our own findings that the strong retail sales in June and July were not sustained. Our retail sales monitor showed food sales growth was marginally stronger than in July, while clothing and footwear were well down on a year ago – the same picture painted by the ONS,” said the BRC’s director general Stephen Robertson, who warned that
spending was likely to be particularly restrained on high-priced and luxury items. “With unemployment rates at a 14year high and predicted to increase into next year, most people are still very cautious about spending on expensive items – unless there are sufficient discounts,” he said. Robertson also warned the retail sector not to be misled by any seemingly significant increases in sales figures for the final quarter of the year, as any comparison is being made with 2008’s exceptionally poor Christmas statistics. “As we head to the crucial final quarter we mustn’t get carried away if, in the next few months, sales growth data appear particularly strong. The comparison will be with very weak figures last year, when total sales growth fell below zero from October onwards and Christmas was the worst since 1995,” he explained. “The stronger figures of June and July haven’t been sustained. It’s clear the deceptively good sales growth of those months was due to summer sun and price cuts and not down to any major revival in how customers are feeling. What spending we now have is all about value and essentials. “In August, food sales continued to do better than non-food. After two months of growth, clothing and footwear are well down. People are holding off buying autumn and winter clothing till they actually need it. Most people are still very reluctant to spend on expensive household items, unless they’re sufficiently discounted.”
Bransom launches new pawnbroking software T solutions provider Bransom Retail Systems last month launched its first pawnbroking system which, it says, is “designed to support pawnbrokers through every aspect of their day-to-day business”. The new software, which Bransom launched at IJL, has been designed to be very simple to use and works with almost all PCs and, crucially, it can be used across several sites. “According to some users of our jewellery retail trade software, who also trade in the pawnbroking market, a number of the systems currently on the market would appear to have a lot of shortcomings. They all kept pressing us to develop a programme specifically for them,” said Chris Garland, Bransom's managing director. “Some of the businesses that helped us develop the system have up to eight stores, and they have all been operating with independent databases. Now in just a matter of minutes all pledge histories entered in one shop can be available to the others,” he added.
Gem-A set to outsource its testing to SSEF in Basel he Gemmological Association of Great Britain (Gem-A) and the Swiss Gemmological Institute (SSEF) have signed a memorandum of understanding for the former to outsource its gemstone and pearl testing to the SSEF’s headquarters in Basel, Switzerland. The administrative and insurance details are still be finalised, but the arrangement will start on 1 January 2010, with, it is hoped, a pilot scheme in operation within a few weeks. The Gem-A had been in discussions with the SSEF about outsourcing its gemstone testing since closing its own London testing laboratory last year. “I am delighted to announce that gemstone and pearl testing will soon be available again to our UK Members. SSEF is a famous gem lab of an acknowledged world class standard and at the forefront of gemmological research. This agreement builds on the long and close cooperation we have had with the SSEF,” said the Gem-A chief executive Dr Jack Ogden. Dr Michael S. Krzemnicki, the director of the SSEF, said: “We have worked closely with the Gem-A for many years, and this laboratory initiative will hopefully contribute to ever closer cooperation and growth. Our testing for the gem and jewellery industry is vital to our ambitious research programmes, which are of benefit to the entire gemmological community and, ultimately, to consumers.” In addition, the Gem-A has announced the launch of its corporate membership initiative. The new corporate members will receive benefits including the right to display the Gem-A Coat of Arms or corporate logo. “Having celebrated our centenary in 2009, and now facing our second century, it is fitting that we expand our membership categories. Now for the first time, UK businesses, as well as individuals, will be able to demonstrate their on-going commitment to gem knowledge by becoming Members of Gem-A,” said Ogden.
The Voice of the Industry 9
Proud sponsors of the recent NAG Golf Day!
Staff redundancies running at 20% in independent sector round 20 per cent of independent stores were forced to make staff redundancies this year, according to the latest wages survey conducted by the British Shops and Stores Association (BSSA). According to the survey, a further 35 per cent of respondents reduced staff hours to accommodate the downturn in customer traffic. In addition, of the 250 respondents to the survey, around 70 per cent said that they had received no pay increase this year. Of those who received a wage top up, the median average increase this year stood at 3 per cent. However, in a development that BSSA chief executive John Dean called a “silver
lining” for the industry, the retail downturn does appear to have improved the quality of candidate looking to be recruited into the retail sector. Higher levels of unemployment in retail and elsewhere have made it easier in the past year to recruit what the BSSA calls ‘the right staff’. Only 26 per cent of survey respondents reported experiencing recruitment difficulties this year, compared to 40 per cent in 2008. Staff turnover has also dropped to a ‘respectable’ 10 per cent. The average starting wage rate in 2009 was 54p above the national minimum wage compared with 65p last year, which could be seen as a benefit to employers.
New Technomarine boss to oversee ongoing brand reorganisation
atch brand Technomarine has appointed Vincent Perriard as its new chief executive officer, to steer the company through a total brand overhaul and reorganisation. Perriard (right), who joins the company with immediate effect and will lead the company from its headquarters in Geneva, has spent the majority of his career within the watch industry, having held key marketing and management positions including his most recent role as president of the Concord watch brand. Technomarine is undergoing what it calls
“a complete strategic review”, designed to help it capitalise better on its brand strengths. Company chairman Christian Viros (left), announcing the appointment, said, “TechnoMarine was looking for a professional, with proven leadership experience in the watch industry, a dynamic personality with strong knowledge especially of watch marketing, product development as well as distribution on an international basis. Vincent is the person we had been looking for. Under his leadership, we should strongly develop the brand on a worldwide basis.”
“Whilst trading has been very tough for members in the past twelve months, there has been a silver lining, albeit a fairly transparent one,” said Dean. The report also touched on the subject of business confidence, which it said had improved on 2008. However, the survey said, “there remains a high level of anxiety over future trading, particularly in the big ticket sectors”. The BSSA’s wages survey is produced annually, from the input of over 250 independent retailers, and, says the BSSA, it ‘acts as an invaluable benchmark for setting remuneration within the sector’.
Signet sales drop in Q2 S-based jewellery giant Signet Jewelers posted a 6.1 per cent decrease in pretax profits to $38.5m in its second quarter, with same store sales down 5.1 per cent. The company, which operates the Ernest Jones and H Samuel chains in the UK, said that like-for-like sales at its UK division were down 4.3 per cent in the 13 weeks to August 1st, comprising a 2.5 per cent fall at H Samuel and a 6.2 per cent drop at Ernest Jones. However the company said that, despite the tough climate, it was improving its margins in its core US market, where it generates around 80 per cent of its sales. “The diamond category continued to perform well in Ernest Jones, and gold participation was up in H Samuel. The focus on differentiated merchandise and customer service remained priorities,” said the company in a statement. “During the second quarter we made further significant progress toward achieving our strategic and financial objectives. While in the short term, the consumer environment in both the US and the UK remains very uncertain, we are well advanced in our preparations to take advantage of our competitive strengths during the very important holiday season,” said chief executive Terry Burman.
The Voice of the Industry 11
Jeweller Donald Edge designs £1.25m Chambord bottle stablished London-based jeweller Donald Edge has produced a unique £1.25m gem-encrusted version of the iconic Chambord bottle. The French liqueur producer commissioned Edge to produce the piece to mark the opening of the play
Breakfast at Tiffany’s at the Theatre Royal in London, of which it was the lead sponsor. The jeweller, who is well known for producing bespoke diamond and gem-set pieces, unveiled his diamond, gold and pearl-encrusted version of the iconic Chambord Royal orb bottle last month. The work was commissioned to promote the opening of the new Sean Mathiasdirected version of the play, the famed movie adaptation of which starred Audrey Hepburn in 1961. The bespoke, one-off, limited edition bottle features more than 1,100 exquisite round brilliant cut diamonds, in addition to pear cut diamonds, a square cut emerald diamond, round pearls and hand-wrought eighteen carat yellow gold. The bottle was launched at London Fashion Week in September, and was then displayed on the
opening night of the play at the Chambord bar at the Theatre Royal, Haymarket. “To be asked to recreate a jewelled Chambord bottle to celebrate the launch of Breakfast at Tiffany’s is such an honour. The bottle itself, a Royal orb, is such an iconic design – to encrust it in diamonds, pearls and gold will only enhance its natural beauty – it will become a work of art,” said Donald Edge.
Pair charged over Campbell Bridges killing
wo men have been charged over the brutal mob murder of the gemmologist and geologist Campbell Bridges in Kenya in August. The men, Alfred Njiruka and Samuel Masala, who have both denied being involved in the killing of the 71 year old Scotsman, are in custody waiting for a trial date to be set. Njiruka is understood to be at the head of a group of small-scale miners operating in the same area as Bridges, near the
southern town of Voi. “These men were positively identified by witnesses during a parade as the ones involved in the attack,” said the coast region police chief Leo Nyongesa. Campbell Bridges was a celebrated gemmologist, credited with having discovered the tsavorite gemstone in the late 1960s, in the east African bush near the Kenyan border with Tanzania. He also helped to bring tanzanite, the blue/green gemstone
Clogau unveils new charity ‘pin’ elsh brand Clogau Gold is to support Marie Curie Cancer Care with the launch of an exclusive daffodil stick pin, sales of which will raise money for the charity. The silver and rose gold daffodil pin, which is to be added to the company’s existing daffodil range, will retail for £99, of which £10 from each sale will be donated to Marie Curie. This is the second piece of jewellery that Clogau has produced this year in aid of the charity. Its first, a silver and rose gold matching pendant, was launched in March. Worn by Welsh Gavin and Stacy actress Joanna Page, the pendant has become one of the company’s best-selling items and, according to Clogau, the new piece has been launched in response to customer demand for a men’s item in the charity range. The company is hoping to raise at least £15,000 for the specialist nursing care charity.
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found only in Tanzania, onto the international jewellery market following its discovery in 1967. It is believed that he became involved in a dispute over mining rights in the southeastern region of the country, and on August 11th, he was attacked and killed by a mob of around a dozen suspected illegal prospectors, armed with arrows, spears and machetes in a mining area near Tsavo West National park.
All enquiries please contact our Customer Care Team on:
0800 169 3647 Website: www.dyrbergkern.com
Cartier takes treasures to the Forbidden City
uxury jeweller Cartier opened a spectacular new exhibition of its jewellery last month, held at the Palace Museum in Beijing, China. The exhibition, called King of Jewellers, Jewellers to Kings, features precious antique pieces on what Cartier calls ‘an unprecedented scale’. “The exhibition assembles the essences of the East and West, demonstrating the Palace Museum's dedication to world art,” said a company statement. Held until the 22nd November, it will showcase over 350 items from the Cartier collection, including documents from the company’s founding in 1847, and several unique pieces from the 1970s. Reflecting the ‘east and west’ theme, the exhibition also contains pieces of Chinese-influenced laquerware, inlaid with mother of pearl, along with early 20th century carved and engraved jade items.
Visa card charge hike will hurt retailers, says BRC harge card operator Visa’s plans to increase its card charges could add up to £20m to UK retailers costs at a time when they can least afford it, claimed the British Retail Consortium (BRC) . Visa announced its plans to hike up its charges in late September, launching a flurry of protest from retailers and industry groups. According to the BRC, the price increases could ultimately force retailers to increase their prices to consumers. The BRC is calling on Visa to justify its charges – what Visa calls its ‘card scheme fees’ – which are expected to increase by
14 The Jeweller October 2009
as much as 142 per cent. These are the non-negotiable charges paid by retailers’ banks and card processors to Visa to be part of its card network which, said the BRC, will inevitably be passed onto customers. A second charge levied by Visa, the interchange fee, is under investigation, say the BRC, by the European Commission and the Office of Fair Trading. The BRC fears that Visa is looking for huge increases in its other charges to compensate for any loss of revenues. “Visa’s card scheme fees hike is totally unjustified. At a time when technological
advances have dramatically reduced the cost of processing card transactions, we’d expect card charges to fall – not shoot up. Retailers are already dealing with tough trading conditions and shoppers are also watching the pennies. As Visa ramps up its fees it will hit retailers at a time when they can least afford it, while pushing up shop prices and hurting cost conscious customers,” said Stephen Robertson, the BRC director general. “Visa’s fees should be transparent and must only include charges that truly reflect the costs involved in processing transactions,” he said.
Damiani optimistic for Christmas talian jeweller Damiani, which recently announced the signing of its latest ‘celebrity designer’ Sharon Stone, is expecting a better Christmas this year than in 2008, after disappointing sales over the summer. Chief executive Guido Damiani, who described the company’s summer sales performance as “not great”, said that he believed there was now more confidence among its partners and retailers than there was earlier in the year. “There is a more optimistic feeling around. People are more open to projects. I believe Christmas will be a little better this year than last year,” he said. In its first quarter, Damiani reported a net loss of €3 million on sales of €33.4 million, down from from €39.2 million a year ago, when the company posted a net profit of €2.1 million. Damiani, which operates 80 stores
worldwide, customarily makes nearly half its annual turnover during the final quarter of the year. Following the company’s acquisition of the jewellery and watch retail chain Rocca last year, around 85 per cent of sales come from wholesale, down from 95 per cent beforehand. Damiani suggested that jewellery had been the hardest hit sector of luxury retailing. He also said that, despite having lower capital expenditure this year than in 2008, the company would be open to acquisitions if good opportunities arose. “We are not looking but we could take it into consideration, if there is a good opportunity,” he said. On the product side, the Italian firm is to launch a new watch line at Basel next Spring, along with the Sharon Stone co-designed range, which aims to raise money for water charities in Africa.
