The CMJ UK jewellery conference got off to a flier yesterday as leading industry speakers shared tips, trends and advice on how jewellery retailers and brands can do more business. Professional Jeweller was in Nottingham to capture all the action and, for those who missed it, here’s our exclusive timeline of all the main action.

Question to audience – how has trade been in 2016 so far? 61% said better than last year. It’s looking healthy. And 67% of the audience voted for the UK to stay in the EU earlier this year.

Rhys Herbert from Lloyds Banking Group, gave a run down on the economy. Most markets have shrugged off the impact of Brexit and the UK stock market has been doing well, approaching a high point this year. But sterling has plummeted against the dollar and euro – it is about 18% lower than it was last year. This will be great for exporters and will likely fuel inflation.


Herbert explained the immediate impact of Brexit on the economy has been small. Consumer confidence remains high after an initial dip. But, the uncertainties have put off investors. He expects stronger growth than most people predicted for the third quarter. Exports are likely to pick up, but inflation could eat into real wages and reduce consumer spending.

Next year is likely to see slower economic growth. Interest rates are likely to stay very low for some time, even if inflation rises in the short term.

Question from the floor – why were gloomy, pre-Brexit predictions so wrong? Herbert said consumer confidence was not hit as badly as predicted in the short term, but there are still a lot of uncertainties. “We’re not out of the woods yet.”

Stella Layton, CEO of Birmingham Assay Office, gave an update on the jewellery industry.

“I do think there will be some negative implications and we just need to take a breath before it [the impact of Brexit] hits.” – a foreboding statement from Layton.

Layton’s graphics showed a year on year reduction in the number of precious metal articles sold since 2013. It’s clearly looking like a difficult market. But Mintel’s estimate said that the jewellery market grew in 2015 and will continue to grow to £4.5bn until 2020.

Silver is still the most bought, driven by 16-24-year-old women. 28% of males aged 16-24 have bought jewellery for themselves in the last five years. If one thing was clear from Layton’s slides, it’s that things are continually changing.

The number of marriages are reducing since having peaked in 1972. There are some challenges on this front, then. In response, Layton said studies show if a couple comes into buy an engagement ring you’re likely to get them to spend more than if a man comes in on his own.

Buying habits – more people are happy to spend a lot of money on non-precious metal jewellery. This is not to be ignored and will likely continue, Layton said. Costume jewellery is attracting the younger buyer and personalisation for men’s jewellery is a growing trend.

Pressure from online competition is always on. Shops online never close, delivery initiatives grow (for example, collection lockers), the need for speed, 3D imagery and visualisation means customers don’t have to go into a store to try jewellery on. All this tech is not to be ignored! It certainly attracts younger buyers. Layton’s advice: “Keep up with the kids!”

Layton advised that the consumer now has a voice and any bad press can bring toxicity to jewellery companies/retailer, which can rarely be controlled even with solid facts. Worth noting! “We have to be seen whiter than white,” she said.

Diamonds – inconsistent grading continues and industry standards need to be set, we hear. Certificate fraud, lab grown diamonds and synthetics are a big, big danger.

Protection charms could be a retail opportunity as the consumer becomes more aware of terrorism abroad.

TECH TIP – don’t ignore technology, whatever you do. And on social media, engage, engage, engage!

Question to the audience – How confident are you about your Christmas forecast being achieved? 32% say very.

Break-out seminar – Jonathan Bradshaw’s seminar had a full turn out of people keen to get the top tips on the psychology of persuasion. First pointers: we like to follow what other people do; we’re all hardwired to give back when someone has given us something.

Just be nice, be likeable, be authentic. Some seemingly simple but fantastically effective tips for retailers.

Authority is a classic way of influence, look at the white coat syndrome, Bradshaw urged. Be powerful but smooth – jittery handshakes are banned! This seminar was a gold mine for retailers.

Feed your customers. Never gossip about competitors for risk of spontaneous trait transference. Don’t overwhelm people with too many options. If you have something negative to tell the customer, make sure you say it at the beginning and then build on it with positives. Touch affects the customer and increases connection, some care is needed here. Just as important as a first impression is an end impression, for example some great small talk.

One retailer commented: “I’ve found just a touch on the arm makes a massive difference.” This prompted Bradshaw to say that you can’t do that from behind the counter so don’t be stuck behind it. It also helps you to remember a customer and this can have a massive impact on a sale, if you wow them by remembering their name.

Jonathan Bradshaw, CEO of the Meetology Group, delivered the next keynote.

Question to the audience – Do you know your top 10 customers? 81% claimed yes, a healthy proportion.

A quick crash course in neuroscience got the audience in gear for Bradshaw’s delivery. To round it up, we’re all hardwired to be social.

Some fascinating evidence and studies were put forward as Bradshaw set up for the next part of his keynote.

