Campaign launches to get 20ct hallmark for 2020


Jewellery director David Gilbert leads the way for gold promo project.

A campaign is brewing in the jewellery industry to introduce a 20ct gold UK hallmark in time for the year 2020 to support what could be a year-long marketing opportunity for the UK trade.

The campaign is being led by David Gilbert, who works at wholesale jewellery company Leslie Donn as sales and development director. He has begun contacting key members of the industry to drum up support for the idea, which he says will take a minimum of five years to action.

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“For the consumer there’s a chance to own a limited-edition item or collection of fine jewellery, and for the retailer and manufacturer there is the chance of an increase in sales and promotion of their store, website and other services,” said Gilbert, who has set up a LinkedIn group to get the trade talking about his idea.

Gilbert has already started working on the project and has designed a 2020 logo that could be used to market 20ct gold.
“The industry needs to give it some serious consideration and then ask itself what else could be done to promote 20ct gold products,” he said. “What we need is interest from all sections of the trade; we need comments, thoughts and need to spread interest in the idea.”

Birmingham Assay Office chief executive and assay master Michael Allchin believes that the project could offer benefits to the industry but is wary of the amount of work needed to put it into action. Allchin said: “I think in terms of marketing for gold it is a brilliant idea, but in order to achieve it a lot of things need to put it into effect.”

The challenges that the 20ct hallmark will face include the need for an ISO standard for 20ct gold approved by the International Organisation for Standardisation in Geneva.

While he supports the idea in theory, Allchin expressed concerns as to whether the concept would drum up enough consumer interest to make it a worthwhile project. He also raised concerns that the hallmark might cause confusion at a consumer level as its jostles for a place amongst existing 18ct and 22ct hallmarks that have already established themselves.

Designer and chairman of jewellery organisation JeDeCo, Cindy Dennis-Mangan, said that she would support an initiative that increases consumer confidence in and awareness of precious metals, but also raised concerns about the idea. “It would be good for the industry, whether it is for designers, manufacturers or retailers, they could all benefit from this kind of thing,” she said. “My only concern is that 18ct gold is already the standard for fine jewellery because the alloy is very good for setting stones. Will 20ct be OK when it comes to soldering, are we sure it will work? The alloy will need to be tested for strength, but of course I’d back a marketing scheme for it if it was a go ahead.”

There will be a lot of Government red tape to battle through to have a 20ct UK hallmark created by 2020, and while Gilbert (pictured below) is spearheading the campaign Allchin believes that he will need a strong and full backing from the trade to achieve his goal. “He will need the support of parliament and legislation to get an ISO 20ct standard and they would have to amend the Hallmarking Act,” explains Allchin, who also raised concerns that the request might not find itself high up on the Government’s list of priorities. “It will be up to the refiners to say yes, let’s get with it, and that could happen.”

Dr Robert Organ, deputy warden of The Goldsmiths’ Company Assay Office, also offered his opinion with regards to the Hallmarking Act. “The Act has been amended several times since 1973 as new materials and methods have come to fore in the industry,” he explains. “If it can be shown that there is sufficient demand for a new fineness, then I’m sure that the British Hallmarking Council will consider the request very seriously.”

20ct gold does already exist, mostly in the Far East and Asia, and though this could essentially be manufactured and shipped over for a celebratory jewellery collection to mark 2020, it would still need to be hallmarked upon arrival in the UK. If this were to happen without the creation of a UK 20ct hallmark the gold would be stamped 18ct, thus largely defeating the object of the 2020 marketing idea.

“It will take five years to put through legislation,” said Gilbert. “By the time we get enough interest and lobbying under our belts it will be 2013, so add the 5 years legislation and we’re at 2018 – the perfect timing for design, production, sales and marketing to the retailer and on the shelves for January 1 2020.”

Gilbert suggests that the 2020 campaign should look back to the successful Millenium hallmarking campaign. The cross-shaped year 2000 hallmark adorned many pieces of jewellery that year. “It has that significance,” he says, relating the Millenium mark and the proposed 2020 hallmark.

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