Horus signs F1’s Fisichella
wiss watchmaker Horus has struck a sponsorship deal with the F1 driver Giancarlo Fisichella. Horus, which sells tailor-made watches, jewellery and leather accessories, plans to launch a new custom collection of sports watches to mark the new partnership. Announcing its partnership with the driver at the Italian Grand Prix in Monza, Horus founder André Grossmann presented Fisichella with a one-off version of its Ultramarinium watch.
Ortak reports half year sales uplift rkey-based jeweller Ortak has reported a 3.6 per cent rise in like-for-like sales for the six months to 31st July. Sales at Ortak, which recently appointed actress Jill Halfpenny as its latest model (pictured), increased by £95,000 to £2.8m. The company said it was now on course to hit its increased turnover target of £7.6m this year, up from the £7.2m reported last time. Internet sales were particularly strong at the firm, with online sales up by 27 per cent from last year. The company is to open its 15th store, in the Thistles shopping centre in Stirling, this month. It is also planning on relocating its Glasgow store, from Argyle Street to a new ‘boutique’ store location in the city’s St Enoch centre, the first of a series of store revamps planned. “Our market share is continuing to hold up well in comparison to other retail sectors, largely due to the importance of special occasions and gifting periods,” said managing director Alistair Gray.
The Voice of the Industry 17
F Hinds opens new look High Wycombe store ewellery chain F Hinds has opened a new store in High Wycombe, Buckinghamshire, its first new opening of the year that replaces its former shop in the town. The newly-designed boutique, which will specialise in fine jewellery and which
has a five metre watch display window, replaces the former F Hinds store on nearby White Hart Street, which the retailer says has been “totally eclipsed” by the newly designed outlet. The store was opened by the two year old
Charlie Hinds (pictured), the sixth generation of the Hinds family and son of company director Andrew (also pictured, alongside father Roy Hinds, company Chairman). In September, the company reported a 4 per cent drop in annual turnover to £50.8m, after suffering poor trading last Christmas. In the year to March 29, pre-tax profits fell to £990,048 from over £2.4m the previous year. However Andrew Hinds confidently predicted an imminent upturn in the market. “We certainly hope we can do better likefor-like this year,” he said. “The year has been better than expected and we have revised up our budgets. It is not a bonanza but it could have been worse,” he said. Hinds also said that sales of silver jewellery continued to do better than sales of gold, thanks to the comparative prices of the two metals and the continuing fashion for white metal jewellery. The High Wycombe opening takes the F Hinds portfolio to 109 stores, mainly in the south and in Wales, and the company plans to open a small number of additional stores during the coming financial year, if the right locations can be found.
Pandora set for 100 store retail expansion anish ‘bead’ brand Pandora is gearing up for an invasion of the UK high street, with as many as 75 to 100 standalone store openings planned by the end of next year. Pandora’s UK managing director recently said that, thanks to the company’s phenomenal success as a wholesaler in the UK market, the company now planned to open as many as 100 franchised stores throughout the country, adding to the 10 it already operates here. The brand’s 10th standalone store, in the Westfield shopping centre in London, opened in September and an 11th boutique will open on London’s Oxford Street in November. The brand also has a growing retail presence in the UK in concessions. It operates a concession in London’s Selfridges store,
18 The Jeweller October 2009
again on Oxford Street, and is soon to open in the department store chain’s Manchester and Birmingham branches. It has also operated concessions within Ernest Jones, but is moving to the Signet-owned ‘sister’ chain Leslie Davis. Pandora, founded in Copenhagen by Per and Winnie Enevoldsen, has been one of the
most notable success stories of recent years, becoming a market leader at the forefront of the bead bracelet trend. The company sources its products from its own factory in Japan, and has two designers producing its ranges. The company is now represented throughout North America, the Middle East, Asia and Europe.
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NAG at IJL 2009 nternational Jewellery London 2009 recorded the highest ever attendance figure in its 53 year history, with the show being overwhelmed with positivity from visitors and exhibitors. This year, IJL launched the Editor’s Choice Award to recognise leading jewellery designers and producers that are setting the latest consumer and
fashion trends. Jewellery and uxury journalist, Claire Adler, selected designers with innovative and cutting-edge new pieces and collections. Congratulations to Lucy Quartermaine, designer of Lucy Q who received the award for her Splat bangle. The NAG once again brought together a packed programme of events that included
New NAG membership logos unveiled at IJL t has been a summer of anticipation for NAG members, but at this year’s IJL the new membership logos were finally unveiled… and they certainly seem to have more colour than our British weather. The new logos, which have been designed specifically for affiliate and allied members to illustrate the level of their relationship with the NAG, incorporate the existing design of the blue NAG logo alongside a coloured tab naming the level of membership. The logos, for which the NAG received many requests, will make it easier for members of the public to identify an NAG member and the category of membership they belong to. One of the NAG’s newest allied members, Dion Smith of D S Jewellery Services, has
20 The Jeweller October 2009
been eagerly awaiting the logos over the summer. “It means a lot to be able to use this logo. It gives customers confidence in my business, by being a part of an organisation that has been established and respected for so long. It’s a great asset to have to gain a customer’s trust, as they know the NAG is on my side,” he said. The privilege of displaying the Association’s Grant of Arms remains with full members, who have also had a new logo designed for their use on electronic sources. Alongside the three new logos, a fourth has been created for British designer-makers – a category that the NAG is looking to promote in the near future. Enquiries for this category can be made by calling the membership department on 020 7613 4445.
the unveiling of new membership logos, business health checks and the IRV Loughborough Conference Seminar. The highlight to the week was the relaunch of the updated Professional Jewellers’ Diploma which was well received at a champagne reception hosted by education and training chairman Mark Adlestone (Beaverbrooks). The new look course promises to make learning more fun and exciting thanks to an injection of humour. To find out more details contact the NAG’s education department on 020 7613 4445 (option 1) or email email@example.com It was also a great opportunity to welcome so many of our members to the stand at this year’s IJL show whilst also taking time to promote the NAG’s benefits and services to prospective members. The NAG held a daily stand competition to win an iPod Shuffle and the following were the lucky winners: • Sun – Ivan Taylor of Truscott Jewellers, Gloucester • Mon – TCJ Designs, York • Tues – Sunil Pala of Goldbox, Wembley • Weds – Helen Bettles of World of Watches Pictured is Helen Bettles receiving her prize from the NAG’s President Patrick Fuller and Chairman Frank Wood. The dates for IJL 2010 show are 5th – 8th September 2010, Earls Court Two. See you there!
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NAG staff running 10k for charity
New Member Applications To ensure that NAG members are aware of new membership applications within their locality, applicants’ names are published below. Members wishing to comment on any of these applications can call Harshita Deolia on 020 7613 4445 or email: firstname.lastname@example.org within three weeks of receipt of this issue.
Ordinary Applications John R. Fox Jewellers (John R. Fox) Guildford Lumar Jewels (Andrew Marshall) Gravesend T Conroy Jewellers (Stephen Conroy) Northumberland Nigel Pearce & Son Jewellers (Darius Pearce) Jersey George Truscott (Ivan Taylor) Gloucester Leslie Cass Jewellers (Clive Cass) Sheffield Solitaire Jewellers (Darren Dinwell) Penge Pearls of Alfriston (Diane Meek) Alfriston, East Sussex The Studio Jewellery Wrokshop (Steve Plowman) Fortrose, Scotland The Diamond Centre (Mike Christopher) Hockley, Birmingham Martin Wilde Jewellers (Martin Wilde) West Malling J.S. Jewellers (James Jerrett), Poole, Dorset
hree members of NAG HQ will take part in a 10k run in October, to raise money for a leading cancer charity. Financial administrator Henrik Dinesen, information manager Faye Hadlow and education administrator Jason Harrison will all complete the London run on 18th October in aid of Cancer Research. “I’m really looking forward to running for such a good cause. The fact that I’ll be raising money for Cancer Research will be enough to spur me on to complete the race,” said Faye Hadlow. The runners are feeling slightly less charitable to each other, however. “It has become really competitive already. In the beginning, we were just talking about wanting to finish, but now it seems to be about who will beat who and who will get the most money,” said Jason Harrison. This is the latest in a number of charity events undertaken by the NAG’s staff this year. In May, the office raised £157 for the Multiple Sclerosis Society by baking cakes as part of the MS Cake Bake campaign, while the Association’s CEO Michael Hoare also raised money for the charity with a sponsored walk. Tutor Eddie Stanley recently ran the City of Manchester 10k run and raised over £2000 as part of a 10 man team for a local charity. If you would like to sponsor the NAG’s Jason, Faye and Henrik in their charity run, go to www.justgiving.com/NAG-NAG1/
New look JET prospectus I
t is not just the Professional Jewellers’ Diploma that has had a makeover this autumn; the JET course prospectus has a brand new look too. “Once we updated the course, we turned our attention to the prospectus,” said Victoria Wingate, the NAG’s education manager. “It is now much fresher, much clearer and far easier to find out all you need to know about the JET courses on offer.” For further details on the relaunch of the Professional Jewellers’ Diploma, go to page 58. To order your copy of the new prospectus email: email@example.com or call 020 7613 4445 (option 1). You can also download the prospectus from the NAG website at: www.jewellers-online.org.
22 The Jeweller October 2009
Suzanna Mufeed, Reading, Berkshire Carla Patricia Dos Reis Nunes, St. Helier Nadine Harrison, Ipswich, Suffolk Margaret Rennie, Bothwell, Glasgow Jessica Pumphrey, Piccadilly Svetlana Chichina, Fulham
IRV Applications If members wish to comment on any IRV applications they should contact Sandra Page on (029) 2081 3615.
New Member Kathryn Willis PJValDip FNAG FGA BA(Hons), Buntingford
Upgrading from Member to Fellow James E Chanter PJDip FNAG FGA, Newton Abbot Avril F Plant PJDip FNAG FGA HRDCDG, Stone Richard P Taylor PJDip FNAG FGA DGA, Shrewsbury
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NAG teeing off for charity NAG chairman Frank Wood reports back on the Association’s first golfing tournament this summer, in which over £1000 was raised for the Centenary Trust. he long awaited golf tournament, held at Fulford Golf Club in York, arrived on the 1st June. The day was blessed with a sky without a single cloud in it – conditions that held out for the rest of the day. When I arrived at the golf club at 8.30am, the professional judge was already there and had everything set out for the arrival of the competitors. Shortly after, there was a roar of a powerful engine outside, marking the arrival of Mark Thorne from Concept Smoke Screen, who had arrived in the EVO 9 car which was the prize for the ‘nearest the pin’ competition. Well, the prize was not the car itself, but a track day in which a budding racing car driver would be allowed to test his or her abilities on a track in a very powerful car. The car, all shining and polished, was parked next to the 18th green to show it off.
Guests arrived and were treated to some excellent bacon sandwiches and tea and coffee; after a short presentation by me about the course and local rules (including a warning about the temperature and an offer of sun tan lotion!), we were off.
My team was the first out, with mixed results as one tee shot had to be retaken for a lost ball! After the 18 holes, which were the next thing to paradise with the weather being so superb, we returned to the clubhouse a great deal ‘pinker’ than when we started. There was also a 9 hole putting competition to complete. As the competition was a charity fundraising exercise, there were a few ‘fines’ for less than perfect play – missing the green on one hole, missing the fairway on another and landing in a bunker on a third. The fine was £5 for each misdemeanour – I have to admit that I failed all three! The total monies raised from fines alone totalled £240! After the round of golf and the putting competition, there was a cool drink and afternoon tea, followed by a shower and a change for dinner. Before dinner we were treated to a champagne reception by sponsors www.rolexrepairs.com, to whom we are very grateful for their generosity and welcome drink. I was called to one side by our professional scorer to be given the embarrassing news that I had won the competition. I had only taken up the sport some 18 months previously
As the competition was a charity fund-raising exercise, there were ‘fines’ for less than perfect play – missing the green on one hole, missing the fairway on another and landing in a bunker on a third – I have to admit that I failed all three! Individual and team photographs were taken by two professional photographers (from www.eventphotosyork.co.uk) on the first tee. There was also a video taken of each competitor’s first drive. The course was in absolutely superb condition, with the greens like ironed baize, well in excess of the standards you would expect even from this championship course – well done to the greenkeepers.
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24 The Jeweller October 2009
JEWELLER After a superb dinner, there was a short address by Robert Vander Woerd, chairman of the Centenary Trust charity, the recipient of the funds raised. Robert described the charity's work and gave some examples of some students that had been assisted. Our new President Patrick Fuller then presented the main prize, after I had presented the remaining prizes of the day. The results were as follows:NAG Challenge Trophy – Frank Wood Winning Team – Michael Brammall, Robin Henderson and Phil Duckworth Putting Competition – Stuart Hopper (sponsored by Laurence Watson & Co) Longest Drive – Mark Adlestone (sponsored by Domino Castings) Nearest the Pin – John Clifford (sponsored by Concept Smoke Screen) The day ended with some very positive feedback, and a drink or two to celebrate. The high point of the event was the discovery that a grand total of £1,028.40 had been raised for the charity!
for the purposes of this competition, the organisation of which the NAG Board had left in my hands. The score of 37 points was only the equivalent of one shot under my handicap, but had been enough to win! I had a discussion with the chief executive and a past chairman to decide whether or not I should step down from the ‘podium’ but it was felt that any change to the results would not be fair, or the right result; therefore it was agreed that I should retain my first ever golfing trophy.
