The ‘Great 18ct. Debate’

The ‘Great 18ct. Debate’ staged on 3 September by Emagold UK in the Theatre of Jewellery at International Jewellery London has certainly succeeded in getting the industry talking about the whys and wherefores of trading up to higher carat gold jewellery.

An audience of around 60 people, including representatives from the National Association of Goldsmiths, the Worshipful Company of Goldsmiths, the Assay Offices of Great Britain and the British Jewellers’ Association heard lively presentations from four speakers, each of whom gave their own personal view of the 18ct. market.

The participants were Stella Dorsett, European President of the bullion dealer, Cookson Precious Metals, Simon Harrison, prize-winning jewellery designer and managing director of the design company Simon Harrison Limited; Jonathan Lambert of the jewellery manufacturer and retailer, M & M, and John Henn, chairman of NAG and managing director of retailer, T A Henn of Wolverhampton. Appollonius Nooten Boom, Emagold member and director of Hean Studio, was in the Chair.

The speakers’ presentations served to underline a number of facts about the current market for 18ct. gold which, as Assay Office figures show, has risen dramatically in recent months with a 14.3% increase in 18ct. articles being hallmarked as opposed to a 10.7% drop in 9ct. during the period April to June 2002.

The debate gave those present the opportunity to hear how the current move towards 18ct. gold has affected the very different businesses of those who spoke. Stella Dorsett told her audience that Cookson has seen a substantial rise in demand for its 18ct products, especially 18ct. sheet, wire and wedding ring blanks and in response has recently launched some 203 new 18ct. products.

Jonathan Lambert told how M & M has successfully changed the production of an entire range from 9ct. to 18ct. gold and how it now sells solely 18ct. in one of its retail outlets. John Henn explained how, in order to compete with the many non-traditional suppliers coming into the jewellery market, T A Henn has ‘climbed up the expensive ladder’ to offer a larger range of higher value stock.

For Simon Harrison design is the key to success and he sees the best quality materials, 18ct. gold included, as being an essential element in adding value and giving jewellery its meaning and purpose.

Speaking after the event, Allyson Thomas, director of Emagold member T A Durant, said: “In staging this debate we wanted to expunge some of the myths and point out some of the plus points of trading up to quality jewellery. It was a lively debate and I hope very much that it has increased awareness of Emagold’s aims and the very real benefits to both manufacturers and retailers of adding value with 18ct. gold.”

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