When asked whether the UK jewellery trade needed another magazine, the concept of Professional Jeweller was met with a resounding ‘no’, yet here we are ten years later celebrating a decade of exclusive interviews, breaking news and becoming the market leader. Take a trip down memory lane with us as our editor explores how this publication went from unwanted to most-wanted…
After 10 years launching magazines for the ITP Publishing Group in Dubai, Rob Corder landed in the UK to open a London office for the publishing house. His vision was to launch multi-channel trade titles that looked as good as the consumer glossies, and his first port of call was to produce a brand new B2B magazine for the jewellery industry. Towards the end of 2019, the talented and experienced Rachael Taylor left Retail Jeweller at Emap and joined Rob Corder on his mission to launch a new title into the jewellery trade. While most people were convinced there was no need for another industry title, it didn’t take long for Professional Jeweller to win the trade over with its high-quality free-of-charge online and print content.
In 2010, Rachael and Rob opened an office in a broom cupboard in Hitchin, Hertfordshire, and the dream to launch ITP’s first trade publication in the UK began. In March 2010, Professional Jeweller was born — just in time for the spring buying season, which landed the magazine its first handful of advertisers. As Rob reflects, “We were attacked from all side for having the temerity to launch a title into a market that already had five other dedicated magazines. But we had two aces up our sleeve: the Professionaljeweller.com website and its daily news alert”. Nobody else at the time was offering quantity or quality of news, free of charge, on a daily basis. By the summer, the team were ready to add an event to its belt and, with a line-up of sponsors including Swarovski, Hot Diamonds and the Company of Master Jewellers, the Hot 100 was launched to celebrate the achievements of the most inspiring and innovative movers and shakers. With rapid success, by the end of the year, the team were ready to make the jump into Central London.
By January 2011, just 10 months after the launch, Professionaljeweller.com was welcoming 21,000 unique visitors per month, generating around 100,000 page views. Web ranking companies put us miles in the lead against competitors who charge to access stories. At this point, Kathryn Bishop joined the team as deputy editor, and the bigger team decided to expand its product offer with the introduction of WatchPro magazine. Starting its life as a magazine bound inside Professional Jeweller, WatchPro commanded so much demand that by the summer it became its own separate magazine. Launching in June, the first separate edition hosted the now annual Watches of the Year initiative. Come the September, Professional Jeweller was hosting its second Hot 100, and to keep things fresh the venue was changed to One Mayfair, a former church down the road from Selfridges, and the concept was tweaked to include not just a party and a magazine, but a ‘reveal’ presentation live on stage as well.
Professional Jeweller continued to sparkle in the jewellery industry and the third Hot 100 was even more successful than the first two. Taking place at the Freemasons’ Hall, top industry professionals gathered with anticipation to find out if they had made the cut. Following its success, IJL signed a three-year deal as Diamond Partner, alongside CMJ as Principal Partner, ensuring the Hot 100 would run alongside the exhibition — a date we still takeover every year.
The advantage of being a spritely small business in London with a financial heavyweight parent company in Dubai is that when Professional Jeweller has an idea or spots an opportunity, the team can make it happen quickly. The soaring success of WatchPro encouraged the company to push into events and launch the London Watch Show and WatchPro Hot 100 simultaneously. It was a £300,000 investment that the company made because it believed so strongly in the strength of the UK watch industry and wanted to support it with events that encourage top executives to come together and share ideas.
In 2014, Rachael left to have her second baby. Stepping up to the plate, Kathryn became editor of Professional Jeweller, while Sarah Jordan joined as assistant editor. Together, they continued to build the success achieved during Rachael’s reign, with the help of commercial manager, Andrew Martyniuk. In the summer, the team launched Shop Floor Stars to honour the unsung heroes winning sales and boosting business on the British high street. After scouring through nominations and whittling them down to a list of 20 finalists, Professional Jeweller picked stand-out individuals to honour at a ceremony during the London Watch Show. Summer also saw the introduction of a new mini-magazine called BenchPro, which shined a light on the manufacturing and bespoke design processes that drive profits for jewellers. And if the calendar wasn’t busy enough, 2014 also saw the debut of Professional Jeweller Collections of the Year — an annual celebration of the best and most innovative new products launched within a given year.
A new year and a new editor for Professional Jeweller — Sarah was promoted when Kathryn left to pursue the next chapter of her career. And this is where my story with the magazine begins… joining the team in April 2015. Together Sarah and I continued to follow the legacy before us, completing the publication’s busy events calendar which included Shop Floor Stars, the Hot 100 and Collections of the Year. Sarah was a pleasure to work with, but sadly our time together didn’t last very long and she departed towards the end of the year to pursue other ambitions and enjoy a career as a freelancer.