International industry golf competition
ollowing two very successful NAG golf competitions, it would appear that there is an appetite for an international match between England, Ireland, Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales. There are many English players interested, there is a huge appetite in Scotland and, at the NAG AGM in London, the Irish showed their great enthusiasm for the idea. The first match will be held in York at the championship Fulford course – once home to the Benson and Hedges competition. The date for this inaugural event has not yet set (it will be agreed between the representatives of each country, although it is proposed to be sometime in May 2010), but it has the potential to be a very interesting, fiercely competitive, and highly enjoyable competition. The competition will be open to all sectors of the industry – manufacturers, suppliers and retailers – and teams will be made up of between 16 and 20 players from each country. It is proposed that the winning country will host the following year’s competition, and that each country will host one in five competitions. Representatives are needed from each country to help select their team. Offers have already come from potential team captains from Scotland, Ireland and England, but golfers are still needed from Northern Ireland and Wales. This is an ‘across the board’ event for everyone from the jewellery industry and therefore each team, where possible, should contain members from all sectors. This competition offers jewellers from across the UK and Ireland a valuable and fun networking opportunity: we expect a small amount of banter and heckling, but promise a huge amount of fun as well. If you would like further information, or you are interested in sponsoring this event, contact the NAG Chairman, Frank Wood, on 01904 625274 / 0777 1616457 or e-mail: email@example.com
The Voice of the Industry 25
f someone was to ask the average consumer for the first thing that enters their head when they think of pawnbroking, the chances are that the responses they’d get would not be terribly positive. Seedy, maybe? Low value? Intimidating? While stories currently abound about the apparent rush of people flocking to pawn shops to make their fortune from unwanted gold (more of which later), the fact remains that modern pawnbroking still, to a large extent, carries around with it a slightly grubby reputation – and one that H&T boss John Nichols, unsurprisingly, is adamant that it doesn’t deserve. Indeed, probably the only thing that the pawnbroking trade of old has in common with the modern pawnbroking of which H&T is market leader is the three ‘golden balls’ symbol still to be found above pawnbroking shops around the UK. Pawnbroking – rather like the jewellery industry as a whole – has had an incredibly long history in the UK and elsewhere around the world. The trade has existed in the west since Ancient Greek times, and many of the laws governing it today stem from those that were put in place during the Roman Empire. In this country, the first pawnbrokers came with William the Conqueror; they were almost exclusively Italian merchants, known as Lombards, and the House of Lombard became a notalways-popular banking family in medieval
The industry has moved far away from its negative associations in recent years and H&T, led by Nichols, is spearheading the change. THE
JEWELLER interviews John Nichols John Nichols, chief executive of Harvey & Thompson, talks to Amy Gregson about the boom in business experienced by the pawnbroking sector over the past year, and gives his predictions for the industry’s future.
26 The Jeweller October 2009
London. Even then, the fingers of the pawnbroking industry were far reaching. Then, as now, pawnbroking was used by folks from all echelons of society as a way of generating cash when money was tight: apparently Edward III pawned his jewels to the Lombards in 1338 in order to raise funds for his war with France. (Don’t ask which war with France, it was kind of an ongoing hobby at the time…). With around 1000 pawnbrokers in the UK at the present time, the industry has moved far away from any negative associations in recent years; and one of the companies heading up this change is H&T, led by Nichols. H&T’s own history is a far-reaching one, as the company is one of the longest
feature established names in the industry. It has been in the pawnbroking business since 1897, when Charles James Thompson and Walter Harvey opened their first store in Vauxhall Bridge Road in South London. After almost 100 years of continual trading, and with stores scattered around the country from places as far afield as Hastings on the South coast and Dundee in Scotland, H&T was bought out in 1992 by the US pawnbroking and ‘cash services’ giant Cash America (described by the financial services directory Hoovers as ‘the King of Pawns’). The takeover was a major departure point for H&T, as such deals often are for independent businesses; to become a part of an international store portfolio of over 500 pawnbroking outlets – Cash American has interests in Australia as well as the UK and North America – was a significant departure for a firm that had, until that point, enjoyed a century’s worth of independent retailing. For his part, John Nichols joined some five years after the Cash America buy out, coming to H&T as managing director following a long career in the leisure industry, working for the Rank Organisation. Nichols’ experience with Rank gave him insight into what he felt would be the ideal areas of the country for H&T to expand into and, equally importantly, how to get new customers coming into these branches. Taking a refreshingly hands-on approach for someone in senior management, Nichols took his research to the streets. He spent some time, he tells me, visiting pawnbrokers – with his wife’s jewellery in his hand! – to see what his competitors were doing, and how he could set H&T apart from them.
Changing the public perception of pawnbroking is one of the key things on Nichols’ agenda. “It’s important that the business is customer facing, on the high street, not down some side entrance with a bell that looks more intimidating than inviting,” he says. And these are not empty words: H&T has put Nichol’s customer-facing rule into action in its stores across the country. Following a retail overhaul, the stores are now consistent in appearance and, crucially, they are open-plan, light and airy and look like any other mid-level high street jewellery shops. There are separate areas for jewellery retailing, which have window and cabinet displays just like any other jeweller, while the pawnbroking section of each store is similar in appearance to a modern bank counter. No sour-faced Dickensian types with fingerless woollen gloves behind the counters here.
He’s also keen to replace the image of the back street money lender who is out to take the treasured possessions of needy people with nowhere else to turn. “The funny thing is, pawnbrokers don’t actually want the goods. They aren’t in the business of reselling goods that haven’t been redeemed. A good pawnbroker will only lend you what you need to borrow, not necessarily the full value of the item. By lending what the customer can afford to repay, you ensure that they come back – not only to reclaim their goods, but they will also come to you in the future when they need another loan,” he says. Treating customers with respect has led to great loyalty, something lacking all too often in this current climate. “Each customer has an average of 2.5 pledges with a pawnbroker at any one time, and 80 per cent of those will come back for their goods,” explains Nichols. “Of the 20 per cent who don’t return, it is unlikely that they will default on all their pledges, they may come back for two out of three that they make. Most people who pawn their goods are using their assets to get a short term loan, though more are now also coming back to purchase goods when they have money.” Greater transparency about how the business of pawnbroking works has played a key role in improving the public’s view of it too. Nichols himself welcomes any increased media interest in the pawnbroking industry – of which there has been much in recent months, as businesses like H&T have continued to increase their profits in contrast to the retail downturn generally. “The public image of pawnbroking is changing. As President of the National Pawnbrokers Association, I welcome the media into our profession,” says Nichols.
The Voice of the Industry 27
“We’ve got nothing to hide, nothing to be ashamed of, and it’s important to get that message out there. We’ve got the broadsheets on side, and most of the tabloids, but it’s important that we keep our image up.” Of course, Nichols has reason to feel positive. Apart from this year’s gratifyingly robust financial figures, the business as a
Taking a refreshingly handson approach for someone in senior management, Nichols took his research to the streets. whole has undergone an impressive rate of growth under Nichols’ stewardship. In 1997, H&T had 37 stores and growth was fairly slow in the UK; then owners Cash America were, at that stage, concentrating on developing their core businesses in the US and the focus of investment and expansion attention was not on H&T. By 2004, H&T had swelled its store numbers to 57 branches and Nichols, with equity backing from the Rutland Trust, then led a successful management buyout of the company. Nichols’ ambitions for the brand were substantial; you can’t, he declares, be a successful national brand with just 57 stores. So, two years later, in 2006, the company floated on the stock market and it continues to grow steadily. H&T is now comprised of 106 branches, and the
28 The Jeweller October 2009
company is planning further expansion still with an additional 11 stores expected to open before the end of 2009. This kind of growth is eyebrow-raisingly notable at the best of times, but in the grip of a recession, the continuing high speed of expansion is particularly illustrative of the health of the pawnbroking sector and the strength of the H&T brand. Expansion plans are not just developed blindly at H&T though. “When we look at where to open new stores, we cluster out from existing ones, the idea being that each branch is never more than 60 minutes from another one. This gives us ease of training and allows for better staff coverage in cases of illness.” Tellingly, Nichols says that he expects pawnbroking to be
H&T’s oldest store in Edinburgh
dominated by large companies with three or four brands and around 200 branches each within the next five years – clearly, he sees H&T’s place at the top of this consolidating pile. The growth at H&T is in part being helped by an increase in the amount of second hand jewellery the company sells, an element of the business that the management team first introduced back in 2002. This stock doesn’t come from pledges that have not been redeemed, but from people who just want to clear out their homes and sell old pieces that they don’t want any more. The increase in selling jewellery, however, hasn’t been at the expense of the pawnbroking side of the business. “There has been a change in the overall customer base at the stores, not necessarily in the people who are using the pawnbroking service, but in those who are selling gold,” he explains. “There has not been a degradation of the pawnbroking side of the business and, in fact, we are getting a whole new customer base from those people who are coming in to sell gold. People are much happier about selling anything now, because businesses like eBay have made secondhand selling more mainstream, commonplace and acceptable.” Luckily for H&T, the public’s enthusiasm for online selling – through the likes of eBay and other second-hand marketplace sites, the number of which has been steadily increasing on the Internet in recent years – hasn’t had a detrimental effect on H&T’s share of the market. In fact, he says, eBay and the like has provided Nichols and his team with a valuable research tool, as the company prepares to launch its own transactional site.
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John Nichols, chief executive and Alex Maby, finance director
“Online businesses such as eBay and borrow.com haven’t affected us. In fact, we’re hoping to move into the online world in around a year’s time ourselves, so we’re looking to them for information and comparing what they’re doing with our plans.” Likewise, Nichols is unfazed by the traditional jewellers who are moving into the resale market. “Jewellers are starting to notice the resale opportunities of second hand jewellery, especially given the current price of gold, but as far as I’m concerned, bring the competition on. If they are good enough they will succeed and that’s good for the industry all round.” Moving into a new sector – such as jewellery resale – is not without its risks. H&T has recently appointed Peter Kelly as its operations manager with a specific remit to develop the retail side of the business. Kelly has a strong retail background, working as regional manger for the retail group Arcadia, as well as retail director, and later commercial director, for weekly payments company BrightHouse. “We’re really working on the retail side of the business as we’ve got to ensure that we get the value message across to customers. We can’t have a ‘barcode’ mentality, as some do, as we never know what stock we are going to have coming in.” Innovation is, as Nichols sees it, a key aspect to ensuring business survival in the retail sector. “You have to keep moving forward and offering the customer something
30 The Jeweller October 2009
new. We always try to bring in new ideas to keep our customers interested and enthusiastic about our offer. We’ve recently introduced recycling bags, for example, which came from an idea by a member of staff in Bolton. We give customers small plastic bags, in which they can collect all their odd gold earrings, broken chains, old brooches and so on. Given the high price of gold at the moment, people are often surprised by what their ‘junk’ is actually
worth and they will often buy a new piece of jewellery from us with the money they made selling the old.” Another sign that pawnbroking is moving with the times is the proliferation of television adverts from companies offering both pledge and retail opportunities to consumers, something H&T has been quick to join in with. As Nichols puts it, advertising like this allows you to easily reaches a potential consumer who may not have thought that
“A good pawnbroker will only lend you what you need to borrow, not necessarily the full value of the item.”
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The Voice of the Industry 31
feature pawnbrokers offered services such as buying gold with no need to make a pledge. However, innovation and new business opportunities will not help a company if its staff do not connecting with the customers, and Nichols is keen to point out that H&T’s investment in its people is significant. “The key to success for any business is its staff. The staff/customer relationship is so important. We regularly send mystery shoppers in to our stores to ensure everything is how it should be. Our staff are self coached to encourage them to get it right and improve if necessary. They also get quarterly and annual bonuses. Staff know when they’ve
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got it right and we’re always striving to be the best.” As a major proportion of H&T’s business now concerns the sale of second hand jewellery, the company’s sales staff can also now obtain NAG JET qualifications to ensure that they know the products they are selling. Nichols is also keen to correct some of the general public’s misconceptions regarding the interest rates charged by pawnbrokers. “APR isn’t the correct way to measure short term loans such as pledges in a pawnbrokers. Given that most items are pawned on a six month term, the rates of interest are competitive, as people cannot get these sorts of loans from high street banks. It may be that the interest cost from a pawnbroker on an item is less than unauthorised overdraft fees from their bank. The other advantage is that that the customer has access to the money immediately, rather than having to wait for applications to be processed and credit checked. This is something that appeals to the 10 per cent of our customer base that is made up of businesses.” It is important to Nichols that the regulators understand the reasons why, on paper at least, pawnbroking interest rates vary greatly from those offered by traditional banks.
