Desma Noble – Industry Forum 2024

Desma Noble, President of the GSGA gives her insights into the successes and challenges of 2023 with hopes for the 2024 year.

Written by Jewellery World

Desma Noble
President, Gold and Silversmith’s Guild of Australia

Can you highlight your organisation’s involvement in trade fairs, conferences, or workshops in 2023 and what knowledge-sharing and educational events you have planned for 2024?

Having a presence at both the Sydney and Melbourne Jewellery Industry Fairs in 2023 gave the Gold and Silversmith’s Guild of Australia (GSGA) the opportunity to connect with many jewellers and industry organisations to increase awareness of the benefits of the Guild’s marking system for Australian-made jewellery. In 2024, the [Guild aims] to continue to connect with and support Australian jewellery makers, then to connect with the Australian public, to share the same messages of assurance and support Australian-made.

Can you share some memorable moments or milestones from 2023 and how they have contributed to the Guild’s success in upholding industry standards?

The year 2023 began with the induction of a new, bigger-than-ever National Council for the Gold and Silversmith’s Guild of Australia. With renewed enthusiasm, this motivated team have a positive focus on the future of jewellery-making in Australia and the Guild’s goals.

My personal highlight was [presenting] the Tony Kean Award to Debbie Sheezel. Debbie achieved incredible international success as a specialist in enamelled jewellery but is also an adored and highly regarded part of the Guild’s story and family, as well as a mentor and personal friend. This Award is a perpetual trophy presented only occasionally to an individual who has demonstrated an outstanding contribution to the benefit of the jewellery industry in Australia. Debbie and her remarkable achievements were celebrated by Guild members and the broader industry. Sadly, we said goodbye to Debbie all too soon afterwards, so we will all treasure the memory of this occasion.

How does the GSGA collaborate with industry stakeholders, government bodies, and educational institutions to ensure the highest standards and ethical practices in the precious metals sector?

As a peak industry body representing Australian jewellery makers, The GSGA is often called upon to provide support or feedback to other sectors influencing our industry. Some examples of this include the considerable work the Guild has done to ensure the Continuance of Australian Standards for Precious Metals, lobbying for government-funded training, advocacy for training institutions and sponsoring awards to students, fielding public enquiries to accurately trace the provenance of family collectables where possible.

Each jeweller who is a Fellow of the GSGA has their individual makers’ mark struck onto the Guild’s fine silver ‘Touchplates’ that are archived for perpetuity. These are also known as ‘accountability’ marks, and upon acceptance as a member, each of us [commits] to abide by the Australian Standards for metal purity, AS2140-2008, as well as taking personal responsibility that the item was made in Australia to a suitable standard. 

Transparency in the jewellery industry is becoming increasingly important. How does the GSGA work to ensure that consumers can trust the provenance of the precious metal items, and what efforts are being made to strengthen this trust further in 2024?

Assurance of accountability and provenance are the very foundations underpinning the Marking system established by the GSGA. As Australia has no legislated statutory body for the purpose of compulsory enforcement of metal standards, jewellery makers are increasingly seeking the accountability associated with the Guild Mark to provide this assurance for the consumer.

There are three marks used by every Fellow of the GSGA to show metal purity and provenance:

The Maker’s Mark: each is unique and archived on the Guild’s ‘Touchplates.’ Only jewellery that is made in Australia can be registered as Fellows of the GSGA. This distinctive identifying mark is also known historically as an ‘accountability’ mark.

The Metal Purity Mark: shown in parts per thousand has an outer border that denotes which elemental metal group.  All members are bound to abide by the metal standards laid out by Australian standards for precious metals 2140-2008.

The Guild Mark: This is the iconic Kangaroo head which is trademarked and can only be used by Fellows of the Guild. This mark is your guarantee the work is made in Australia under the strict supervision of the individual maker (Fellow) who takes responsibility for the standard of materials and workmanship.

The Date Mark: This is the fourth mark in the set. It corresponds to the mark used by The Worshipful Company of Goldsmiths in Britain, and while it remains optional, it can be a valuable addition to trace the story of a Jewellery item.

The steps to a jeweller being accepted as a Fellow of the GSGA include submission of work, training and professional references to vouch for competency, integrity and professionalism.  The process ensures that the Guild mark continues to [assure] the industry and consumers alike.

The GSGA plays a pivotal role in upholding the quality and authenticity of Australian-made jewellery. What strategies or initiatives has the Guild implemented in 2023 to advance its mission, and what exciting developments can we anticipate in 2024 to further promote this?

The Guild has recently updated and simplified its online application process and membership database. The process is now far less daunting and more user-friendly for Australian jewellers to join as Fellows or Affiliates of the GSGA.  We want Australian jewellers to know the Guild is accessible and welcoming without diluting the core commitment to the standards.

The increasing desire for consumers to own ‘Australian-made’ and ‘hand-made’ jewellery places greater importance on the point of difference the Guild mark offers.  Sharing this message [with] makers and the discerning consumer, as well as supporting the jewellery industry in Australia is our focus for 2024.

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