Following an interim where I proved a 23-year-old in her first full-time journalism job outside of university could hold the baton and continue to take Professional Jeweller from strength-to-strength, I was promoted to editor in 2016. From here on out I have ran the magazine by myself, writing all the content you see online and in the magazine. I definitely felt thrown in the deep end, but my first time hosting the Hot 100 and receiving immense support from the trade made all the blood, sweat and tears of the first year in the new role worth it. Deciding that there was no way I could get a full picture of the trade from my base in London, I also started a series called ‘PJ Cityscapes’ in 2016. This involved me visiting a different city every month and meeting all the jewellers to find out about business in that particular location. 2016 also saw the successful introduction of the WatchPro Awards.
After a few months on the road meeting jewellers up and down the country, I realised there were so many amazing businesses that just weren’t being reported on because they weren’t on any publication’s radar. At the same time, the director of ITP Promedia and I felt the Hot 100 was getting a bit tired – yes, the party was amazing and our free event was attracting almost 1,000 professionals – but the same people were appearing again and again in certain categories such as business big shots which didn’t allow much space for change as CEO’s often stay in their positions for a long time. So in 2017 we decided to launch the Professional Jeweller Awards. Again, we were met with backlash, people felt there were already too many awards in the trade’s calendar, but having proved everyone wrong with the launch of Professional Jeweller itself, we didn’t let negative feedback stop us and we successfully honoured trade professionals across 16 categories during an informal BBQ at Kensington Roof Gardens in Central London. By using our knowledge of the trade throughout the entire country, we managed to honour inspiring businesses which others wouldn’t even know of, and by using a system of retailers voting for suppliers and suppliers voting for retailers we were commended for having bona fide winners.
Building on the success of the inaugural awards, we made the 2018 ceremony big and better with a sit-down black-tie dinner at the Bloomsbury Ballroom in Central London. Still holding our reputation as the only place to be on the second night of International Jewellery London, a high calibre of individuals from the country’s top businesses joined us on the night and we were once again commended for having a strong list of worthy winners. Furthermore, we showed that less is more, and many were thankful that our event (which had a limit of 150 professionals) allowed people to actually network and build relationships on the night.
Last year we continued to go from strength-to-strength, with our online stats reaching a record high as we continued to deliver the most up-to-date, engaging and breaking news. Believing enough time has passed since the Hot 100, we launched the inaugural Power List — a celebration in our May print of individuals from jewellery retailers and suppliers who are blazing a trail in the market. The Power List recognises those who are playing a major role in promoting innovation, championing customer service and pioneering profitable changes — whether that be a managing director leading by example from the top, or an administer delivering business boosting after care service that is integral to a firm. We also hosted our third, and in my opinion, best Professional Jeweller Awards. Not only did we host over 200 business big shots at the prestigious Lord’s Cricket Ground, but we also had the privilege of honouring the recently retired Beaverbrooks director, Andrew Brown, who received a standing ovation on the night for his 57 years’ service to the industry. At the end of the year I was joined by a new commercial manager, Anne-Marie Judge, who is already proving to be a real asset to Professional Jeweller.
So that brings us to this year – the year 2020 – where we are celebrating a decade of Professional Jeweller. Thank you to all our loyal readers and advertisers who have sent us in well wishes and testimonials to the vital role we play in the market. This year has already got off to an amazing start, with our March edition welcoming the Women’s Jewellery Network board as guest editors and our second annual Power List nominations underway with 50 shining lights due to be revealed in next month’s issue (May 2020(. We are also gearing up for our fourth annual awards and have some other surprises up our sleeves for the rest of the year. Together, Professional Jeweller and its sister title, WatchPro, are the go-to platforms for industry news and analysis and I am confident both publications will only continue to expand their reach and be market leaders for years to come.
Since writing this feature on our 10 year anniversary coronavirus has swept the nation and caused widespread problems for the UK jewellery industry. We here at Professional Jeweller are pleased to be able to support the trade through this, with our website continuing to be updated daily and our print publications still going ahead. During the pandemic, our website has been viewed by record numbers as jewellery industry professionals have turned to this trusted publication for help, advice and guidance. We promise to continue to support the industry and stand with them during this difficult time. Feel free to email me if there is anything you want to see covered, or if you have a story an inspiring story to share.