32 The Jeweller October 2009
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“Pawnbroking takes place in one form or another across the world, whether it’s state run, private or outlawed. If there is a move towards interest rate capping to a point where it makes the business unworkable, such as 2 per cent, then I’ll just walk away. However, if detrimental rate caps are brought in, there is a very real danger that there will be a large increase in unregulated lending.”
“Jewellers are starting to notice the resale opportunities of second hand jewellery, especially given the price of gold, but as far as I’m concerned, bring the competition on.”
Contrary to expectations, H&T has not seen any real effect of the credit crunch on business. “The increase in pawnbroking as a result of the credit crunch has been a bit of a myth. Our business is growing at the same rate as it was five or even seven years ago,” he insists. This could be due in part to the fact that, as Nichols puts it, there is no real ‘season’ for pawnbroking. “It’s fairly average throughout the year, though there is a slight increase after Christmas when people get the bills through. Retail is different however, and the November/ December peak is very noticeable.” Despite all the changes to pawnbroking and pawnbrokers, and despite all the modernisation and diversification the trade has undergone in recent times there is still one aspect of pawnbroking history that John Nichols is pleased the public still associate with it: “The three balls,” he laughs. “Everyone knows what they mean. It’s one of the I strongest brands going!”
Nomination’s new Chic collection marks a progression from the company’s ready-towear range, Extension, and is built on the stretchy stainless steel bracelet concept. This time, the bracelets and matching rings are designed to twist together to give a layered look. The collection is available in autumnal brown, black and clear stones and lighter, brighter stones for summer.
… some of the hottest new pieces available for the key Christmas selling period.
‘Big, bold and with no enamel in sight’, says Kokkino of its new collection. Designed to offer luxury at affordable prices – ranging from £95 to £450 retail – the collection uses warm surface textures and gold detailing in its latest pieces to suggest preciousness, and the design, such as on this striking duo bangle, is confidently modern.
New York designer Cynthia Gale has been inspired by this year’s celebration of the legendary Woodstock festival: peace and love motifs abound in her latest work. GeoArt is an oxidised silver line designed to have the appearance of classic 1960s and ’70s textile prints, while the Imagine Peace collection (pictured) was created in partnership with the US Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, and again features peace signs, roses and other signatures of the ‘flower power’ era.
The Illumini collection, which Rokio launched at IJL this year, is a sleek and tactile range of wearable jewellery that has been set with Swarovski ‘champagne’ stones. It also includes two limited edition pieces – including the one shown here – which have been set with Swarovski black cubic zirconias.
To celebrate its 80th anniversary, the Italian jeweller Fope has released a limited edition range entitled Flex’It Niue. The range, the curious moniker for which has been taken from the Pacific island of the same name, comprises four 18 carat bracelets in white, yellow and rose gold, and comes in three different wrist sizes. Retail prices start at £2175.
Quintessentially British luxury brand DAKS has teamed up with Robert Tateossian to create a range of cufflinks. There are four designs in the collection, which have been inspired by original pieces from the DAKS archive. Just 50 pairs of each design, all of which feature the brand's classic colours of ‘Vicuna’ and camel, will be produced.
Cherry Blossom, the latest award-winning collection from Shaun Leane, takes its inspiration from the Japanese cherry blossom legend, in which the pretty white and pink flowers are said to have been planted by a goddess from the clouds above Mount Fuji. Featuring delicate enamelled flowers and a soft colour palette, the tone of this collection is a subtle departure for the London-based designer.
In an exciting new move, amber specialist Goldmajor has brought out a new collection made with ancient Roman glass. The silver pieces are made with glass that has been buried in mineral-rich damp soil for up to 2000 years, allowing it to take on a natural fluorescence through oxidisation. The results are beautifully simple in design but carry a remarkable depth of colour.
Sonia Spencer, one of the UK’s most established cufflinks designers, has introduced a fabulous new range of reversible designs that are bursting with colours taken from Pantone’s iconic colour charts. These clever little pieces, which are designed to work as two pairs in one, are retro-styled and come in 12 enamelled steel colour combinations.
Pekan Jewellery, which is sold by a number of independent jewellers around the UK, has introduced three new pieces to its collection, including this fashion-inspired Oslo ring. Designed for impact, the ring is made with gold-plated silver and set with zirconias and crystal.
Pulsar’s Sahara collection is a range of limited edition sports watches designed for the World Rally Championship team, BP Ford Abu Dhabi. It includes this alarm chronograph, in which the team’s blue and black colours are present on the strap and dial. The team logo has also been engraved onto the case back along with the unique limited edition serial number. 2000 pieces will be sold worldwide from December.
The much-anticipated new selection by hugely-popular Trollbeads brand was on show at Earls Court last month, and interest was keen. The new glass collection of beads (pictured) draws its inspiration from the hot shades of the desert, moving away from the bright, fun colour palette of summer.
New brand Just J, which made its debut at IJL this year, has produced a line of jewellery 'symbols' designed to inspire the wearer with messages such as Love, Joy and Inner Peace. Available in silver or in combination with gold and diamonds, the collection includes clip and ribbon charms, necklaces, earrings and bracelets in bright and cheery colours.
British designer Emma Chapman has produced a new range of gemstone fashion jewellery, Mandala, which has been inspired by ‘a mix of ancient regal cultures such as the Baroque, Mughal and Roman eras’. Chapman, who lives much of the year in Goa, is also heavily influenced by Indian fashion, symbols and culture.
The latest limited edition model by Fortis is the dark and glamorous all-black B-42 Black & Black Automatic day/date. Shown for the first time at Basel this year, the watch will appeal to purists among watch lovers. The watch has a titanium case, coated in PVD, housing a Swiss automatic movement with day/date indication (20 bar/200m waterproof).
LILLI & KOE
Finesse, the UK’s largest fashion jewellery supplier, has launched a new bespoke line called Lilli & Koe, which has been curated by former Harrods buyer Lillian Liveracos. The collection, which will be targeted at department stores and boutiques, marks new territory for Finesse which has always concentrated on the middle market. The first Lilli & Koe range consists of necklaces, rings, earrings, cuffs and bangles, with prices from £59 to £579.
Clogau Gold has introduced a new rose and yellow gold ‘Make a Wish’ Collection, consisting of gold wishbone-shaped wedding and engagement rings. The engagement ring (pictured here with the wedding ring), is set with a 0.75 carat diamond and is inscribed with the Welsh word cariad, which means ‘beloved’. The ring retails at £6000.
PEPPERPINK KATIE ROWLAND
Siren is the latest autumn/winter collection by up-and-coming designer Katie Rowland. The star piece from the collection is undoubtedly these platinum and diamond set earrings (pictured), with which Rowland scooped the Lonmin Design Innovation Award for Platinum 2009 (Emerging Designer Category) this September.
Luxury jewellery supplier Mark Milton has added a fashion twist to its brand portfolio with the diffusion line PepperPink. The new 9 carat and 18 carat gold collection, which has been put together by Mark Milton and creative design head Sally Ayres, is made up of 250 branded pieces and is intended to fill what Milton sees as a gap in the market. “PepperPink allows retailers to expand their ranges focusing on gold jewellery rather than silver and beads,” he says.
The Nitro watch comes in either a steel or a heavy gunmetal case, and is intended as a ‘heavy, imposing’ timepiece. At the 12 o’clock marker, an individual hand keeps track to 1/20th of a second, and there is a chronograph at 6 o'clock.
Danish brand La Chance is a relatively new brand in the UK, having started here in early 2009 after making inroads elsewhere in the world. The latest autumn/winter pieces from the company mark something of a departure from the company's core ‘bead’ product range, including more unusual pieces like this lucky charm bracelet (pictured).
Fuchsia Daze, the autumn/winter collection from designer Karen Morrison, features pieces made from black onyx, fuchsia dyed quartz, garnets, cream and black Swarovski pearls and white freshwater pearls mixed with silver chains. The collection includes a chunky statement necklace and more wearable everyday pieces. Retail prices from £48 to £220.
Where is everyone?
Loughborough each September, is another excellent and informative event: over three days you can attend lectures and workshops hosted by some of the industry’s longeststanding and most knowledgeable experts. In both cases, in other words, there’s a huge amount that you can learn, a huge number of interesting people you can meet and a whole lot of valuable tips you can pick up if you’re prepared to put in, at most, four days of your professional time. However, with attendance numbers at both the Loughborough and the Gem-A conference averaging in the low hundreds, and collective membership of the two hosting organisations in their thousands, wouldn’t you expect attendance to be much higher? Know it all?
Thousands of people in the UK make a living from the retail jewellery and associated trades; these are rapidly modernising industries that require all staff to continually update and improve their skills and knowledge. So why, asks a bemused Kerry Gregory, does she keep seeing the same faces at industry events? n the jewellery industry, there are hundreds of independent retail jewellery firms and multiple retail stores, with thousands of people working in them. Why is it, then, that it is always the same few hundred people who attend conferences, seminars, summits and industry functions and education events each year? In order to keep myself up to date with current issues in the industry, I not only read publications such as The Jeweller and Gems & Gemmology, along with other specialist international jewellery magazines, I also subscribe to email forums specific to the industry, such as the NAG’s IRV forum and Gem-A’s gemmology-based Mail-talk (along with several others). And, crucially, I attend as many conferences, seminars and meetings as is financially and logistically possible.
forum’ situations but then I noticed the same names cropping up once again on lists of delegates at conferences I was attending, and in the letters columns of the magazines I was reading. It was then that the penny dropped: the reason it appeared to be the same group of people taking part in all the discussions, going to all the seminars and generally doing all the ‘taking part’ is because it actually is all the same people bothering to engage with the industry, year after year, with the rest of the retail jewellery trade curiously notable by its absence. I’ll give you a couple of examples. The Gem-A conference held annually in October is a key event, that attracts delegates from all over the world. Meanwhile, the annual NAG IRV Institute of Registered Valuer’s conference (formerly the NAG RV conference), held in
This leads me to the heart of my question: how and where are all the rest of the retailers and valuer’s learning new things? Are we to assume they already know everything and don’t need further education and training, or is it simply that they don’t have the time or the money to attend? Or – oh alright, I’ll say it – is it simply that they don’t care? I can safely assume it is not that they know everything. In my store we carry out trade repairs for other retailers, and I frequently see wrongly-described items, and repair instructions that make no sense or are practically impossible to decipher. I also frequently have solitaire rings sent to me from other retailers with shanks clearly stamped CZ, bearing the question, “Is this a diamond?”. As I say, I can safely assume they don’t know everything. Time is money? If it’s because they feel they don’t have the time or the money, this is probably due to the fact that they spend a lot of their time and money fixing the mistakes that their untrained or uninformed staff make. Generally the mistakes that happen in the day-to-day running of your business are silly mistakes that could easily have been avoided, such as mis-describing an item during a repair or sale. How easy is it for a member of staff to see a white stone and assume it’s a diamond – then when the customer comes to collect their ‘diamond’ ring, they find the
All in the names It was on the email forums that I first noticed the issue I’m talking about: it was the same people’s names coming up time and time again. Initially, I assumed this was because the majority of people didn’t feel confident enough to voice their opinions in these ‘open
38 The Jeweller October 2009
We carry out trade repairs for other retailers, and I frequently see wrongly-described items, and repair instructions that make no sense. I can safely assume, then, that they don’t know everything.
feature stone is now a CZ? Generally customers understand that mistakes happen, and it causes no more problems than a red face. However, it only takes one customer to complain that you have swapped their genuine stone for a ‘fake’ one for it to cost you hundreds if not thousands of pounds, not to mention the loss of good will and reputation. Surely, when you look at it that way, sending your staff on a one day course on identifying diamonds, at an average cost of only £300, is an absolute bargain!
Training and networking events like those run by the Gem A and the NAG (pictured) are hugely professionally valuable, educational and, yes, fun for those who attend each year. But why don’t more jewellers sign up?
Careless If it’s because they don’t care, we needn’t worry about them. To be blunt, they are no more than shopkeepers: they’re not really jewellers in the real sense of possessing the unique and specific expertise of a good jeweller, so we shouldn’t count them on our statistics. In the present market, they probably won’t be here in a few years anyway. Customers are more demanding of the jeweller now than ever before, in terms of service, product and professionalism. They have so many ways to compare products and prices, that we as retail jewellers have to lead the way in terms of our knowledge and our service. Giving our customers access to our expertise is the only way that we can ensure that we get their business. Why would anyone bother to drive into town (paying, in most places, extortionate parking fees to do so) in order to buy out-of-date products from someone who doesn’t know what they’re selling, and quite frankly doesn’t care? Because don’t forget, their alternative is to sit in the comfort of their own home and be seduced by jewellery being sold by a beautiful blonde girl, who educates them about gemstones, while telling them what a unique piece they are buying (and at a such a superb price), direct from their television… Kerry Gregory is manager of Christopher George jewellers in Cardiff.
