Q&A: Palladium Alliance chairman John Stark

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We put some questions to the palladium boss about his plans for the UK

The interest in palladium is increasing but many have criticised the lack of marketing to consumers. Rachael Taylor asks Palladium Alliance International chairman John Stark some questions about how his organisation is going to change the UK market.

The Palladium Alliance is an organisation based in the US that is set up to help promote the precious metal in a similar way to how the Platinum Guild International works to push platinum. Until now, its efforts have been focused on the US market but in 2011 it has its sights set on the UK.

Palladium Alliance chairman John Stark is the man behind the mission to push palladium in the UK and has been flying back and fore from his base in the US to oversee some key initial projects that have included collaborating with Vivienne Westwood on a range of palladium jewellery and teaming up with cutting-edge fashion college Central Saint Martins to run a competition for jewellery designs in palladium.

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While operations in the UK are at very early development stages, Stark speaks to Professional Jeweller about how the organisation is going to work in the UK market and his forecasts for how palladium will develop as a precious metal in the UK. Read on to find out what he had to say.

Will the Palladium Alliance work in a similar way to the Platinum Guild International?
In so much as supporting retailers, designers and manufacturers with education, training and support materials to further their efforts, yes it will be very similar. Like PGI and other marketing organisations, we will be embarking on a strategy to bring the palladium message to the consumer.

By aligning yourself with Vivienne Westwood and Central Saint Martins are you intentionally aligning palladium with cutting-edge fashion?
Although those designers are considered trendy, many are also icons in the fashion arena. We like to think of jewellery designers who work with palladium as leaders in our industry. The qualities of this metal are extraordinary. The people who work with the metal are extraordinary. And consumers who are drawn to the metal are far more than trendy. Yes, they are fashion forward, but they are also well-educated, active and affluent.

How has the market developed for palladium in the States?
It is growing in leaps and bounds. Todd Reed and Cynthia Zava – two very respected US designers – recently walked away with AGTA Spectrum Awards for spectacular pieces created in palladium. Retail jewellers are seeing more and more or their customers looking for an alternative to white gold and other more traditional metals. We not only feel the opportunity is ripe in the US, we know it.

The PGI has criticised palladium as being unable to market itself without using the word platinum. Are you relying too heavily on the association with platinum?
It’s impossible to educate the trade or general public about the metal without some reference to platinum. With that said, make no mistake about it, palladium can stand on its own merits.

Has the rising price of precious metals helped palladium?
Certainly but prices alone will never sustain the viability of any product, brand or service. Palladium’s attributes will set it apart from other metals and will ultimately be responsible for its success and longevity.

Has the palladium hallmark bolstered sales in the UK?
It’s classification as a hallmark is definitely helpful. It helps to solidify our position and authenticate it as a precious metal worthy of all fine jewellery – including bridal and fashion.

To date, palladium has had most success in the men’s bridal market – do you expect this to continue, or will palladium successfully branch out into other areas?
Most definitely other areas. There is no limit to this metal. We are obviously seeing that first hand with Vivienne’s collection and so many of the other designers working with palladium in the UK and US.

 

This article was taken from the April 2011 issue of Professional Jeweller magazine. See the whole edition by clicking here.

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