Memorising a customer can have a huge impact on a sale. But to memorise customers is difficult, as most in the audience agree. Bradshaw said mnemonics, a complicated but extremely useful memory technique can help.

TOP TIP – When you meet a customer: listen to their name and ask them to repeat it; use their name once in the conversation and when you leave; spell the name out in your head; create an unusual visual image of their name – the crazier the better.

‘Uptalk’ can make a person sound less confident. Avoid fillers such as, ‘so’, ‘actually’, ‘like’ and ‘literally’, which can make you sound less authoritative to a customer. Interestingly, Bradshaw said swearing can help people bond and can influence, but be careful with different professional or cultural situations.

The insightful points kept coming. Smiling makes people more memorable, it makes you more likeable and makes customers happy too. “Emotions are like a virus, they spread,” Bradshaw said. Also, blushing can make you seem more authentic and more trustworthy.

Big rooms with few people make it difficult for people to connect and touch is hugely important. Some valuable points for retailers considering retail space and how they interact with customers.

Mirroring customers’ body language can increase sales by 17%, Bradshaw said.

Retail design tips – a warm temperature increases connectivity; don’t put a barrier between the customer, for example a counter; natural light is good; people are more likely to buy when going physically up, for example up some stairs; giving people less choice; plants, flowers and music can all have positive effects.

Bradshaw capped off his truly interesting keynote and urged that social skills are the most important a retailer can develop when it comes to increasing sales.

Question to audience – What is your primary activity for promoting your business? A massive 39% said social media.


Howard Saunders, who has been in retail design for more than 25 years, delivered his keynote, the Future is Scary.

Face recognition software and pilot-less planes – Saunders kicked off with all the scary stuff that could be coming in the future. 3D printing is another one, it’s already being used by some jewellery designers.

The closure of giants Macy’s and Schwarz show just how difficult the high street has become. Saunders hammered home that the ‘future is scary’ for retailers, but he assured the slightly depressed audience there is a silver lining to every cloud.

A new customer has emerged he said – PAM (Post Apocalypse Man). Deadly serious. You could also call them millennials.

There’s been a shift. Since 2008, customers have been able to research products before buying them and know exactly what they want. Take coffee, customers don’t want a coffee, they want the coffee.

You have to sell the jewellery product. You have to be niche. You have to be an expert. PAM, the ‘post apocalyptic man’, only trusts experts. Saunders said this is why we’re seeing the death of the department store – you can’t be a generalist, he says. Be niche.

Saunders introduced the Choice Paradox. Reiterating what Bradshaw said, giving customer’s too much choice can be overwhelming and can backfire.

Clever brands react to people seeing themselves as important. For example, H&M’s billboard campaign of ‘ordinary people’. Bespoke, customisation is the future, Saunders said. Customers don’t want ordinary, they want personalisation.

Nixon watches, Saunders said, get the post apocalypse customer. They allow customers to create their own watches, which is a powerful retailing method.

But, it doesn’t work when you let customers design the whole product. Take the iconic piece, and let the customer tweak it a bit.

We’ve entered a new age of ‘talkies’, the audience was told. People are desperate to connect. Saunders says stores can’t just contain things, they have to connect and reach out to people.

Stores that make customers the centre of the universe, as Saunders put it, do well. Some brands photograph their customers wearing the brand and feature it on store and online and people want a slice of that.

TOP TIP – make time for your customers. Samsung 837 in New York is a pioneer store which features photos of customers in the store, has a coffee bar and holds events – and they don’t sell anything. But people fall in love with the brand.

“Stores are dead. Clubs are the future,” some interesting advice from Saunders. He urged, be a David, not a little Goliath. Big companies find it difficult to connect with customers, so smaller businesses have to capitalise on the connections they can make.

Donald Trump made an appearance on Saunders’ slide – an unexpected turn. But, he insisted it’s relevant. Being authentic and empathetic with the customer is what gets them to connect with a brand.

Localism is the future of retail, the audience hears. Smaller, more personal brands are on the up and the big brands are selling less.

So what can brands do to ‘be David’, Saunders asked: sell local products; customer testimonials and recommendations; vintage rejuvenation; links with repairers; jewellery cases and watch boxes; highlight local favourites. Brands need to build the love.

Question to the audience – What’s your Christmas best seller going to be? 54% said jewellery, 16% watches and 12% smartwatches.

Break out seminar – we joined Fog Bandit to discuss security fog deterrents.

The room was treated to some impressive videos boasting Fog Bandit’s 33 foiled robberies. We were informed the key to its success is instant activation, rapid fill and a 10 second rule.

The fog aims to empower staff, separate the staff from the trauma of threat and to be a deterrent. Breaking eye contact and pushing the raider to the door is central to the security fog system. The system is activated by a panic button.