The Voice of the Industry 39
future? Greg Valerio: Thank you for agreeing to talk to me. Would you introduce yourself and explain what you do? Sonya Maldar: I am the policy analyst for CAFOD, the official development agency for the Catholic Church in England and Wales. What CAFOD does is work with partners in developing countries by providing long-term development assistance, as well as emergency relief in any humanitarian crisis and we campaign and lobby to tackle some of the root causes of poverty throughout our world. GV: That all sounds like fantastic work, but why would a jeweller be talking to a development agency? SM: In 2006 CAFOD launched the Unearth Justice campaign, because we had found that
40 The Jeweller October 2009
a number of the partners we work with in Asia, Africa and Latin America were suffering from some of the harmful consequences of gold mining. The idea behind the campaign was to highlight these problems and the negative impact of the mining industry on communities and the environment. We also
gold mining. You will be aware of the statistic that the creation of one gold ring produces 18 tonnes of waste. In addition to that stark statistic, we’ve also seen people forced from their homes to make way for gold mines. We believe things need to change in the industry to stop these negative things from occuring.
“When we first started, most people did not know what was going on in gold mining. We are trying to get information out into the public domain.” wanted to influence the policy and practice of the industry, so that the poor are benefiting rather than suffering from gold mining. We know that 70 per cent of new gold comes from developing countries and in our work we’ve seen serious cases of pollution by
GV: So why does your campaign target retail jewellers? A lot of what you have described relates to the extractive side of the industry. Why hit the jewellers, who are not mining companies
All images courtesy of Richard Wainwright/CAFOD unless otherwise indicated
ethicaljeweller sort of way. That’s not how CAFOD works. We want constructive engagement with the industry, so we raise awareness with jewellers, asking them to publicly endorse the ‘12 Golden Rules’ and trying to support jewellers who genuinely want to end harmful practices in gold mining and to strengthen their voice within the industry. There are lots of players in this industry and we think the stronger the jewellers can be the more chance we have of influencing the industry as whole.
Greg Valerio talks to CAFOD’s Sonya Maldar about her organisation’s campaign to raise awareness of ‘dirty’ gold, and asks what she thinks retail jewellers can do to change the way the mining industry works.
GV: Do you really think that independent jewellers hold that much influence? Are they going to be able to help change how a mining company works in central Africa, for example? SM: I do not think it will be an easy thing to do, and I think that many of the jewellers believe they are just one small part of this huge industry. So we are supporting them in making their voice heard and also encouraging them to take collective action on where they buy their gold. I think this is the root of the problem, as the biggest difficulty we face is the lack of transparency within the gold supply chain. GV: I know CAFOD is a big supporter of the No Dirty Gold campaign. A current headline there declares, ‘Leading UK jewellers say no to dirty gold from Alaskan Mine’, a story concerning the Pebble Mine, which has been proposed by Anglo-American in Alaska’s Bristol Bay area. The problem is that Anglo-American won’t
care about the jewellers’ position as they know there is no transparency in the supply chain. The question is, if there is no physical traceability in the supply chain, what guarantees do I have as a jeweller that the gold in my jewellery has not come from the Pebble Mine? SM: I agree that that is one of our biggest challenges. Although CAFOD has not been involved in the Bristol Bay campaign specifically, you are right to suggest that that is the challenge and the obstacle that we face: jewellers do not know where their gold is coming from, and therefore the consumer does not know either. As a consumer I do not want to think that the ring or jewellery that I am buying has caused harm to people or the environment, so the traceability issue is absolutely key. And it is the responsibility of the industry as a whole. We do not have all the answers here, but we do need the industry to come together to begin to answer these very real questions. GV: Do you think it is doing that? Is the industry responding to the challenge? SM: Well, I think there are some initiatives out there, but at the moment I would say we have yet to see the results of those initiatives. The good news is that we know that traceability is achievable through the initiative being developed by the ARM and the Fair Trade Foundation, which offers traceability from the mine to the shop that will then give consumers, jewellers and retailers a real choice. And it will also directly improve the lives of the small-scale miners who are
but, mostly, little guys just trying to make a living? SM: Firstly, our objective is to try to raise awareness of these problems. When we first started, most people did not know what was going on in gold mining. We are trying to get information out into the public domain. Also, in the countries where we work we are supporting the communities affected by gold mining, empowering them in dialogue with mining companies and helping in their lobby work. We are also talking to industry and government. When I say industry, we mean the mining side as well as the jewellery industry. So what we have been doing with the retailers is raising awareness. When we started the campaign, not many of the mainstream jewellers were aware of the issues surrounding gold mining. So we are not targeting jewellers in an expose campaign
The Voice of the Industry 41
ethicaljeweller digging the gold. But we also have to look at the impact of the large-scale mining industry, and that is where I see there is a lot of room for improvement on the traceability issue. GV: How are you finding the large-scale miners responding to the issue of traceability? Are they open, are they closed - do they even see it as an issue? SM: You will have heard of the RJC, which has been set up to promote responsible practice across the supply chain. It is an industry body which, at the moment, is not looking at this issue of traceability. That is one of the concerns we have with the work that they are doing. GV: So why do you think this is? If the issue of physical traceability is so important, why are they not doing anything about it? When you ask them, what do they say? SM: We are told that [the lack of action] is down to ‘anti-trust issues’, but we cannot really understand why, as the problem has already been surmountable in the case of Fair Trade gold. It is in the interests of everyone to have a ‘chain of custody’ system on the gold, to ensure and guarantee that the gold you are buying is not harming communities or the environment. It is in the interests of the industry to make this work – but maybe that’s a question you could put to them… GV: Very good, I will, I promise. Are you as CAFOD effectively calling for a Kimberley Process in gold as we have seen in diamonds? The Kimberley
Unearth Justice vigil in front of BHP Billiton's AGM in London, calling on the company to stop keeping communities in Macambol, Philippines, in the dark about a proposed new mine. Hannah Guest, Maria Elena Arana and Umi Issaji with a photo placard of a member of the affected Macambol community. Photo courtesy of Adrian White/CAFOD.
Process is a system that offers some form of physical traceability in diamonds up to a point. It’s not perfect, but it’s a start. Is that something that you are looking for? SM: Well, the thing we are looking for is a system in the gold industry that ensures that the standards used by the industry actually meet the Golden Rules, as these are the principles that outline what responsible gold mining looks like. So we think this is the absolute minimum that should be adopted. GV: But do the Golden Rules insist on this physical traceability? SM: What we would say is that there needs to be that traceability, and then the whole system needs to be certified by a third party to ensure an independent guarantee. These
are the key issues to us. But also these things need to be negotiated by a multi-stakeholder group, which is different to what the RJC are doing. The RJC is an industry body, which means there is not a seat at the table for civil society groups like NGOs, trade unions and communities affected by mining. Inevitably, then, people will question the credibility of the standards that they produce. To have the best possible standards, you need to have the benefits of all voices. GV: From where I sit, that’s one of the problems with a lot of the campaigning that is going on. It is just so complicated for a jeweller in the UK or US – a high street ‘mom & pop’ shop, facing a global recession – to access the debate. These people make up the majority of the trade. Multi-stakeholder processes, physical traceability in gold, Responsible Jewellery Council, big mining companies and their environmental impact: it’s just emotionally exhausting and completely impossible to access. How do you make it simple? SM: I think there are two things. You need the industry leaders and the big companies to drive it forward from their side, thereby creating a ripple effect throughout the rest of the industry. You also need the smaller initiatives, such as is happening with Fair Trade, as they are a way for smaller jewellers to access gold that meets the ethical criteria. It’s a combination of approaches that will need to happen.
42 The Jeweller October 2009
GV: Moving on, lots of the companies that CAFOD and the No Dirty Gold campaign talk about are major stock-listed companies. Since the biggest accountability that a listed company has is to its shareholders, are you doing anything in that area? For example, are you concerned with the investments made by pension funds? SM: Certainly we are raising awareness on financial transparency. You may of heard of the ‘Publish What You Pay’ coalition, of which we are a member. It looks at publishing what is paid to governments by extractive industries, in order to stop corruption. One of the calls of that campaign is for the mandatory disclosure of payments by the extractives companies to governments. One of the ways this could work would be if the stock market – say, the London Exchange – required all listed companies to disclose their payments to overseas governments to improve transparency and stop corruption. GV: For me, the disconnect is a big problem. Most of what we have discussed concerns big gold mining companies, yet most of this gold ends up with the jeweller, who is hardly ever mentioned. In fact, jewellers are not even in the picture. SM: I think that the jewellery industry should be represented in these discussions, and that’s where some of the trade associations should come into play. Jewellers should be putting pressure on their trade associations to ensure they are being represented in these debates. This is why they exist: to advance the jewellers’ interests in these forums.
GV: In your opinion, who are the good guys and who are the bad guys? SM: I don’t think it is as simple as that! Basically, there are those companies that are committed to a multi-stakeholder process and those that are not. The ones who are in the IRMA process are Rio Tinto, Newmont
“I do not want to think that my jewellery has caused harm, so the traceability issue is absolutely key. And it is the responsibility of the industry as a whole.” GV: So what do you think success looks like for you? SM: Success for us would be if poor communities that live next to gold mines are actually benefiting from the mine being there. This would mean that the mine works to the highest social and environmental standards: such as no pollution of their water, free access to their land, nobody being thrown out of their homes. These are the real tangible benefits of this work for us, and the reason why we are doing it.
and Anglo American. Their commitment to work with us is very encouraging, but there is still a long, long way to go. It’s a long and complicated process and we will see over time whether we are able to make progress. There is no easy answer to this. GV: Is IRMA only focusing on large scale mining? Small-scale miners make up the majority of miners around the world. SM: As I have said, we are supportive of what
is happening in the Fair Trade movement. If you are talking about good guys and bad guys, then the work that ARM is doing with small-scale mining is really, really interesting; it offers a real alternative that will ensure traceability, and CAFOD is very supportive of that process. I emphasise that the voluntary initiatives like IRMA and RJC are not going to be sufficient in and of themselves, so we need governments to get involved as well. I Sonya Maldar is the extractive industries policy officer for CAFOD. Greg Valerio is a Fair Trade jewellery campaigner and founder of the jewellery company CRED. For more information on the issues raised in this interview, visit: CAFOD – www.cafod.org.uk/unearthjustice No Dirty Gold – www.nodirtygold.org RJC – www.responsiblejewellery.com IRMA – www.responsiblemining.net ARM – www.communitymining.org Fair Trade – www.fairtrade.net/setting_the _standards.html Publish What You Pay – www.publishwhatyoupay.org World Gold Council – www.gold.org
The Voice of the Industry 43
taking stock at Christmas Insurance is probably the last thing on your mind as you start gearing up for the busy Christmas period, but, as Neil McFarlane points out, it’s vital to ensure your policy matches up with your stock during the coming months. n the lead up to the Christmas period, one of your busiest times of the year, it’s time to start thinking about any new product lines and additional stock you will be carrying. When deciding on these, you probably don’t want to think about insurance, but it is important to keep your insurers aware of any stock changes to ensure you are covered by your existing policy. Traditionally, Christmas is one of your busiest times of the year and a period when stock will be increased. Double checking your insurance policies terms and conditions at this time is important. You may need to adjust your insurance to cover the higher stock levels you’re planning for the seasonal buying period, and you will need to notify your insurers of any changes to ensure adequate cover is in place. Most retail jewellers’ block insurance polices include, as standard, a stock ’seasonal increase’ provision which provides cover for a fixed increase in your stock value at set periods during the policy year. For many businesses, this standard provision may be
are adequate for the values on display; this would apply both during the day and at night. Also, if you feel that you need to leave more of your higher value stock out of your safe outside of business hours, whether in the window or elsewhere, then please check that your existing ’out of safe’ limit is adequate. It is important to remember that, should you not inform your insurers of changes to your business activities, it could enable them to decline or at best reduce a claim presented to them. Clearly the level of your stock cover, and the complexity as to how this is insured as part of your insurance programme, will vary from business to business. This is why it is crucial that your exact requirements are
sufficient; however, it is important to check both the level of increase and the periods involved. For some businesses it is not just the lead up to Christmas where an increase may be required. If the standard cover is not sufficient, seek the advice of your insurance broker. Most jewellers block policies will include an option to change both the level of increase and the periods involved. It is also important to let your insurer know if you change the type of stock you carry. In the eyes of the insurer, your newly stocked items may be considered to be of a greater risk than the items you traditionally stock. These risks can include anything from items that pose a greater fire hazard to something that increases the attractiveness of your premises to a burglar. In certain cases, your insurers may want to charge an additional premium or require extra precautions to be carried out before agreeing to provide cover. If, for example, you plan to stock higher values of jewellery, particularly in your main display windows, you may need to ensure your policy window display limits understood by your broker and insurer to ensure there are no gaps in your cover. If your stock levels increase by a small amount each year in the run up to Christmas, then the standard set percentage seasonal increase should be adequate. However, if your stock levels vary more widely, this would have to be built into your policy individually. Using a professional insurance broker who takes the time to understand your business is an important part of this process. Neil MacFarlane is sales director at TH March which has offices in London, Birmingham, Manchester, Dublin, Glasgow, Sevenoaks and Yelverton near Plymouth.
44 The Jeweller October 2009
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The Voice of the Industry 45
S E C O N D H A N D
jeweller in association with
Fellows & Sons
Ancient Adornment The practice of making and wearing jewellery is one of the oldest known forms of adornment, with ancient civilisations around the world known to have produced unique pieces of body decoration. The Jeweller explores what is known of Predynastic Egyptian jewellery lovers.
