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Last month on Jewellermagazine.com I made what I considered to be a relatively harmless and inoffensive call for young people in the jewellery industry to unite and form a new group. | Source: Adobe Stock
Last month on Jewellermagazine.com I made what I considered to be a relatively harmless and inoffensive call for young people in the jewellery industry to unite and form a new group. | Source: Adobe Stock

A group to unite – not divide

Last month on Jewellermagazine.com I made what I considered to be a relatively harmless and inoffensive call for young people in the jewellery industry to unite and form a new group.  I figured I would get a few responses from people offering to join and/or help establish such a group, and I thought I might get a few suggestions as to how the group could take shape.

Overall, the great majority of the feedback was positive, coming mainly from younger people who liked the idea and wished to be a part of it. There were also quite a few offers of help from self-professed “older” industry people. The more the merrier, I say.

But what struck me as most odd – no, very weird – were some of the angry replies attacking my suggestion. Don’t get me wrong, I am used to receiving reader emails, letters and phone calls disagreeing with my opinion; after all, I pride myself on provoking people to think. And it doesn’t bother me that I get regular emails from some of the industry nutters – most of which cannot be published!

Indeed, one or two regularly contact me telling me how much they dislike and loathe my opinions and stories; the amusing thing is that they continually read them (one has even taken to sending me abusive Christmas cards every year, but hey, he still reads the magazine religiously!).

Aside from these fruitcakes – all industries have them – the most obvious misguided criticism was about the potential for another association, which might split the industry. I say “misguided” because I had anticipated this reaction, and I had stated in my original message (quite clearly, I thought): “It need not be a formal association; it could simply begin as an informal group, perhaps under the banner YJA – Young Jewellers Australia.”

"The idea was for a group that is not just about apprentices, but about all young people who work in, and for, the many sectors of the jewellery industry."

Another misunderstanding was the interpretation of the group as being exclusively for “jewellers” or tradespeople. My call was for young Aussies (and Kiwis) in all sectors of the jewellery industry to come together; retail sales staff networking with young people working for jewellery suppliers, and for young suppliers to meet young jewellery designers, and so on.

Therefore, the idea was for a group that is not just about apprentices, but about all young people who work in, and for, the many sectors of the jewellery industry.

As I suspected before I wrote the story, what materialised in many (unpublished) emails was evidence of the “disconnect” people felt between the two generations.

One person wrote, “The perception of [older] jewellers is that we [young people] are only interested in making $$. We can show people that there are fresh new faces coming into the jewellery industry.”

Another respondent explained that they were often frustrated when working for “old hands” in the industry. “Many industry veterans are insecure about our changing times, and consequently stifle young, energetic staff members who embrace these changes.”

One said that they cannot identify with the JAA, which is probably not surprising given that the association’s own research shows that 54 per cent of JAA members are 45 or older, 21 per cent were between 56 and 65 and that there are no members under 25.

Another email stated, “The JAA has become somewhat older in later years and does not really seem to look at the younger jewellers.” There were other unfavourable comments about the JAA being old-fashioned.

Regardless of all the politics, and with over 40 responses to my call-out, we are going to give it a shot. My aim is to put all those who responded in contact with each other to facilitate a meeting at the Sydney fair in August with a view to a new, informal group being established.

Was it Chairman Mao or Confucius who said, “A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step”?

As always, feedback, comments, criticism and even vitriolic tirades are most welcome ... though you might like to save on the Christmas cards, I’m an atheist!











ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Coleby Nicholson

Former Publisher • Jeweller Magazine


Coleby Nicholson launched Jeweller in 1996 and was also publisher and managing editor from 2006 to 2019. He has covered the jewellery industry for more than 20 years and specialises in business-to-business aspects of the industry.

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