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High praise for the UKJA 2010 entries

The editorial team of managing editor Laura McCreddie, James Knowles and I have just come to the end of our judging visits for the UK Jewellery Awards, and it’s been pretty impressive viewing I can tell you.

I’d forgotten just how dynamic and exciting retail jewellers are in this industry. I often hear people talking about the poor standard of service and retailing in the UK, but anyone who had shadowed me during the past month would have been pretty convinced otherwise.

I started off with the multiples, completing my self-guided tour of the Westfield Centre to check out the ever-inspiring staff management capabilities and merchandising skills of Beaverbrooks, Fraser Hart and Goldsmiths, before heading up north to check out retail jeweller and pawnbroker Herbert Brown.

Herbert Brown impressed

Herbert Brown impressed

I felt like presenting a golden boot to the latter’s football-related incentive for staff. Shops are put into teams with one manager at head office, and they “play” each other to see who can hit a certain target over a set number of weeks – there are even half-time results. It’s a brilliant way of motivating staff and getting everyone into the spirit of the world’s biggest sporting event.

I then moved onto the independents to make a return visit to EC One in Notting Hill, which always gathers together such an impressive collection of designers that I just want to try everything on in the shop. I finished up by making my debut trip to Northampton to check out an ever-expanding empire of Steffans, which is not only growing outwards to take over neighbouring shops at a terrific pace (recession, what recession?) but is also growing its online site too.

My colleagues tell me the stores they have visited have been just as jawdroppingly good.

The various judging panels are going to reconvene in a couple of weeks to make their decisions, and I don’t envy them at all. It may sound like a cliché, but this is going to be one tough call in several, if not all, our categories.

This week is London Jewellery Week, and we’ll be trying to attend as many of the events as we can to keep you updated on the latest launches, lectures and of course parties. So look out for some more regular blogs from us all during the next few days.

Bye for now

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