Images from the IRV Loughborough Conference 2015.

AnchorCert Gem Lab, the gemstone and diamond testing and grading arm of Assay Office Birmingham, has reported another successful year supporting the annual Institute of Registered Valuers (IRV) Loughborough Conference.

For the eighth year running AnchorCert was a leading sponsor of the event, which this year won record attendance. A total of 210 delegates attended across the realms of specialist jewellery valuations, gemmology, sales and servicing, including employees of Assay Office Birmingham.

AnchorCert Academy director Marion Wilson says: “This was my ninth Loughborough conference and it gets better every year. It was great to see so many young people there, exchanging views with those who have decades of experience.”


Guests attending the weekend at the Burleigh Court Conference Centre enjoyed an intensive, information-packed two days, covering a wide range of jewellery and gemstone valuing topics ranging from antique silver to the latest advances in high-tech gemmological equipment. There was also the opportunity for networking and socialising for guests.

AnchorCert Gem Lab praised the opening to the conference, featuring speaker Elizabeth Goring, who discussed suffragette jewellery – a pertinent and interesting topic in the light of the upcoming Suffragette film.

Other guest speakers included Joanna Whalley of the V&A Museum, who presented a talk on the upcoming Bejewelled Treasures Al Thani exhibition, which opens at the museum on November 21 and runs through to March 2016.

Distinguished Antiques Roadshow jewellery valuer and expert Joanna Hardy was also present. She spoke vividly to the assembled 200-plus delegates about her experience working with memorable diamonds and jewels found in the vaults of Cartier and Christie’s auction house.

But it wasn’t just about the conference’s wide range of retail, gemmology and valuation workshops. NAG chairman and F. Hinds director Andrew Hinds also used the weekend to launch a new venture: Scotch Bonnet chilli sauce. Hinds, assisted by AnchorCert Academy director Marion Wilson, sold all 54 bottles of the sauce, raising almost £300 for the NAG’s Centenary Trust charity.

Joanna Hardy also kindly donated two books for which auctioneer Stephen Whittaker extracted £500 from the generous audience. This meant the NAG’s Centenary Trust charity benefitted from a total £800 from the weekend’s activities.

The conference was also a chance for the industry to look both backwards and forwards. Its organiser Sandra Page, who has worked for the NAG for the past 40 years, was gifted a ruby and diamond pendant as a thank you for all of her hard work, met with a standing ovation from the delegates.

Recently appointed NAJ chief executive Michael Rawlinson was also present, assuring IRV members and delegates that the Institute would remain an important part of the new organisation going forward.

Closing the Conference on Monday, new IRV chairman Frank Wood implored members to get involved and give feedback to the IRV to help continue the excellent work that has been done in the past few years since its formation. Wood states: “As the NAG and BJA we are at a crossroads, I believe in the future of the IRV and I will work as hard as I can to move it forward.”

Echoing Wood’s words, Marion Wilson outlined just how vital the IRV was to the trade today: “The IRV is developing into an increasingly important body. It now needs its members to support it and engage with it in between conferences, as well as at Loughborough, in order to keep moving forward.