INTERVIEW – UK Jewellery Festival, on March 21-22 in London, to offer best-selling lines and collections for retailers’ shelves

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The UK Jewellery Festival, which will take place in London on March 21-22, 2024, will gather suppliers, brands and service providers who can contribute towards retailers’ shelves, with best-selling lines, bridal jewellery, engagement ring collections, and other commercial product categories, Retail Jeweller’s Acting Editor Sarah Jordan tells Jewellery Outlook Editor David Brough.

What variety of goods will be on offer at the UK Jewellery Festival? What type of visitors is the show looking to attract?

The UK Jewellery Festival is diverse in terms of the brands and suppliers who are exhibiting and the visitors we anticipate will attend.

We put a lot of emphasis on this range and variety, as we are committed to creating a ‘Festival’ environment and a meeting place for the trade to network, conduct business and catch up on the latest events.

This year, we have bridal jewellery suppliers, fine jewellers, fashion jewellery brands and service suppliers in attendance, with notable names including but not limited to: ChloBo, Curteis, Hockley Mint, the London Diamond Bourse, the Gemological Institute of America (GIA), Ntinga, the National Association of Jewellers, Sif Jakobs, and Wedds & Co.

In terms of visitors, our 2023 event was the first time that we opened the doors of the UK Jewellery Festival wider to accommodate non-retailers and buyers, such as independent designers, trade professionals, and emerging talent.

Again, this ties into the UK Jewellery Festival ethos of being a gathering place for the trade at-large. Plus, with our great content programme, more people now have a chance to engage with our guest speakers and participate in conversations and debates that are relevant to the trade today.

INTERVIEW – UK Jewellery Festival, on March 21-22 in London, to offer best-selling lines and collections for retailers’ shelves

Sarah Jordan, Acting Editor, Retail Jeweller

Is the show expanding? Will there be some new exhibitors in March?

The dateline of the UK Jewellery Festival changed from September in 2023 to March in 2024.

As a trade publication, Retail Jeweller’s goal is to support the entire industry and adapt to whatever the industry throws at us.

With so many events and shows taking place in September, this month was becoming competitive and unmanageable for many professionals in our audience.

We would never want to make the working lives of our readers more difficult, rather than easier! Therefore, a decision was made to move to March and provide the jewellery and watch sector with another distinctive buying opportunity at a key time of year, the spring.

Upon announcing this change, our managing editor Ruth Faulkner said: “As the UK’s leading jewellery and watch trade title and organisers of the UK Jewellery Festival, we feel it is our responsibility to provide the industry with the best possible event at a time of year which suits all of our valued customers and visitors.

“With September having become such a crowded space for events, we feel that the UK Jewellery Festival will find a natural home in March, in the first quarter of the year when there is no other dedicated jewellery and watch trade show for the entire industry, and we look forward to welcoming visitors in 2024.”

Despite this change, we anticipate a similarly sized show in March 2024 compared to our previous addition.

INTERVIEW – UK Jewellery Festival, on March 21-22 in London, to offer best-selling lines and collections for retailers’ shelves

We are pleased to have many returning exhibitors, in addition to new names such as Amore, Clarity Jewellery, Herbert Marx, Laurel Jewellery, Nelson Jewellery Arts, Sierra Consultancy, Vulcan and VM & Events.

Will the UK Jewellery Festival be a showcase for jewellery design trends? Will the show communicate upcoming trends in a seminar programme?

The UK Jewellery Festival is certainly a platform for brands and suppliers to present their latest collections, so in that sense it is a helpful way of assessing the latest trends. Our goal isn’t to be the leader of the pack in terms of experimental or fashion-forward trends.

Rather, we focus on bringing suppliers, brands and service providers together who can contribute towards retailers’ shelves right now, with best-selling lines, bridal jewellery, engagement ring collections, and other commercial product categories that bolster their businesses.

Despite this, we have integrated trends into the UK Jewellery Festival Content Programme in our own trade-orientated way. On Day One of the Festival, journalist and author Rachael Taylor will present a session titled “The Jewellery Business Trends Shaping 2024” from 12 PM to 12.45 PM. Rachael will cover key design trends, evolving shopping habits and the most important strategic business developments happening within the jewellery trade, thereby giving visiting buyers and retailers an overview of the market right now. I predict that visitors will walk away from this session feeling informed and inspired.

INTERVIEW – UK Jewellery Festival, on March 21-22 in London, to offer best-selling lines and collections for retailers’ shelves

What makes the UK Jewellery Festival a “must-attend” event for retail and wholesale buyers?

Retail Jeweller has a history of hosting fantastic events, whether that’s our annual Inspiring Independents luncheon, our Rising Stars 30 Under 30 networking breakfast or the UK Jewellery Awards.

The UK Jewellery Festival continues this high-quality approach to bespoke and boutique events, which put the needs of independent retailers and retail buyers at the forefront.

What makes the UK Jewellery Festival a ‘must attend’ event is its combination of features – a curated show floor, an insightful content programme, and the addition of our UK Jewellery Awards Shortlist Party – an annual event – which is now timed to coincide with Day One of the Festival.

