When it comes to high quality home-grown products, the UK jewellery industry is in no short supply.
Great Britain is home to many outstanding jewellery suppliers, from large manufacturers regularly churning out high volumes, to independent goldsmiths creating remarkable pieces on their work benches every day.
One only needs to visit Hatton Garden and the Birmingham Jewellery Quarter to appreciate the talent this country has to offer.
Despite this, many consumers do not know about our exceptional trade, but now is the time to shout about it.
Ever since the UK opted to leave the European Union, the country has been in a state of political unrest.
This has resulted in the tightening of purse strings and consumer confidence reaching an all-time low — with shoppers making more considered purchases and asking more questions before making a final decision on what piece of jewellery they will buy.
With this in mind, the trade should take this opportunity to boast about the outstanding industry we have right here in Britain.
“Like most, the political uncertainty in 2017 presented us with challenges, namely the weak pound, but I also believe that it had and will present us with opportunities,” shares Charles Green manager director, Oli Sutton. “One would hope that in light of impending Brexit, consumers take more of an interest in where their jewellery is manufactured.”
“Provenance is an element on which today’s consumers are placing a lot of importance,” adds Domino’s marketing co-ordinator, Chantelle Serrell-Cooke. “I think the British jewellery market is only going to grow in popularity. Gone are the days where people are looking for a bargain, consumers are looking for quality products, that are ethically sourced and will last a lifetime.”
While buying British may not always feel like the cheapest option (although sometimes it is), in today’s current climate many shoppers believe you can’t put a price on buying something that they can trust is valuable, and worth the price on the ticket.
“UK customers, as well as global consumers, trust British made goods,” claims The Diamond Store chief executive officer, Gary Ingram. “When something is ‘made in Britain’, it immediately implies that the product is of a high quality, made ethically, comes with reassuring customer service and is backed by the integrity of the UK jewellery industry.”
Award-winning British jewellery designer and founder of the eponymous brand, Alex Monroe, echoes: “I think next year will be very positive for British-made jewellery. Even though it’s hard to compete with imported products, the quality we can offer by making in Britain can easily outshine overseas manufacturers.”
To help the industry shout about the benefits of British-made goods, the National Association of Jewellers has partnered with Made in Britain — a growing community of like-minded manufacturers and designer makers from all around the UK.
The agreement, which will come into full effect this year, will give NAJ members the opportunity to use the ‘Made in Britain’ marque at a preferential rate. In addition, manufacturing members who sign up to the scheme will benefit from publicity on both the NAJ and the Made in Britain websites, and the right to use a proposed optional mark on the jewellery itself.
At the moment, hallmarking of gold and silver by British assay officers only determines the metal, rather than the country in which the product has been made. It is hoped a country of origin mark on British-made goods will help boost sales and the value of British goods.
NAJ deputy co chairman and managing director at Hockley Mint, Gary Wroe, comments: “Hopefully we can continue to bang the drum for UK manufactured goods and drive the Made in Britain initiative in our sector to the consumer. They make the ultimate decision, we have to be reactive and offer flexibility to all of our customers. British made jewellery needs to shout more about being Made in Britain and the introduction of the new Made in Britain hallmark will help us in that task. Hockley Mint will be one of the first to provide this additional hallmark.”
Talking about how the industry can work together to support British manufacturers, Wroe continues: “The NAJ has taken the lead on the Made in Britain stance; as UK manufacturers we need to embrace the idea that our major competition is from imported goods. We need to stand together to showcase what is good about UK manufacturing — if we don’t then there is the potential that it will diminish and the 95% imported figure will in fact move to 96% and upwards. We employ and look after over 100 staff and their families we, as I know others, will fight to protect our UK industry.”
To help retailers support British made, the UK suppliers are more than happy to train staff, give tours of the factories, and provide any further education needed to highlight why it it is a desirable choice for the end consumer.
“It is important that retailers understand how British jewellery is made and the quality behind the products,” shares Serrell-Cooke. “At Domino we work hard to ensure our retailers visit our production line and discover for themselves the technologies and the hand-crafted bench skills that lie behind each piece. They can then pass on the story to their customers.”
Looking ahead, UK suppliers and manufacturers are confident consumers will consider ‘made in Britain’ an important factor in their purchasing decisions over the next 12 months.
Roseberry London, a company which will also be one of the first to implement the ‘Made in Britain’ mark, have already noticed an increase in retailers looking to stock more of its products.
“With Roseberry being British-made we have had many enquiries into expanding the range so that multiple/independent jewellers can increase the amount of British-made products versus Far East,” shares one of Roseberry London’s founders, Raphael Gutwirth. “We foresee an increase in public awareness of British made goods due to its quality, after sales services (i.e. repair and alterations) and overall people’s perception of sourcing locally — the understanding that buying British helps retain the skill and craftsmanship in the UK.”
Image credit: Hockley Mint