Jason Holt on making Great British jewellery great again.
By Jason Holt
As guest editor, and never one to miss an opportunity (or so I am told by my wife), I used the January edition of Professional Jeweller to reignite the debate: What do we need to do to make British jewellery Great again?
I recently attended the 125th anniversary of the BJA at the House of Commons – 60 of the good and great of the industry (present company excluded) sat at the longest dining table, the type you only see on TV for royal banquets (I was dying to ask the person at the far end to pass the salt). Next to me was Lee Lucas – the man singly responsible for taking my little training initiative in the basement of our Hatton Garden store to the 1,000 student per year not-for-profit social enterprise college for the industry that is Holts Academy.
At the reception, the key-note speaker was the Birmingham Assay Office’s Michael Allchin, who gave a superb rendition of the past 125 years of the industry, and there were three messages that sprung out for me from Michael’s talk.
First, we are facing the toughest time in 125 years – the most dramatic decline in hallmark figures; greatest reduction in UK manufactured goods; the rise and fall of Sir John Cass Jewellery School – once the largest jewellery school in Europe; and the massive increase in raw material prices. All against a backdrop of consumer austerity. It’s never looked so bad (and that’s how the talk ended!). Second: pass me the anti-depressants, Lee. Third: we need to sort ourselves out.
We need to compete in the world, not just in our small local market that is the UK. How do we do that? And from that, of course, a host of other questions follow. What are the strengths we need to win? How do we look at business in a different, more ambitious light?
But why now? Let me tell you, now is the time – during adversity – we learn the most. We learn from our mistakes, dare to make courageous decisions and raise our game.
This column has been adapted from an original that first appeared in the January 2013 issue of Professional Jeweller. To see a digital copy of this issue click here.