20 March 2017
Earlier this month a large industry throng had gathered in the same opulent hall, with its gold leaf moulded ceiling, for the Goldsmiths’ Craft & Design Council Awards. And now here was an even greater host, waiting eagerly to acknowledge and celebrate a different set of achievements – this time those of the NAJ’s graduates.
In his opening address, the NAJ’s chairman, Simon Johnson, emphasised that the grandeur of the setting was a reflection of the importance of the occasion. “Revel in your achievement,” he urged the students – many of whom were there with colleagues, family and friends. “But don’t forget that your educational journey doesn’t have to stop here,” he added, going on to outline further courses that are open to those wanted to further their knowledge. “Leaners are earners,” was his wise parting shot.
Seated with Simon Johnson on the top table of the Awards was NAJ president Patrick Fuller (whose happy role was to bestow the certificates); Heather Calloway (chair of the Education Steering Group); director of education, Kate Madelin and NAJ CEO Michael Rawlinson. As well as talking a little about the Association’s new strategies and developments for its courses, Rawlinson was keen to acknowledge the invaluable support given to students by various tutors and advisors. He was especially happy to give thanks, and a gift, to one person in particular – Anne Kings, who has been marking exams and contributing to the writing of JET courses for 25 years.
It was then left to Chris Garland, MD of Bransom Retail Systems, to introduce the most recent winners of the Bransom Awards – given to those who has the best JET1 projects for the 12 months of 2016 and then the main event: the handing over of the Professional Jewellers’ Diplomas. Once again Beaverbrooks the Jewellers took the (unofficial) prize for the most number of graduates – 19 in all! But many other stores could boast multiple staff acjievements, including: Goldsmiths, Allum & Sidaway, Chisholm Hunt, Swag, Ernest Jones, Mappin & Webb, Parkhouse and Boodles.
The Professional Jewellers’ Diploma is just the beginning of – the NAJ has a range of professional development courses and the Awards recognised all those who had taken the natural next step. As well as 17 new Fellows of the Institute of Registered Valuers, this year saw 29 graduates – a record number – come forward to accept their Certificate of Appraisal Theory (CAT) certificates. Recipients had travelled from as far afield as Truro and Harrogate for the event, but none further than Karina Sena who flew in to London from Salvador in Brazil.
A valuer, jewellery designer and gemmologist in her family business (as well as president of Progemas, the gems and jewellery association in the Brazilian state of Bahia), Sena learned about the IRV and CAT online. “Once I knew that it was related to the NAJ I knew it would be a course that I could rely on,” she told us after receiving her award. “There is nothing like IRV or CAT in Brazil, and we have such a big potential. Achieving CAT was crucial for me and my business; I'm looking forward to being a pioneer in this field back home.”
There is no denying the pride and excitement felt by each and every student as they step onto the stage to collect their certificate. But every year there is always one person in particular who has every right to be smiling more broadly than others – the recipient of the prestigious Greenough Trophy. This mark of recognition for skill, dedication and hard work is presented to the student who achieves the highest aggregate marks, having completed the most outstanding project in the Professional Jewellers’ Diploma.
This year it was Victoria Dobie from GS Milton, St Helens, who carried off the coveted award. Her name joins all previous recipients engraved upon the beautiful trophy that was first awarded in 1946.
Described by her tutor, Mark Houghton, as “a model student”, Victoria was the Bransom Award winner for September 2015 – an impressive achievement, given that she had been working in the industry for just eight months at that point. “Victoria demonstrated practical, hands-on attitude in the outstanding answer to her project,” offered the moderator Eddie Stanley. “She also showed excellent customer care skills. Progressing onto the Professional Jewellers’ Diploma Course is something I am sure she would enjoy and benefit from.”
Prescient words as it turns out! “I am so proud to receive the award – it is such an honour. It is my biggest achievement and means so much,” Victoria told The Jeweller. “While completing JET2 I was diagnosed with a chronic illness and I recently lost my dad, but I know he would have been very proud of me – just as he was when I won the Branson Award.
“I’ve gained so much from doing the course – particularly confidence. When I completed JET1 I wasn't confident sure I could do JET2, I used to doubt myself, but the NAJ’s Mandy Kelly encouraged me to carry on. This and the Branson Award haven given me a big boost.”
The National Association of Jewellers
Head Office: Federation House
10 Vyse Street
Birmingham, B18 6LT, UK
London Office: 45 Britton Street, London EC1M 5NA