CEO and Assay Master to stand down in 2014 after 45-year career.
Birmingham Assay Office (BAO) has announced that its current Assay Master and chief executive Michael Allchin is set to retire next summer.
Allchin has held the role for 14 years having joined the BAO in 1998. The Assay Office said the news marks "the end of an era for the jewellery industry". Allchin is only the 12th Assay Master at the BAO in its 240-year history.
He joined the BAO at a time when it seemed likely that the EU would scrap the UK’s independent statutory hallmarking, in the interests of harmonisation.
The BAO said Allchin’s "relentless energy and positive approach" has driven the business forward and his sound understanding of the jewellery industry has been beneficial to the wider industry, too.
During his time at the BAO Allchin has introduced four additional successful trading divisions to the company: its in-house laboratory, the AnchorCert Gemmological Laboratory, SafeGuard Jewellery and Watch Valuations, and its heritage and training programs.
He has spent his 45-year career in the jewellery industry, travelling the world and buying and selling for companies ranging from small private businesses to Signet Group, where he was buying director for H. Samuel for 14 years.
He has also contributed to the Responsible Jewellery Council and CIBJO and has worked with the British Jewellers’ Association and the Goldsmiths’ Company to encourage the re-introduction of apprenticeships, while also supporting the work of the Birmingham School of Jewellery.
The work on the new Birmingham Assay Office, described as his "most significant legacy", will still be in progress when he leaves.
Allchin said of the announcement: “We all regard ourselves as temporary custodians of this unique institution. The Birmingham Assay Office is only still here because of our great team of people with their innovative thinking and classic Brummie entrepreneurial spirit.
"The jewellery industry has changed incredibly and unexpectedly over the last 10 years, largely due to the drastic increase in precious metal prices. Through the commitment and enthusiasm of the whole team we have successfully retained hallmarking and delivered four new strands to our business model, developing new niche services for the wider jewellery, watch, precious metal and gemstone industry."
Allchin says the BAO has quite literally laid the foundations and created a platform for the next 100 years of the Assay Office.
"It is time for me to move on and let a new chief executive and assay master bring in a fresh approach and a new burst of energy and enthusiasm to the Assay Office," he added.
"I feel very privileged to have been in a position to move The Birmingham Assay Office forward into the 21st Century and am grateful for all the support I have received both from my team here and many friends and colleagues in the trade. But I haven’t gone yet. There is a huge amount of work to be done in preparing for the move and running the business in such difficult times. I don’t need to tell anyone I will be giving the next twelve months my very best shot."