UK Sector Roundtable Meeting with Shadow DCMS


UK Jewellery, Silverware and Allied Crafts sector meet with MP

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On Thursday the 8th February Benchpeg was privileged and honoured to attend, with 23 other senior leaders representing the UK Jewellery, Silverware and Allied Crafts sector, a roundtable discussion with meeting Sir Chris Bryant MP, Shadow Minister for the DCMS (Department for Digital, Culture, Media & Sport) who was on a fact finding mission to learn more about our sector.

Facilitated by The National Association of Jewellers, and ably Chaired by CEO Ben Massey, the 24 seats around the table demonstrated the myriad of specialisms which the sector is made up of.

Selected individuals gave presentations to Mr Bryant MP on business, education, training and sector specific challenges the industry faces.

Harriet Kelsall represented SME and Micro creative businesses talking on the costs to do creative business; Emmet Cummins CEO of the Company of Master Jewellers spoke about the retail environment and investment needed in digital channels for retailers; John Ball CEO of Brown and Newirth spoke on point about innovation and R&D support including Super Tax Deduction.

There was a lively discussion on education and training, with industry consultant Karin Paynter talking about Pathways to Professional Careers, with Peter Crump, of VIPA Designs pushing the point home about having trade and industry relevant courses and the lack of skilled manufacturing talent entering the sector. Chris Oliver, Head of Training at the Goldsmiths' Centre spoke about what the Centre provided in terms of Apprenticeships and Vocational Training.

Raluca Anghel representing the Natural Diamond Council spoke about compliance, sustainability, greenwashing and the need for more regulation. Noel Hunter, Chair of the British Hallmarking Council spoke about the place hallmarking had in the sector today and the impact on consumer confidence, whilst Joanna Hardy, expert industry consultant and Trade Warden of The Goldsmiths' Company spoke to the complex area of lab grown diamonds and the issues around lack of consumer knowledge and challenges this created around natural diamonds and the impact this was having on the sector.

The importance of sector specific and tailor led business support was explained by independent business consultant Sally Leonard who also represented CENTA, whilst this was followed by registered valuer Heather Callaway, Chair of the National Association of Jewellers, who explained the complex issue of security within the sector and the ramifications this had industry wide.

Rebecca van Rooijen, Founder of Benchpeg spoke for two minutes on the ecology of the trade using the adage she has long used throughout the pages of Benchpeg, that “a ring passes through many hands” explaining that these different hands represent a highly specialised workforce, processes and service provision as well as the business function which underpins this. She then outlined how existing datasets collected by HMRC and used by the ONS (Office of National Statistics) underrepresent and undervalue the GVA (Gross Value Added) of the sector as part of the Creative Industries under the Department for Culture, Media and Sport and the broader UK economy.

The opportunity for the sector to present the very different areas of the craft and industry and the challenges the sector faces within governmental policy context and business mechanisms was invaluable.

Sir Chris Bryant was actively engaged and asked plenty of questions, showing that he wanted to grasp understanding of the issues presented.

Annie Warburton, newly appointed CEO and first ever female Clerk of the Goldsmiths' Company spoke with eloquence to overview the challenges into three main points, whilst Adam Jacobs, who has been fundamental to the meeting, process and conversation with government rounded off the morning.

It was a wholly positive meeting.

Benchpeg looks forward very much to building on the momentum created by this newly democratised sector collaboration for further representation to government.

Also in attendance were David Troostwyk, incoming President of the London Diamond Bourse; James Trevett representing Weston Beamor; Karine Lepeuple, Deputy Director of the Goldsmiths’ Centre; Marie Garnett, Head of Education at the NAJ; Rebecca Skeels, Head of Jewellery Courses at the School of Jewellery, Birmingham; Lisa Levinson of the Natural Diamond Council; Sally Dodson, Director of the Hand Engravers Association, independent maker Darren Sherwood; Benjamin James Ryan, silversmith and Danila Tarcinale representing the IPG. All attendees contributed to the roundtable discussion and added valuable examples and illustrative points.


Rebecca van Rooijen


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