Entrepreneur and former jewellery business owner, Rex Ekaireb said of the jewellery market: “The UK’s jewellery market over the years has experienced many changes and has had to overcome huge competition from around the world. Coronavirus has been one of the biggest challenges the entire UK and wider world have faced, let alone just one industry…”

Rex Ekaireb continued: “…the UK and particularly Hatton Garden in London continue to be world-renowned wen it comes to jewellery and the pandemic is unlikely to change that…”

Lockdowns have occurred around the globe, resulting in the shut-down to numerous different businesses and subsequently a push for industries to innovate their operations in line this “new normal” landscape.

The UK jewellery market has experienced drastic changes throughout the past few months. The country’s lockdown, and other COVID-related safety measures, have had transformative effects on various different stages of the business’s supply chain, from mining right through to the selling of specially crafted pieces.

Guidelines for Non-Essential Retail

Government guidance has played a key role in helping the UK’s jewellery market get back on its feet after the pandemic hit and safety measures were implemented, releasing guidelines during the lockdown on how to operate once restrictions had lifted. Part of this guidance included a document aimed specifically for “shops and branches,” of which jewellery retailers can be classed under, that advised measurements these businesses should take when planning to reopen after lockdown.

“This document is to help employers, employees and the self-employed in the UK understand how to work safely during the COVID-19 pandemic…We hope it gives you freedom within a practical framework to think about what you need to do to continue, or restart, operations during the COVID-19 pandemic.” The document claims.

Some of the measurements jewellers were encouraged to carry out in order to prepare, and thereby cope, through the coronavirus pandemic included the following:

Risk assessment – Arguably the most vital component for jewellery businesses operating throughout the coronavirus pandemic, guidance dubbed risk assessment as absolutely essential in preparing for a safe reopening after lockdown measures eased.

In order to safely prepare for operating within the new environment, employers were encouraged to assess the COVID-related risks their staff faced daily whilst at work, and take practical, preventative measures to help minimise these risks.

Remote working –Jewellery businesses, like many others in the retail industry, were also encouraged to evaluate who could and who could not carry on working from home. Whilst preparing to emerge from lockdown, people were urged to work from home unless it was impossible to do so.

Therefore, one integral consideration jewellers had when preparing to open back up was to establish who out of their staff they could keep working from home, and who absolutely needed to come back to work on the premises; keeping this at the minimum amount to operate the store both safely and effectively.

Changes to shop layout – Guidance also suggested that physical changes should be made to stores, helping the businesses to practice safety measures that reduce the risk of spreading COVID-19, including social distancing, assessing cleaning procedures, and wearing personal protective equipment (PPE).

Rex Ekaireb commented on the changes to the retail market: “When it comes to retail, the market has been affected in so many ways. A forgotten part of the industry is landlords and tenants in the traditional sense. Many business tenants have not been able to pay their rent and this has had knock-on effects for the landlords…”

Ekaireb continued saying: “…when a tenant cant pay, the landlord doesn’t necessarily turn to eviction notices and legal channels, but financially, the impact will be felt by everyone from the landlord to the UK economy, losing out on vital tax revenue at this crucial time.”

The Future of the Market

There have been a whole host of different ways the UK’s jewellery market has had to adapt in order to cope through coronavirus, restructuring many different facets of their operations to ensure the safety, and longevity for their businesses (source: Playfair Capital).

For now, operations continue, as the industry, like many others, acclimatize to this new way of running things. However, whether the market will carry on managing the new environment in this way, much like the future impacts of the pandemic itself, is yet to be determined.