This diadem – a type of ornamental crown – is composed of small chips of turquoise, garnet, gold and malachite. The beads are arranged in ten sections. Five sections consist of a single string of stone beads and chips and these sections alternate with four sections consisting of four strings threaded entirely with minute gold beads. There is an extra section of garnet beads at each end of the diadem, and the gold beads are made from very narrow strips of metal turned up into rings, a few of which are soldered. Apart from the uneven chips of stone, the piece contains turquoise cylindrical disc beads, garnet cylindrical, truncated convex bicone and barrel beads and malachite cylindrical disc beads. This piece was excavated from a grave at Abydos and is dated circa 3200BC, during the Naqada II period.
Fellows & Sons e s t a b l i s h e d
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ne of the most fascinating things about the human race is, in my view, not the diversity of different cultures, tribes and societies but, conversely, how similar we all are. Despite the fact that people tend to prefer to differentiate themselves according to those things that are ‘unique’ about their tribal group – whether that be devotion to a particular god, or lifelong preference for a football team – we are, and have always been, fundamentally more alike as a human race than we are different.
Connect with the past People are bound not just across geographical distance by the things they have in common, but by time as well; it is this fact that makes sociological history so fascinating. Jewellery wearing (or, more broadly if you like, the love of adornment) has always been fascinating to me specifically because of this. Where I like to wear pretty shiny earrings and necklaces, so too did women thousands of years ago. In almost every other aspect of our lives – if we’re talking about a comparison of material objects – my life and that of a female of my age in 3200BC are fundamentally different. That much is obvious. But if we’re talking about the vanity of wanting to look nice, of wanting to wear delicate, pretty things as a means of feeling more attractive, wealthier and more sophisticated, well, there’s virtually nothing to separate the womenfolk of ancient Egypt and the modern woman buying up Bond Street. I suppose that’s why antique jewellery is so fascinating: it isn’t just that periods of the past have offered up beautiful design, stunning gemstones and awesome displays of opulence (although the history of the jewellery industry can demonstrate all of the above in abundance). It is that a piece of jewellery – a well-worn necklace, say, or a simple bangle – enables us, through an object, to ‘connect’ so much more closely with peoples of the past than many other things. The human emotions and needs that were the driving force behind its production all that time ago are exactly the same as the desires fuelling jewellerymaking today. The Predynastic period Among the early societies that produced jewellery – and I know of few that didn’t – the early Egyptian society is particularly well known for its love of body adornment. There are several strands to the early
Secondhand Jewellery and Watches – Thurs 22nd October, Thurs 5th and Thurs 19th November Antique & Modern Jewellery – Thurs 15th October and Thurs 26th November
secondhandjeweller Egyptian timeline. The Predynastic period refers, really, to the first inhabitants of Egypt who lived in settlements, moving on from the previous primitive nomadic tribes. Finds that archeologists have made from settlements and cemeteries suggest that the north and south of the country were culturally distinct. The south was administered from the city of Hierakonpolis, while the capital of the north was Buto. The largest of the early cultures was the northern Badari, known for its ceramics, stone tool-making and its use of copper. In the north of Egypt, the Badari was followed by Amratian and Gerzian cultures. The Naqada culture in the south began to expand along the Nile by 4000BC. As early as the Naqada I period, people were importing obsidian from Ethiopa to make blades and other objects. Within around 1000 years, the Naqada culture developed from a handful of small farming communities to a powerful civilization. Broadly, the late Neolithic period, which is known as the Predynastic period, started in the sixth millennium BC, and ended with the unification of Egypt – the start of the historical period in Egypt. This long period of time is traditionally divided into two subgroups, called the Naqada I period (4000-3500 BC) and the Naqada II period (3500-3100 BC). Naqada was itself a significant southern town in Egypt, and much of what we know about the jewellery making techniques and
There’s virtually nothing to separate the womenfolk of ancient Egypt and the modern woman buying up Bond Street. materials comes from excavations made in this area. The Naqada culture made quite an impressive array of material goods, reflective of its increasing power and wealth. These included jewellery made with ivory, lapis and other stones. During the last predynastic phase, it was the Naqada culture that began using the system of written symbols that would eventually become a full system of hieroglyphs, the ancient Egyptian language.
This is a necklace made from nenta and ancilliaria shells that have been filed. Like the ivory bracelets, this was found at Mustagidda, taken from the undisturbed gravesite of a child from the Badarian period. The necklace is made from 65 small ‘ancilliaria’ shells, slightly filed at both ends, and four small ‘nerita’ shells.
Grave discoveries Much of what we know about jewellery and about the society of the time as whole comes from the cemeteries that were discovered around the perimeters of the early settlements. People were buried in very distinct and ritualistic ways, and their jewellery was buried with them: burying people’s belongings with them, then as now in many societies, was common in Egypt as it was believed that the dead needed these goods to help them to the life beyond. The quality and value of those items that went with them into the grave were a mark of the deceased person’s standing in society and their perceived success and importance. The burials of the early Predynastic period in Egypt were simple pit graves, in which the dead person was laid in a crouched position and the bodies naturally dried by the hot sand. In later burials, the bodies were sometimes wrapped in mats, and sometimes the person’s head and limbs were bound
with cloth. The objects placed in burials, such as their items of jewellery, and other important household pieces such as slate palettes and pots provide us with the main sources of information about this time. ¯
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secondhandjeweller Offerings At this time the Egyptian diet was sustained not by hunting as previously but made up of domesticated cattle, sheep, pigs and goats, as well as cereal grains such as wheat and barley. Artifacts of stone were beginning to be supplemented by those of metal, and the crafts of basketry, pottery, weaving, and the tanning of animal hides were becoming commonplace within daily life. In the graves that have been uncovered, then, offerings of cereals, dried meat, and fruit have been found to be included. Hunting and farming tools and other highly practical items for getting by were also commonly placed in graves. One can assume that the Egyptian people thought that the next life was going to be quite similar to the one that they were leaving if they were equipping them to carry on as they had left off. The way in which the dead were positioned also appears to have been ritualised; they were lain in the foetal position, facing west according to the position of the setting sun, surrounded by their possessions. Jewellery, typically, was placed at the head. Early design
A number of short cylindrical beads: of generally uniform diameter in green glazed steatite, two shell disc beads, many cornelian barrel and disc beads of twice the diameter and a cornelian drop pendant.
Burial items The burial traditions for which the Egyptians became known – the very beginnings of the ‘life after death’ belief that is now central to several mainstream religions – were first introduced during the Egyptian Predynastic period. Before this, people tended to bury their dead wherever happened to be most convenient (in the case of children this was commonly underneath the floor of the home). This was a practice in which there was no room for necrophobia, so once a fear of the dead began to creep in, as it is now
48 The Jeweller October 2009
In terms of the actual jewellery itself, some of the pieces that have been found from this time are surprisingly sophisticated, usually quite delicate and often amazingly wellpreserved. From the earliest part of the period, usable objects – such as furniture, tools and pottery – were made with an eye to aesthetic value as well as to functionality. Pottery, for example, was often painted and decorated. The ‘primitive’ Predynastic period is known especially for its jewellery, its black-topped clay pots and vases, vanity items made from bone and ivory, and even tableware and purely decorative figurines. This level of decorative consciousness seems all the more remarkable when you consider that virtually the rest of the world was still living in absolute primitivism.
supposed it might have done, people began to designate cemetery ground further away and began to bury folks with greater ‘provisions’ for their next life, or rather, for their journey to it. Pottery was commonly included in the graves, along with jewellery and other luxuries that were meant to make the journey more comfortable and enjoyable – in later years, some of the graves of Pharoahs were found to include full chariots, taking the notion of the after-death ‘journey’ through to its obvious conclusion; what better way is there to ease a long trip?
All images in this article are used courtesy of the British Museum
This photograph is of an ivory bangle, slightly oval in shape, which has been broken into many pieces. The outer face is convex, the inner is flat except for the breaks. Alongside it is a second ivory bangle with a knob at the top, which has been carved out of the same piece of ivory as the hoop of the bangle. Its top has been rounded and the neck has been carved away. The outer face of the bangle is bevelled, the inner face is straight, and the whole bangle has split into many fragments which have been mended. These come from the Badarian period of predynastic ancient Egypt, and were excavated from a grave at Mustagidda.
The ‘Old Predynastic’, or ‘Amratian’ period – otherwise known simply as Naqada I – began in 4500BC and at this time, it can be seen from excavated items that decorative design ideas progressed still further, with geometric patterns giving way to painted or carved animal motifs. Shapes – namely, in pottery and decorative items as well as in jewellery – became more varied, and even figurines of female dancers appear to have become very popular. (Again, this brings me back to my original point: how extraordinary to think that clay figurines were as popular with ancient Egyptians as they are with my nan, who keeps a fine collection of pottery ballet dancers on her own sideboard…). North to South The period from 4000BC is called the Gerzean period, or Naqada II. Amratian and Gerzean cultures are thought to have been
very different to one another. During this period the people of the north began to exert a stronger influence over those of the south, which led to a mixing of culture and the development of the late Predynastic period, Naqada III. In terms of decorative and luxury items, the most notable feature of the Gerzean period is that items were developed very much more along decorative lines, with pottery particularly bearing geometric patterns and much more highly realistic depictions of living creatures, including people. At this time the first depictions of religious icons – and the gods with which we most associate the ancient Egyptians – appear. Gerzean culture, in short, is not thought to have been much less developed or complex than the Pharaonic periods that followed. Social evolution It has long been believed that the transition
from the Predynastic to the Dynastic eras was a series of revolutions and warfare, themselves brought on by the highly significant discovery of metallurgy, writing and new social structures, but it is most likely that there was not one significant event or series of events that caused further shift in Egyptian society; rather it was just a slow process of technological development and social evolution. But what of the jewellery? Well, the tools of manufacture may have become more sophisticated, new metals and new gemstones may have been discovered, and tastes may have come round full circle several thousand times since the pieces of jewellery pictured here were first worn and enjoyed by long-dead Egyptian women. Practically, lots has changed. But the pride, the vanity and the emotion that inspired the creation of this early jewellery? Very little, in I that respect, is different at all…
The Voice of the Industry 49
N ’ S
point Good is the enemy of excellence f you were keeping a keen eye on the progress of the EDF, you may have heard about the first EDF Congress, which was held in Oxford at the end of June this year. The event took place at the Saïd Business School, a centre of learning with ‘a reputation for innovative business education’, which was also a reminder of the excesses of the construction industry’s ‘concrete mania’ of the 1990s. The architect of this monster, which was built in 1996, was either in the back pocket of the cement boys, or was like the tailors of the Emperor’s New Clothes; either way nobody was feeling brave enough at the time to say your design is plain ugly. I couldn’t help feeling the person who conceived the Scottish Parliament had possibly been indoctrinated here. I was in my usual positive mood. One of the more sceptical EDFers, who was now a convert, gave his positive reasons for being at the Congress from the front of the room, finishing with the words, “Rock on: let’s have it”. We were in for a good day! First up was Colin Wallace. A more experienced transformer of humans – from the miserable and incompetent to the happy and motivated – would be hard to find. This chap was full of good stuff: “customers buy solutions to problems and good feelings”; “It costs five times as much to find a new client as it costs to keep them”; “Before you can put yourself in your customer’s shoes, first you have to take off your own”. He was talking the language that I felt most of us speak, but which very few of the sales
50 The Jeweller October 2009
people I come across, understand. He talked about team work and, memorably, about how “good is the enemy of excellence”. I am sure we all have more to learn about consideration for others, about giving more than you take and about the anticipation of each others requirements, as these are the things that make the difference between a collection of colleagues and a team.
Most gangsters actually lack the attention to detail that we, if we were to carry out a crime, would consider essential. Next up the Police and, in the absence of a guitar, Chris Ward talked to us about the increasingly frequent use of the criminal technique ‘Tiger Kidnapping’, in which an organised group select a target, usually a middle management employee, and puts them under surveillance. They then kidnap members of the victim’s family in order to force them to carry out thefts from their employers. This criminal technique is predominantly used among drug traffickers. However, the Continent has seen an increase in its use and in America it is an epidemic. Rarely does anybody get hurt, but suggesting that your employees vary their route to
and from work and avoid discussing their day job with interested strangers out of hours is to be encouraged. It may be worth checking your insurance policy, as theft by a member of staff – even if they are under duress – is not always covered. It does appears that most crimes of this nature are carried out without anybody actually being kidnapped, but since the victims themselves inevitably fear the worst and carry out the crime. Chris Ward finished on a high, explaining that most gangsters actually lack the attention to detail that we, if we were to carry out a crime, would consider essential. For example, during the Securitas robbery at Heathrow, £52 million was taken by the depot cleaners, who worked within the organisation, were paid off £3,000 each with money from the heist. To make matters worse, they all promptly paid it into bank accounts locally! All hell broke loose after lunch, when Jeff Caplan of StoreCheckers, a mystery shopping company, woke us all up at the start of the afternoon session by stating that his company had visited 15 of our stores. We had considered this possibility as part of the EDF but the idea had not come to fruition until this moment. Weren’t we supposed to know in advance when they were coming, so we could warn everybody, throw out the clients who made the place look untidy (and the staff for that matter) and have champagne available on ice? I had considered that my staff would not appreciate being mystery shopped, but here it had happened without me knowing and I was suddenly very excited to know how my ‘baby’ had faired in the glare of these shopping specialists. Our friend with the great attitude came out on top: full marks to him. We were not in the top three… blast! It was only two weeks later that I found out we had come in at number four. I congratulated my manager Carl who had served them. It was a great result and, had he told them his name before they left, he may have been higher still. All in all, it was a great day – supportive, informative, encouraging and inspiring. Now with some forty stores in the mix, we have reliable benchmarks to help us along. The day was over but the future is there to be embraced. If you fancy coming along to an EDF trial day, get in touch with the NAG. Rock on: let’s have you!
