BAO’s Michael Allchin claims potential lies in £100m sector.

Fashion jewellery is the only sector showing any growth, according to Birmingham Assay Office chief executive Michael Allchin.

As part of a panel discussion on the impact of materials prices on the jewellery industry at the first CMJ UK Jewellery Conference in Birmingham yesterday Allchin described the decline of hallmarking figures and said that the only sector showing growth was fashion jewellery which he stated is now worth £100 million a year.


Allchin said: “The only growth is in fashion jewellery and high-end jewellers are beginning to stock fashion [base metal] jewellery.”

He described the mass market in jewellery as having “been really thumped” and said that the decline in gold jewellery has been “a catastrophe” with units of gold jewellery hallmarked falling from 14 million in 2006 to 3 million last year.

The Birmingham Assay Office has been working on extending its reach beyond precious metals hallmarking as the decline in hallmarking has hit hard. As well as branching out into training, diamond grading, valuations, engraving and analysing fashion jewellery.

The fashion jewellery analysis service – which tests costume jewellery to make sure that it is in line with regulations concerning elements like nickel and lead levels – is now reaching a par with the Birmingham Assay Office’s precious metals hallmarking business. “Fashion jewellery is booming,” said Allchin, in an interview with Professional Jeweller in February. “Silver is becoming more expensive so there is a rise in the amount of products that use things like cord and rubber.”