For a thief, getting caught is worse than getting nothing. Fog Bandit insists that it’s a huge deterrent.


As part of a two second demonstration, Fog Bandit fills the seminar room with fog, to the surprise of the audience.

Question to the audience – Do you use social media in your business? 90% said yes. That’s unsurprising with it being 2016.

THE BIG REVEAL – the mystery speaker was announced as 12-year-old Henry Patterson, founder of Not Before Tea, who has featured in Forbes magazine.

Patterson revealed how his mum taught him how to make a press release, hoping for the local newspaper to pick it up and ended up on page three of The Daily Mail – quite an achievement for the young Richard Branson-in-the-making.

Branson, on The One Show, told Patterson to think big and that you don’t have to wear a suit to be successful.

Patterson, who’s more used to public speaking than the average 12-year-old, has his sights on working with the BBC and has a business book coming.

Bill Turnbull was complimented by Patterson on his “excellent question” regarding the name for his business – Not Before Tea – inspired by an excuse not to do homework.

Question from the floor – How do you juggle being a fun loving school boy and an entrepreneur? He answered that his school are very supportive and allow him time off and elaborates, “You’ll never find me on a sports field”. Regarding his future, Patterson said he enjoys public speaking and presenting. But he joked that if any of the audience wanted to collaborate on a business idea, he’s open to talks. It might be worth taking him up on that!

Patterson revealed his mother and accountants deal with the numbers side of the business and that he receives support and advice.

YouTube is the number one channel to communicate to the next generation of consumers according to Patterson. You’ve got to offer something different, he said and let your imagination run wild.


Question to the audience – If you wanted to rebrand or create an advert, who would you go to? 36% said they would do it themselves and 31% said a local agency.

Break out seminar – Facets PR took the room through using social media in their businesses. In this day and age, social media is an essential part of most businesses. There are 2.3 billion people in the world using social media and in the UK 60% use it. These are huge figures and there are definitely some raised eyebrows.

How to convey your brand on social media: know your objectives and audience; think before you post; know which channels you want to use. Social media is all about creating a personality for your brand and thinking of your brand as a person – what would it say? What tone would it use?

se an 80:20 content balance where 20% should be core selling links and the other 80% should be about creating a brand personality and making an interesting feed, Facets PR said.

Knowing your audience is super important. Who are they? What do they want from you? Target them with specific content and posts. Getting them to engage is more important than getting pure numbers.

In terms of channels, Facebook is still the best place to be at the moment. Instagram can be equally as good, especially for jewellery retailers who can benefit from sharing product images.

A social media policy should give specific examples to operators, should offer training, empower employees to become brand ambassadors and trust employee judgement.

Key social media trends – mobile (51% of people access social media on mobile); pay to play (by 2020 digital ad spend will outgrow TV ad spend; ambassadors (peer promotion culture); live streaming (Periscope and Facebook live); new channels (Snapchat accounts for 12% of social media usage, that’s 350% growth since 2015).

Advertising on Facebook can be a small investment but can reach masses of new followers with very specifically targeted ads.

User generated content, which can be acquired by generating a simple hashtag, can produce masses of excellent content for free and can help people form a connection with a brand. It also means your feed will be constantly fresh and identifiable amongst your customers.

Shoppable content is being led by Instagram. Strategic hashtags and great images are driving this trend and is definitely one to watch for jewellery companies. Within three clicks customers can go from Instagram picture to shopping basket. Shopify, Engagehub, Foursixty and snapppt are some shoppable content platforms.


Rubies – Joanna Hardy, independent fine jewellery specialist and regular on BBC’s Antiques Roadshow, took us through a presentation on ‘ruby land’.

Pretty much every year for the last few years there has been a world record ruby. The latest, the Sunrise Ruby is 23.59ct. Ruby is commanding huge money. There’s no argument about that.

Thailand and Cambodia have both more or less dried up of rubies. The areas are now limited to artisan stones and they are so small, there is nothing really of value. Myanmar in Burma, however, contains slightly more, Hardy insisted.

Ruby Dragon is the biggest ruby mining company in the Mogok area of Burma. For the first few years, at 300 metres down they did not find a single ruby.

Remarkable stories emerged of how she met ruby cutters in Burma who were able to cut stones without microscopes or loops or any such technology. Has this craft been lost in the West?

Hardy noted that a lot of future gemstones will originate from Mozambique. About 8.4 million carats of ruby came out of one mine in 2015.

It was in Mozambique that the Eyes of the Dragon, which together way 45ct, were found. Mr Veersak in Thailand, who taught himself to cut, cut the rubies himself, which is a rarity in itself.

The Grill Willie interview concluded the day’s proceedings. Another invaluable day of keynotes provided by the CMJ to retailers, with the addition of highly insightful break out seminars made 2016’s UK Jewellery Conference a truly successful event.