None of us thought that an article concerning fake valuations would ever need to be written, but the sad fact, says Adrian Smith, is that fraudsters are operating in our business. So, how do you stop yours being faked? nfortunately for our industry, there are fraudsters out there that are prepared to play on the respect that the public hold for our valuation reports to illegally line their own pockets. Lest you be tempted to dismiss this as the kind of one-off petty crime – the type carried out by a spottyfaced youth in his bedroom, busy trying to flog Auntie Minnie’s ring on eBay – think again. The most serious case I was involved with saw the crooks net over £500,000, and nearly all of it profit! One consumer alone lost £65,000. In my own experience, there are four types of activity that can compromise a valuer’s reputation and cause the public or the insurance company to be duped. These, broadly, are: • the altering of content of a valuer’s original (legitimate) document. • the creation of a document purporting to have been produced by the valuer, but bearing little resemblance to an original. • a full counterfeit of the valuer’s report, or • the valuer’s name being used to support a fraudster’s objectives on a document or website. This article attempts to suggest ways in which you can prevent your reports being faked or altered and, if you are unlucky enough to be a victim, proposes methods by which your faked work can be detected. To put it bluntly, you need to be a little creative. If you are inclined to ‘go with the defaults’ and produce an unimaginative
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valuation document, you are, effectively, easy prey for the crooks. The nearer your reports are to a standard word processing document, and the more you use generic elements within it, the easier it will be to reproduce effectively. Why not try to ‘fake’ one of your own reports, using basic equipment and programs that most computer users have access to? You will be astounded at how easy it is and how quickly a reasonable likeness can be produced.
Your ‘fake-resistant’ report should carry a mixture of covert and overt security features that prevent duplication and alteration and also allow detection of criminal activity. By creating a report that presents challenges to a would-be forger, you will protect your good name from being defaced, help protect the (generally) very trusting public from being ripped off, cut down on insurance fraud and help maintain the public’s confidence in what we do. Your new ‘fake-resistant’ report should carry a mixture of covert and overt security features that prevent duplication and alteration and also allow detection of
criminal activity. Other features that cause problems for fakers using standard equipment and software should also be utilised. I will go through these features one-byone, but it is worth mentioning that all of the following suggestions are not necessarily individually effective; any fraudsters could easily overcome a single feature with only a modicum of skill with a word processor, image editor or OCR1. It is when they are presented en masse that these measures provide a useful deterrent. If you adopt a series of barriers for the fraudster to overcome, they can never be totally sure that they have identified all of your obstacles. Since my guess is that these crooks are inherently lazy, they will likely then move their attention to someone else’s reports that don’t require so much time and effort. Overt features The overt features have two functions: • to alert any would-be forger that you are aware that counterfeiting is a possibility and you are, therefore, ‘on to them’. • they provide features that can be confirmed by the client as being definitely present or absent. This is most useful when dealing with a query over the telephone, and you do not have the suspected report in front of you. These features include highly visible elements like IRV stickers, holograms, embossed seals, watermarks and text formatting, that have been clearly presented in order to confound a potential faker. Embossing Most office supply businesses can organise an embossing tool2 for you with a specially cut die to present your personalised information. They are very inexpensive; I think the one I have cost about £60 with the die. Embossing tools deter fakers because getting an identical one cut would take a forger around two weeks and would create an unwelcome paper trail as their order requirements would obviously be recorded. Holograms Avoid the generic products that are freely available (usually bearing the words QC-OK, CERTIFIED, APPROVED, PASSED and the like). Go for a blank hologram image that can be professionally over-printed with text and/or a logo peculiar to you. If finances allow, consider having your own hologram made with your personalisation embedded in the hologram.
By creating a report that presents challenges to a would-be forger, you help maintain the public’s confidence in what we do.
Watermarking A watermark that is created as you print the report is not really effective. It makes the report look untidy and is very easily reproduced. A better method is to have paper produced for you with a personalised watermark embedded in the paper. Images of the items used in the report should be watermarked. It is amazing how often I have come across my photographs on the internet: not always used to deceive but annoying none the less. Use a logo or cipher that you have built personally: don’t use text only or generic graphics, as they are too easy to reproduce. Place the watermark covering an important part of the item in the image. This prevents cropping of the image to remove the watermark. Ensure the watermark is semi-transparent so it is not too intrusive, and ensure any item part it may cover is still visible. Apply the watermark to the image, not to the document containing the image.
Text Formatting Try to incorporate some quirky text formatting somewhere on each page. Something that can be placed in the footer is ideal, since it doesn’t interfere with the main text and by default, will appear on every page in your report. For example: all my reports carry a twopart reference number, in text that is oriented at 90º to the standard text and is presented against a coloured background. This is not difficult to do, but since this type of formatting is not commonly used, the faker will have to figure out how you did it before he or she can proceed. Consider using some formatting that makes the text look like something else. For instance, in the two Declaration areas of my reports I have a panel with a barcode style background and the reference number over-printed using a now defunct font. It looks like it could be some sort of security
An obscure font against an odd background causes problems for forgers
feature that requires a barcode reader to decode; it looks like it could be a lot of things actually. The faker will not know the significance of its presence, so will not know how to handle it. It also confuses the hell out of an OCR – but more on that later. Covert features The single function of the covert security feature is to enable you to positively state whether you produced the report or not, no matter how meticulously the forger has done his job. This would obviously occur after the report has been presented to you for verification. It is important to include these features by default rather than relying on memory to incorporate them. I would suggest that these ideas are included in the base templates that you use to produce your reports. You must be able to make it so consistent that you could stand in court and swear till you are blue in the face that you did not produce that report Hidden Logo/Character Ideas for covert features include placing discreet printed marks in areas that are not normally seen when the report is bound; for instance, a very faint small logo, character or
The Voice of the Industry 53
Features to incorporate into your report include IRV stickers, holograms, embossed seals, watermarks and text formatting.
line placed at the extreme edge of the paper usually hidden by the spine (you will have to alter your print driver settings to achieve this). Flagged punctuation Try using what I call flagged punctuation. These are punctuation marks that are a very slightly different colour to the remainder of the text (e.g. dark grey as opposed to black). Under normal scrutiny, they go unnoticed. Closer examination would reveal the difference. Using punctuation in this way has added benefits in tricking the OCR. Ultra-violet ink Consider marking your document somewhere consistent with ultra-violet reacting ink. The UV pens used for marking your postcode on electrical equipment will work just fine. Every time you open a new ream of paper, draw three diagonal lines down the edge of the whole block of paper, thus taking two seconds to mark the whole ream. Then each sheet will have three dots of UV ink on its edge. If you load your paper in the printer the same way each time, a UV lamp will show if any or all of the sheets in a finished report have been replaced, since the diagonal lines will be broken by the replaced sheets or totally absent if you are not the source of the paper. Other measures to consider Confusing the OCR My guess is that the OCR is the most valuable tool to the counterfeiter. For those
54 The Jeweller October 2009
unfamiliar with the term, OCR software scans a printed document or digital file and identifies areas of text and reproduces it in the nearest available font in a selected file format (e.g. MS Word). This allows the user to edit the text and reprint. Any areas that cannot be identified as text are returned as images placed in the same position on the newly created document. Any steps that can be taken to confuse the OCR should be employed. For instance, the above suggestion of vertical text comes out as an image when using an OCR. OK, the fraudster will now have your vertical text, but they will not be able to edit it and you now have a reference to trace the source of the ‘leak’. The obscure font reference number placed on the barcode-style background serves exactly the same purpose. The tagged punctuation also serves us well here, as an OCR will reproduce the punctuation in black, if you have the original in a dark grey. So any similar document that is produced with black flagged punctuation must have been retyped from scratch, or put through an OCR. Photocopies would probably not be used to deceive but in keeping with the legal profession it is wise to sign the original in blue ink. PDFs Contrary to popular opinion, converting a document to PDF format is not secure. If, like me, you include a PDF format report for your client’s convenience, this can be a worry. An OCR can be used with a PDF document and there is now very cheap
software that will convert the PDF back to an editable word processor file (e.g. Word). By strategically placing a heavy watermark throughout the document after printing but prior to conversion to PDF, you can reduce the effectiveness of any attempt to revert the text back to editable form. The watermark text I use is AUTHORISED PDF COPY placed diagonally and repeatedly across each page, so the top right-hand corner lines up with the bottom left-hand corner of the preceding watermark, thus leaving no entire line of text unprotected. The watermark needs to be darker than normal, but I have found that a light grey fill on the text with a dark grey edge to the font elements confuses the OCR and the result is total gobbledegook. If you include a scan of your signature in the PDF, ensure that this is done in black so it cannot be confused with a blue original signature.
The single function of the covert security feature is to enable you to positively state whether you produced the report or not, no matter how meticulously the forger has done his job. CDs and DVDs If you additionally supply a data disc with your reports, be sure to set your disc burning software to close the session after the disc has been burnt. This prevents files being added or edited at a later date. Pre-sale documentation, certificates of authenticity and so on: Up until now, we have discussed preventing and detecting a full counterfeit of a report or the alteration of an original document. Little can be done to prevent production of a document that bears no resemblance to the genuine version. Of the two formats I have encountered, one was produced on a Microsoft Publisher template and the other was a pre-printed card certificate type document, over-printed with item details, value and photograph. Both indicated that I had produced the document and contained text and images/logo from my website. These documents would be immediately obvious to anyone in the trade as being wrong, with endless references to non-
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irvreview existent Diamond Grading Reports or lots of flowery, meaningless language and outrageous values. Even the public would suspect that something was not quite right. Internet Needless to say, the majority of the instances of a valuer’s name being used to support a con-merchant’s aims stem from the Internet. Documentation – typically a Valuation for Insurance or a Certificate of Authenticity – is usually offered, along with an inferior or fake item. The use of online software like Google Alerts is very useful to monitor the Internet for references to your name, business or website address. Once set up with creative use of search words and terms, you can immediately be notified when your search criteria appear online. Should someone decide to resell an item that came with documents bearing your name, they would usually refer to your name and the document to try and encourage a sale or higher bid, thus triggering a Google Alert. Similarly, if your name were under discussion (or attack) in a blog or forum, you would be instantly notified. I know all this sounds a little paranoid, but bad news travels very quickly on the Internet. A disgruntled consumer who thinks that you are somehow involved in a scam can make an awful lot of noise and, if left unchecked, this viral form of defamation can ruin your reputation in certain circles in no time. You need to be sure you get to hear about it first. I have had my name used for all sorts of things, from confirming that Moissonite jewellery is genuine diamond jewellery to providing an employment reference to someone working for an agency.
The IRV is in the process of having a unique embossing tool made bearing its membership logo, a prototype of which was demonstrated to attendees at this year's conference in Loughborough. Embossing on valuation documents acts as a significant deterrent to would be fakers.
‘diamond’ ring. This particular scam was large and ate vast swathes of my time as I tried to get to the bottom of it all, assist victims and generally deal with related phone calls that, at the height of the scam, were running at about ten a day. Oddly enough, the scam that took the least amount of my time was
To put it bluntly, you need to be a little creative. If you are inclined to produce an unimaginative valuation document, you are, effectively, easy prey for the crooks. Lost time and earnings I don’t think this sort of fraud is anything like as widespread, but it does happen. I think I have had more than my fair share of instances, probably because I am the most northerly independent valuer and the bulk of the scams originate in the south of England. The assumption is obviously that I am too far away to hear about it. Little did one fraudster know that he sold a good friend of mine a pair of ‘diamond’ earrings and one of my private clients a
56 The Jeweller October 2009
of the full counterfeit type. I only received one phone call – and that is very worrying. The lengths that the forger went to to exactly reproduce my report and its presentation took time. He or she would never have gone to those lengths for one report. Which begs the question: where are all the others? My guess is that they have gone through the system totally unnoticed. They are now ‘out there’, like a ticking time bomb. Most of my suggestions here cost little to implement, requiring just a little imagination
and some time. Specially made watermarked paper and bespoke holograms can be expensive and do add a certain polish to your reports but are by no means necessary to tighten up the security of your documents. In the course of making your reports more secure and making them seen to be more secure, you will not only be protecting yourself, the industry and the public from criminal activity, but also helping to raise the apparent integrity of your business I and documentation. Adrian Smith is a member of the Institute of Registered Valuers, based in Scotland, who has been in the jewellery trade since the mid-1970s. Notes: 1. Optical character recognition, usually abbreviated to OCR, is the mechanical or electronic translation of images of handwritten, typewritten or printed text into machine-editable text. 2. The Institute will be offering embossing machines incorporating the MIRV and FIRV logo stickers.
