PJ sits down with manufacturer Bloch & Co’s Kristel Laurijssens to find out what the business has been up to recently.

Tell readers about Bloch & Co.
Bloch & Co is a manufacturer of the finest quality diamond and gemstone jewellery, working exclusively in 18k gold and platinum and using only the finest quality materials. We set ourselves apart by our quality offering, coupled with our exceptional service.

Working with only best-in-class materials, and the finest highly skilled artisans. Even though we consider ourselves quite classic in our styling, this quality offering makes each of our pieces and collections quite unique and a real point of difference for our partners.

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How is business going for Bloch & Co this year?
Honestly, things have been going exceptionally well across all markets. The European trade shows we attended at the start of the year (Vicenzaoro, Geneva and Inhorgenta Munich), were all very successful, both for existing and new business.

We signed new clients in all of our current markets as well as clients in new territories too. For the UK it was exceptional. The partnerships we have started over the last few years have been the main driver behind this, and it something we are only continuing to nurture.

Bloch & Co is based in Antwerp. Do you have offices abroad, such as in the UK, or do you work through distributors?
We actually opened a UK company back in late 2019. We did this so we can more effectively work with our UK retailers. One of the drivers behind this was that we were fully aware of the challenges ahead that new customs rules would bring.

We felt that the best way to offer the best experience and service to our partners was to deal with these issues for them. The other key factor was the importance of the UK market for us as a company. We recognised a lot of synergies between our home market and the UK, particularly in the classic high-quality styling we offer.

I understand Bloch & Co places a great deal of importance on its retailer and supplier partnerships. Can you talk about why these matter so much?
For us, partnerships are the most important aspect of our business. We work in an industry where trust is the most important thing, and the trust of our partners even more so.

From both a supplier and retailer perspective we need to know that when we sit with them they fully understand our needs and requirements, and that we understand and respect theirs.

This is the true basis of a business partnership, and is something that Charles Bloch founded his company on. In fact, I would go one further and say our partnerships are more akin to friendships, as I believe is borne out by our many long-lasting relationships in the trade.

Without true partners in supply, it would be impossible to offer consistence in quality of product and service. We deal with only top-quality materials, and this in turn makes them rare even among the beautiful rare products our industry works with.

If we don’t have these strong relationships supporting our search for the finest of materials, it would be impossible to maintain our standards. And with our retailers, in the ever changing landscape they operate in, we know how important product offering is.

Our goal in a partnership is to allow our retailers to be fully confident in looking after their most important commodity: their clients. We can only do this by fully understanding their needs, and also communicating clear expectations. This generates the trust needed to drive success.

I would also say that, for us, partnerships go beyond the scope of suppliers and retailers. Whether it be people such as the professional jeweller, trade show organisers, packaging suppliers or our fantastic team of employees, we always see things in the same terms: as being partners in business.

Our industry, as are most, is quickly changing and evolving, and it is only with the strongest of partnerships that we can continue to be successful and evolve.

Have strong partnerships like these helped you deal with the supply chain issues that have plagued us recently?
The short answer is: yes. We have an exceptional reputation with every single one of our suppliers. We have also always made a point of being extra supportive with our suppliers as partners.

This, then, is always reciprocated, allowing us to alleviate many of our supply issues. We are also in an extremely strong position being in the heart of Antwerp, so we have access to an exceptional supply offering, unlike many of our competitors.

Further to the supply point, we also benefit greatly from the fact that we employ our craftsmen in-house, so the many issues and limitations in manufacturing found by others, as well as extended lead times, are largely mitigated.

I won’t pretend there aren’t issues. The reality is that the limited supply drives up price. This is something that is very difficult to overcome. Even so we work harder than ever to try and overcome as much of this as possible.

It can also be increasingly challenging to find the highest quality and rarest of goods, this being for multiple economic, geographic and geo-political reasons. But again, our relationships have stood us in good stead to overcome many of these.

Are there any upcoming collection releases?
For collection releases, we are focused more on line extensions at the moment. We are continuing to grow and adapt our ever successful toi et moi offering. This will encompass different price points, stone offerings and designs.

We also continuously review and update all of our collections. So there is always something new and interesting within our designs or maybe something special with regards to the gemstones we use.

What comes next for Bloch & Co?
There is no real news to report, other than our continued growth and our plans to continue being a stable and supportive partner to all of our clients and suppliers. Our goal is always to offer the finest goods in category at the best value available, in a highly efficient and supportive manner.

In other words, being a good partner. We look forward to meeting all of our partners over the months ahead, whether in-store at an upcoming buying meeting or the trade shows we will be exhibiting at over the next few months.

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