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RJ Insights: The importance of awarding

Wednesday night (June 17) was something of a landmark, not only for me personally but also for Retail Jeweller. The first UK Jewellery Awards awards that I have overseen from start to finish, saw almost 700 of the jewellery and watch industry’s key players fill the Pavilion at the Tower of London for the 22nd annual awards ceremony.

This marked the largest number of people to attend any UK Jewellery Awards ceremony since 2009, and I am sure all of those in the room would agree with me when I say it was an absolutely spectacular evening and a fitting way to honour the hard work, dedication and commitment of every facet of the trade over the last 12 months.

Award ceremonies like this are not just important, they are vital – and that statement is not exclusive to the jewellery sector. It is right that every industry should honour and pay tribute to those who work tirelessly, day in, day out, to help make their particular trade even better. We are just extremely fortunate that in our industry we get to work with, produce and sell the most amazing and beautifully crafted products.

The UK Jewellery Awards has occupied a unique place in the industry over the last 22 years as the only awards for the industry, independently judged by the industry, and that makes winning one of these accolades all the more special.

While we rely on businesses to submit entries in the first round, this is simply because no one knows your business better than you do and we need to ensure we have as much information as possible about what you have been up to over the last 12 months before we proceed to the next stage of the process.

In the first round entries are shortlisted internally by the editorial team, who have read all of the submissions in detail before making a final decision. The shortlisted entries are then deliberated over by our independent and impartial judging panel, made up of some of the industry’s most important and well-respected figures (all of this year’s judges are listed below to give you a sense of the calibre of individuals we had making the decisions about the winners).

The judges were split into three teams, with those representing brands and suppliers given the job of judging the retail and etail categories, while the retail judges had the task of deliberating over the brand and supplier categories. A third team presided over the designer and new designer interviews.

This provided valuable insight into the shortlisted entries from people who have dealt with those businesses and, at the same time, also ensured that no one judged a category in which they had a vested interest.

In a further change this year – all shortlisted entries in the retail categories were subject to a rigorous mystery shop. Thanks to our mystery shopping partner Storecheckers, which also conducts all of the mystery shopping visits for the NAG, for its assistance in making this happen.

On the judging days, following intense discussion of all entries among the panel, all judges vote for the winner via a secret ballot so no one leaves the room knowing who has won and there is no chance of anyone influencing each other’s vote. Other than facilitating and overseeing the judging days, the Retail Jeweller team have no bearing on this vote or the eventual outcome.

With all of this in place, there can be no doubt that the judging process for these awards is rigorous, fair and robust and is the absolute best way of deciding on the eventual winners. All of those who walked away with awards on Wednesday should feel deservedly proud of their achievements, safe in the knowledge that this awards process is the best in the business.

Congratulations to all of our very deserving winners and shortlisted finalists. The competition this year was incredibly tough with a record number of entries received.

If the atmosphere in the room on Wednesday night proved anything, it was that this industry loves to celebrate its achievements and that is one of the things that makes it such a special place to work. Even direct competitors were congratulating one another on their wins and there was a real sense of togetherness, which you don’t always see in other trades.

This has been a landmark week for the UK jewellery trade with the news of the unification of the trade bodies and formation of the National Association of Jewellers. We have a real opportunity here to unite as an industry and show the UK consumer, and indeed the rest of the world, just what this industry is capable of.

I am looking forward to the next 12 months with a feeling of incredible optimism and I hope we can continue to support each other and celebrate our achievements.

Thanks to all our judges

Alison Skeates

Andrew Geoghegan

Andrew Hinds

Andrew Sollitt

Ben Roberts

Bruce Andrews

Danielle Fisher

Gary Wroe

Jason Holt

Jo Henderson

John Ball

Jonathan Pressley

Jos Skeates

Judith Lockwood

Julie Driscoll

Lindsey Straughton

Lucy Streatfield-Smith

Mark Robinson

Michael Rawlinson

Richard Oldroyd

Simon Johnson

Simon Rainer

Stuart Laing

Vanessa Burkitt

Victoria McKay

Willie Hamilton

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