Photographs courtesy of the Guild of Valuers
The Voice of the Industry 57
NAG brings festive cheer to IJL with JET course relaunch hristmas gets earlier and earlier ever year and this year it came even earlier still, thanks to the NAG’s Christmas-themed relaunch of the Professional Jewellers’ Diploma at IJL. The Association's education and training chairman Mark Adlestone introduced the new look course, with a sherry and mince pie reception on the Association’s stand at the exhibition, which was bedecked with full Christmas tree and presents.
“Christmas is too late to be training your staff,” he explained. “If you want to make the most out of your staff at one of the busiest times for jewellers, then you really need to start training them now. A student who enrols on the first part of the Professional Jewellers’ Diploma today will be well on their way to completing JET 1 by this Christmas and could have passed in time for the sales.”
The updated course is available now to all students enrolling on the JET 1 and JET 2 parts of the Professional Jewellers’ Diploma and includes the latest information on palladium and legal issues as well as more information on new designers and new metals like Argentium silver. Surprisingly, the early festive start went down well with IJL visitors. “People really seemed to enjoy themselves drinking sherry and eating mince pies at the beginning of September,” said Victoria Wingate, the NAG's education and training manager. “Of course, all the decorations are just a bit of fun to get retailers really thinking about their training needs for the festive period. Now is the time to get your staff trained, because before you know it, Christmas will be upon us.” Mark Adlestone shared this sentiment, warning that there were only 108 shopping days left until Christmas, before wishing the assembled crowd a merry Christmas – although he hardly believed it himself, in September! With most financial forecasts now predicting a positive festive period, maybe Christmas cannot come quickly enough. For more information on the Professional Jewellers’ Diploma or any of the JET courses, go to www.jewellers-online.org or call 020 7613 4445 (option 1).
NAG celebrates outstanding exam success AG students, tutors and education department staff celebrated the end of another successful JET examination season, with more outstanding results. In May, 80 per cent of students passed the Professional Jewellers’ Diploma, while 61 per cent gained their Professional Jewellers’ Gemstone Diploma. However, it was the incredible 100 per cent pass rate of the JET Valuations course that has most people talking. “It is a fantastic result,” said Victoria Wingate,
58 The Jeweller October 2009
the NAG’s education and training manager. “The valuations exam is notoriously difficult, but is so important as it forms part of the
application process for the Institute of Registered Valuers.” Distance learning courses have long played an integral role at the NAG, and remain as vital as ever. “The first NAG exam was held in 1945, and we’ve been developing and evolving since then, so we know a thing or two about training,” added Wingate. “These courses will build staff confidence, develop their selling skills and product knowledge and ultimately it will put money in the till.”
Q&A: Antonia Profit JET 2 student Where do you work? Rubinstein Keightley in Uppingham, Rutland.
I love the strong colours of green and pink and also the shading of watermelon tourmaline.
Why did you do JET 2? As a follow on from JET 1 to complete my Professional Jewellers’ Diploma. I started JET to improve my knowledge of the jewellery trade and improve my customer service.
What’s the best thing you ever bought? An Art Nouveau garnet-set necklace. What is your top sales tip?
What’s your ambition? I would like to continue working in the jewellery sector and train to be a valuer. How did you organise your time to study? I am a part time member of staff and a mother of two small children, so all my study was in the evening and occasionally during the weekend when I could persuade my husband to look after the boys! What’s your favourite item to sell? I like selling any items set with tourmalines.
Know your stock and its location in the shop, that way you can immediately find items that are suitable to show your customer given their requirements. It shows you have knowledge and that you understood their needs, giving the customer confidence in you and your jewellery. What is the best thing about your job? I’m very lucky with my job as it is interesting and varied. We take in repairs and make commissions as we have our own workshop on site. We also sell jewellery and carry out
valuations. I like sourcing stones for commissions, but also I like taking in valuations as I love to see old pieces of jewellery; usually they have a story behind them. What is the best advice you have ever been given? Don’t keep jewellery for best. Wear it whenever you want and enjoy wearing it. My grandma said that to me and, as a child, she would let me go upstairs to her room and try on all her jewellery. She definitely started my passion for jewellery.
Antonia works for Rubinstein Keightley, 7 North Street East, Uppingham, Rutland, LE15 9QJ Tel: 01572 822405
Q&A: Michelle O’Halloran JET 2 student Where do you work?
including all the different coloured gemstones.
Tiffany & Co in the Royal Exchange, London Why did you do JET 2? I needed further education with fine jewellery. Now I have the confidence to sell anything…
How would you describe JET 2 in one word? Informative. How did you organise your time to study?
What is your tops sales tip? Treat the customer like a friend. Make them feel relaxed and comfortable by starting conversation using open style questions, so the customer cannot reply yes or no. Use: who, what, when, where, how and which? If any person from history could walk into your shop, who would it be?
Two weekends would be dedicated a month to plan assignments.
Audrey Hepburn, so I could experience her true sense of beauty, taste and sophistication. I would then really know what Breakfast at Tiffany’s meant!
What‘s your favourite item to sell? Why?
What was the best thing about JET 2?
Diamonds because of their fire; they can split white light up into all the colours of the spectrum. No other gemstone sparkles like a diamond and they never scratch, so they are easy to care for and stand the test of time.
Achieving A grades in all my assignments. Why should someone come to your shop? Because I work here and am always willing to help, no matter the price point.
Michelle works at Tiffany & Co, The Courtyard, Royal Exchange, London, EC3V 3LQ Tel: 0207 016 0573
Both Antonia and Michelle passed their JET 2 examinations and have been awarded the Professional Jewellers’ Diploma. They will receive their awards at a ceremony at Goldsmiths’ Hall in March.
The Voice of the Industry 59
For all enquiries please contact Inter City Group New Carvel Building, Warstock Road, Kings Heath, Birmingham B14 4RT phone: 0870 752 0880, e-mail: rebecca - willoughby@icw- watches.co.uk
The Flu and You Fergal Dowling looks at the impact that this year's swine flu outbreak has had – and is likely to have – on UK business productivity, and offers some tips on staying healthy in the face of the pandemic.
J E W E L L E R wine flu reached pandemic proportions in the summer. This meant that cases of the virus had been reported in a number of countries, rather than that the incidence in the UK was high. Expert opinion currently appears divided over the severity and number of cases we should anticipate for the autumn and winter seasons and the potential impact on the country and economy. Bosses should look to keep abreast of government thinking and follow its recommendations. Typical areas of concern will include: • Ensuring a safe means of working • Staff absence from the workplace. This could comprise employees who are ill themselves, those that are absent caring for ill dependents, those who are absent under false pretences and those who are sent home for their own wellbeing, and • Consequent staff/skills shortages.
Turning to the aforementioned likely areas of concern, the first is provision of a safe working environment. This could include providing sufficient soap or gel for handwashing and an effective means of disposal of paper towels and tissues. It may also mean adjusting working hours, so that employees are not obliged to travel during rush hours when the risk of contracting the virus rises. Bosses might also feel inclined to draw up a schedule, so that the facility to travel outside of the rush hours is shared across all staff to avoid allegations of discrimination or unfair treatment. The nature of some commercial activities may make remote working a sensible
proposition, whereby certain employees work from home, thus reducing the number of staff in the workplace who could potentially be exposed to swine flu. However, this may lead to issues concerning the funding of equipment should an employee neither have a home PC nor access to the office network. Whether or not to instigate remote working will need to be decided pragmatically by the employer, unless the government insists that all except essential, frontline staff should stay at home. Any time off for employees to care for dependents that have fallen ill would be taken as unpaid statutory leave under the ‘Dependency Leave’ provisions. Employers
Expert opinion appears divided over the expected severity of cases and the potential impact on the country and economy. Employers must take all reasonable and proportionate steps to ensure the health and safety of their workers. They must also make employees aware of the steps that they are taking. An employer’s ability to demonstrate that they have taken action could prove invaluable, should an employee launch legal proceedings.
The Voice of the Industry 61
may like their workers to take minimal time off in order to organise someone else to care for their children. However, this may prove challenging, as the carers themselves might be at risk of contracting swine flu and so refuse the task. Bosses therefore should not be too surprised if the employees have to care for dependents themselves. Current advice concerning employees who contract swine flu is that they should stay away from the workplace. Those that stayed at home would be entitled to Statutory Sick Pay plus any other remuneration in line with their contract of employment.
Recent research suggested that employees who contracted swine flu have been absent for an average of around four days. These employees would therefore have self-certificated, again leaving room for a small minority to falsely take time off. Where it proves necessary for employers to instruct fit employees to stay away from work in a bid to protect their health, it is likely to be because an employee has come into contact with someone who has swine flu outside of work or because a colleague has contracted the virus. Should an employee be well and available for work but instructed to not come into
Employers ought to ascertain those skills essential to keep the business going in the event of an outbreak of swine flu. This may seem straightforward, until one considers that doctors have advised people who think they have symptoms to keep away from surgeries and telephone the designated call centre or surgery. Such ‘remote diagnosis’ leaves scope for abuse, as an employee may claim he or she has been diagnosed with swine flu while, in fact, being totally healthy.
62 The Jeweller October 2009
the workplace it is known as a ‘medical suspension’. The employee is entitled to receive full pay until such time as he or she is recalled to the workplace. However, should the worker fall ill in the interim, Statutory Sick Pay applies from the date of diagnosis. Once an employee is advised by the GP that he or she is well enough to return to
work the employer may wish to conduct a ‘back to work interview’. This should include an assessment of whether the worker is able to pick up where he or she left off, or if lighter duties are more appropriate. The issue of skill shortages should be considered as a matter of high priority. Employers ought to ascertain those skills that are essential to keep the business going in the event of a serious outbreak of swine flu and, where necessary, provide additional training to counter shortfalls. This is particularly critical given that the country has been in the grip of a recession, so there is little likelihood of there being an unnecessary duplication of roles. I urge employers to review their policies and procedures relating to sickness and absence and business continuity now. That way, they have a better chance of ensuring that both their workers and the business can remain fighting fit in the event of a serious outbreak. Fergal Dowling is partner and head of employment law at the Birmingham offices of law firm Irwin Mitchell, one of the country’s largest law firms. For further information please contact Fergal on 0870 1500 100 or visit www.irwinmitchell.com
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word Jo Young takes a wry look at the weird, wonderful and downright ridiculous happenings in the jewellery retailing world.
Beyond the Pale o, for those of you who don’t know (and presumably you’ve been living in a cave on a remote Scottish island for the past several months), Michael Jackson is dead. The ‘King of Pop’ finally moonwalked into the great beyond at the shockingly early age of 50, apparently as a result of a drugs overdose. Jackson’s life story is a colourful one, by anyone’s reckoning. He suffered an apparently abusive childhood, in which he first found global fame with his four siblings as part of the Jackson Five, after which followed one of the most successful solo musical careers in history. The pinnacle of his career was in the 1980s – 1982’s Thriller is apparently still the best-selling album of all time – when school playgrounds the world over were awash with skinny children desperately
66 The Jeweller October 2009
Somewhat inevitably, Jackson’s death has triggered a manic flurry of activity from those looking to cash in on memorabilia – so far, so predictable – but of these canny operators, one in particular stood out.
trying and failing to emulate Jackson’s signature dance move, the Moonwalk. His star lost much of its shine (and Jackson apparently much of his fortune) when child abuse accusations trailed him throughout the 1990s and beyond, until this year, on the brink of a major series of UK comeback concerts, he suffered a drug-induced heart attack at home. The peculiarities – and I haven’t even mentioned Bubbles the chimpanzee – did not stop there, however. Barely a week went by before the rumours began flying anew: everyone from Jackson’s doctor to a former child actor have so far been lined up as possible ‘fathers’ to Jackson’s children, and suggestions that the singer was murdered have already surfaced; according to some tabloid reports, the body was even missing his… erm… uniquely sculpted ‘nose’ when it was finally properly laid to rest and the media circus disbanded. Somewhat inevitably, Jackson’s death has triggered a manic flurry of activity from those looking to cash in on memorabilia – so far, so predictable – but of these canny operators, one in particular stood out. In an almost disturbingly macabre move (I’d have loved to have been at that product development meeting), the Chicago-based jewellery firm LifeGem, which ‘specialises in converting the carbon remains of the deceased into diamonds’, has supposedly turned the strands of Jackson’s hair that were famously burned off during the 1984 shooting of a Pepsi television advertisement into diamond jewellery. (Before you ask, some enterprising type present at the unscheduled pyrotechnics apparently scooped up an armful of Jackson’s un-singed hair and kept it for posterity. As well as, y’know, profit.) “This will be a limited collection and we anticipate great interest,” LifeGem’s founder Dean VandenBiesen is quoted as saying. Now, let’s pretend for a moment that this is a genuine plan of intent by the company and not simply the result of someone’s grubby plan to garner lots of free press coverage for LifeGem. Given Jackson’s welldocumented (and arguably so acute as to border on body dysmorphic) penchant for plastic surgery, would you say that turning Jackson’s actual body parts into jewellery is… well, crass in the extreme? Or is it, in our modern celebrity-obsessed world, simply a fitting product tie in? I for one just cannot decide. Moreover, would this body-bits-as-baubles fad perhaps explain where the ‘missing’ nose has gone?
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