Plus, we offering all our attendees and exhibitors free catering throughout both days to make their visit to us as seamless and enjoyable as possible. We appreciate that the landscape for jewellery sector events is competitive, which is why we focus on comfort, conversation, and a relaxed environment for doing business.

INTERVIEW – UK Jewellery Festival, on March 21-22 in London, to offer best-selling lines and collections for retailers’ shelves

What are the unique and special features of the upcoming show?

As mentioned, we will be hosting the UK Jewellery Awards Shortlist Party on the evening of Day One of the Festival. Typically, this is a standalone event that celebrates everyone who has been shortlisted for the UK Jewellery Awards, which will take place in June 2024.

However, by combining this cocktail party with the Festival, we can broaden its remit to allow more trade professionals to attend, thus amplifying the networking opportunities.

What are a few highlights of the seminar programme?

On Day One, we are really looking forward to welcoming the National Association of Jewellers’ JET Business Network and some of its retailer members to discuss fighting back against declining town centre footfall.

I know this is a topic of significant concern for many Retail Jeweller readers. We will also welcome The Jewellery Collective, led by Kassandra Lauren Gordon, to discuss brand growth strategies for emerging and established companies.

She has amassed a fantastic array of speakers, including Fay Cannings, the founder of eco-friendly designer-maker marketplace, Seekd.co.uk; small business consultant and founder of &Worn Studio, Rebecca Maddock; copywriter and digital marketing professional Ruby McGonigle, who currently works for Lebrusan Studio, and Sophie McKay, the founder and creative director of Bar Jewellery.

Also on Day One, Retail Jeweller managing editor Ruth Faulkner will be joined in conversation with Stuart Procter, chief operating officer of The Stafford Collection and Independent Hotelier of the Year 2022.

This conversation will delve into the world of 5-star service and high-end hospitality and will consider how retailers and brands can elevate their offering to provide consumers with unprecedented levels of excellence. This is sure to be a not-to-be-missed session that will give retailers plenty of food for thought.

On Day Two, we have two fantastic panel discussions: one is dedicated to laboratory-grown diamonds and asks if the ‘bubble has burst’ on this product category, while the other dives into sustainability and takes a closer look at the Retail Jeweller Sustainability Survey (both of consumers and retailers), which was featured in the March 2024 edition.

Both of these discussions will be powered by an expert panel of speakers, ranging from brand owners, manufacturers, diamond buyers, jewellery designers, consultants, and bullion suppliers, so I can imagine the conversations will be fascinating. After the success of similar topics in the 2023 Content Programme, we anticipate these sessions will be very engaging and well attended.

What opportunities will the show offer for networking? What are the networking benefits of the event?

The UK Jewellery Festival is a great opportunity for networking. We know from experience that jewellery is a sociable and connection-driven business that thrives off in-person trading. Our 2024 edition will follow the same tried-and-tested map of previous years, including free catering and drinks receptions, plus the UK Jewellery Awards Shortlist party and a VIP Platinum Pass lounge to provide even more informal opportunities to do business.

What is the significance of the timing of the show early in the year? Is this an ideal moment for retailers and wholesalers to restock?

In addition to what we have outlined above, I think it is worth noting that the spring has always been an important time for retailers.

January and February tend to be busy months with international events, such as Vicenzaoro, Inhorgenta and the Hong Kong shows, taking precedence. March is a month that has historically been underserved, so we are here to fill that niche and provide a destination event for the entire trade.

What kind of incentive programmes, if any, are available for buyers?

We have launched the UK Jewellery Festival VIP Platinum Pass for 2024, which gives selected independent retailers and trade professionals in the Retail Jeweller community the opportunity to attend the Festival with added perks.

The Platinum Pass offers a retreat within the Festival, featuring a dedicated lounge filled with refreshments for relaxation or private business meetings. Pass holders will be automatically approved to attend the UK Jewellery Festival once they’ve filled out a pre-registration form, which must be completed by each attendee for security purposes.

As an added benefit, all VIP Platinum Pass holders will be invited to attend the UK Jewellery Awards Shortlist Party on the evening of Thursday 21 March to celebrate excellence in the industry.

A dedicated link to register as a VIP Platinum Pass attendee has now been offered to all businesses featured in the Inspiring Independents 2023, including owners, store managers, buyers, and sales professionals. In addition, businesses shortlisted in all retail categories at the UK Jewellery Awards 2023, will also be eligible to attend as a VIP.

INTERVIEW – UK Jewellery Festival, on March 21-22 in London, to offer best-selling lines and collections for retailers’ shelves

What tips can you give visitors in terms of organising their accommodation and getting to and from the show?

In terms of organising accommodation and travelling to and from the Festival, this can be discussed with our events team, who are happy to provide advice and guidance. Importantly, our entire team is hyper aware of security in 2024, and we have made changes to the way we communicate about the Festival and the advice we provide our exhibitors and visitors.

Safe travel to and from the Festival is a high priority, especially considering the ongoing threats to travelling sales reps that the trade is experiencing right now.

My only advice would be to reach out to the team here at Retail Jeweller, speak to our event organisers, and plan your travel ahead of time. We are here to help.