Director, Jewellery Services
How do you think the industry has progressed or advanced in the past year?
These past 12 months have been somewhat stagnant. Most businesses I feel have been through significant change during COVID and are now finding what a new normal looks like, in saying that, there are still advancements, significant acquisitions and even new brands from major playing coming to market.
What are the biggest issues or challenges the industry should tackle in 2024?
Most people will mention lab diamonds as one of the largest challenges/opportunities for 2024, however, I would argue that skilled labour will become a significant challenge for many businesses in 2024.
Two things are at play here, most countries are experiencing record-low unemployment, driven mostly by COVID [policies] but also by customer demand. The second, and in my opinion the most important, is the lack of industry support to foster and train the next generation of jewellers, setters and industry leaders. The industry [must] come together to create, grow and develop new talent to ensure skilled labour does not become a bottleneck for success.
As the director of Jewellery Services, what strategies and innovative approaches have you employed in 2023 to enhance the efficiency and quality of jewellery repairs and custom designs, and what exciting developments can customers and the industry anticipate in 2024?
For Jewellery Services, 2023 has been a year of investment. People and systems are the two areas we have focused on. For people, we have increased our total staff count by around ten percent and continued to develop our teams. We have a growing base of apprentices, we also invested in additional setting benches are microscopes and are bringing up team members to be capable of doing production level setting.
For systems, we recently launched our trade portal, which gives our trade clients 24/7 access to their jobs and includes live data such as photos, item details and jeweller’s comments along with all service and billing lines. Our portal will continue to be developed into 2024 and allow customers to use it as a full in-store repair/service platform.
Can you discuss the importance of customer feedback and how Jewellery Services uses it to continually improve and adapt to evolving customer preferences and needs?
Customer feedback in any business should be paramount and Jewellery Services is no exception. Due to our large scale, we receive constant feedback from our customers on what we do well or could do better, this feedback directly drives our investment and areas of focus.
We have been lucky enough to obtain high levels of certification from some of the world’s most prestigious jewellery brands and this gives us confidence we are on the right path however you should never stand still.
Sustainability is a growing concern in the jewellery industry. How does Jewellery Services approach sustainability in its operations, and what sustainable practices or materials have been integrated into your workshop’s processes for the upcoming year?
We have been conscious of sustainable practices for some time, so this isn’t really ‘new news’ to us. We have strict processes around the collection of scrap which is all refined locally and recycled into new metal. We have done significant work on our supplier base to ensure we know where our product is coming from, this has resulted in us not using some suppliers moving forward.
The jewellery industry often relies on advanced technology and tools. How does Jewellery Services leverage digital tools and techniques to streamline operations and deliver top-quality results, and what technological advancements do you plan to explore in 2024?
We are actively exploring how 3D printing can be introduced into our workflows, especially in bespoke or custom design. We often create technical drawings for clients to approve before production, 3D models can give the ultimate assurance to customers that they are comfortable with what they are getting, along with high-quality renders such as photos or video.
The challenge of a trade workshop is how to handle volume, we service over 100,000 jobs per annum and our focus will always be on how we can remove bottlenecks and process the jobs faster. A saving of one minute per job might not sound like much, but that is over 200 days of labour for one person saved, almost a full-time person. Our new trade portal is already showing us savings across labour hours with reduced email/phone calls and has allowed for some automation in quote responses.