Calling all entrepreneurs - IJL launch industry hunt for the extraordinary

14 Apr 2014

International Jewellery London have announced the launch of a prestigious new industry award designed to identify entrepreneurs in the jewellery industry – Jewellery Entrepreneur of the Year Award.

A first for the industry, this initiative will reward an individual who has demonstrated entrepreneurial flair in developing a business with the potential to grow into a profitable and exciting addition to the UK jewellery industry. Entrants will be invited to pitch their ideas 'Dragon Den's' style, to an impressive panel of key industry players in the Lion’s Lair at IJL 2014, which will be chaired by star entrepreneur, John Ayton. There are no restrictions on applications which may involve the development or exploitation of a specific product, design, service new technology or simply an innovative idea supported by a business plan demonstrating its potential to become a significant force in the industry. Jewellers are no strangers to the popular TV programme Dragons Den with both Elisabeth Galton and Hot Pink finding success on the show.

Sam Willoughby, Event Director comments: "The UK jewellery industry is one of the most exciting and creative jewellery markets in the world, excelling in innovation. We are always looking at ways of supporting and promoting the industry and when we came up with this idea, it struck us that this is a fantastic way of recognising and rewarding those clever entrepreneurs who we know are out there but perhaps in need of additional support. I am not alone in thinking it is an initiative with considerable promise and am delighted that some really authoritative industry leaders have joined the judging panel".

Meet some of the Lions …

The judging panel includes familiar names from retailing, design and academia – who between them represent the widest knowledge and experience across the industry and are uniquely qualified to select a winner:

  • John Ayton MBE – Chairman of the Bremont Watch Company and Annoushka, Co-Founder and former owner of Links of London
  • Stuart Laing – CEO of the Houlden Group and Laing’s of Glasgow
  • Melanie Wakefield – Director, Wakefields of Horsham
  • John Ball – Director, Brown & Newirth
  • Andrew Morton – Managing Director, Domino Jewellery
  • Peter Taylor – Director, Goldsmiths Centre
  • Lee Lucas - Principal of The Holts Academy of Jewellery
  • Kathryn Bishop - Editor of Professional Jeweller Magazine
  • Sam Willoughby - Event Director IJL

The Lions Roar …

John Ball, Director Brown & Newirth:

“As a big supporter of highlighting new and existing talent within the Jewellery industry, I am personally delighted to have been asked to sit on the panel for the inaugural “Entrepreneur of the Year award” 2014, organised by IJL. The Jewellery industry should consider it our collective responsibility to ensure that we discover, mentor and develop talent here in the UK and it's really good to see IJL investing and supporting the industry in this way. With design, innovation and branding all important in today’s market, the panel will offer this year’s ‘Entrepreneur of the Year’ the mentorship and benefit of our experience to help them succeed in their respective field, a challenge that I was very happy to be invited by IJL to be part of”.

Melanie Wakefield, Wakefields Jewellers:

"The UK jewellery industry could be considered traditional, and a difficult market to break into. We, as an industry, should be giving a guiding hand to those who show talent, a willingness to take a risk and an entrepreneurial spirit. These are the sort of people who, years ago, built this industry to what we know today. We, with our knowledge and experience can nurture individuals that have passion and a desire to succeed".

Stuart Laing, CEO of the Houlden Group and Laing’s of Glasgow:

"This is a great project and I am looking forward to helping find a budding entrepreneur who has a brilliant idea but needs a helping hand to develop it further. There are a number of awards around but I think this one stands out as it fulfils a niche within the industry to find the business talent of the future".

The prize

The winner of the award will receive a stand and promotional package worth up to £7000 at IJL 2015; this will help them in furthering their business and ensuring that it becomes a leading light in the jewellery industry. They will also be mentored for a period of twelve months by an appropriate figure in the industry.

How to enter

Entrants need to apply online at by Friday the 30th May. A shortlist of four entrepreneurs will be selected and invited to pitch to the Lions Lair, in the Inspiration Seminar Theatre at IJL on Tuesday the 2nd September. They will each have ten minutes each to present their idea /business to the panel of judges and will then answer the judges questions. There will also be a live audience who can vote, but the judges’ decision will be final and announced live at the end of the Lion’s Lair.


IJL 2014 will run from 31 August to 2 September 2014 at Olympia, London. LUXURY by IJL, The Ultimate in Luxury Jewellery, will run from 31 August to 1 September in the Pillar Hall at Olympia, London.

For more information about IJL and LUXURY by IJL, please contact: Jennifer Hall-Thompson or Suzanna Hammond +44 (0) 207 630 6633 / +44 (0) 7944 860 839

About International Jewellery London

International Jewellery London is your only dedicated UK jewellery trade event, unveiling the latest inspiring collections, contemporary and classic.

IJL celebrates the most talented, innovative British and International jewellery designers, wholesalers and manufacturers.

International Jewellery London takes place at Olympia, London from 31 August – 2 September 2014. For further information please visit

IJL is sponsored by the NAG & BJA and supported by the GIA, Gem-A, The Houlden Group, The Company of Master Jewellers, Platinum Guild International, The Responsible Jewellery Council and CIBJO.

About Reed Exhibitions

Reed Exhibitions is the world’s leading events organizer, with over 500 events in 39 countries. In 2011 Reed brought together six million active event participants from around the world generating billions of dollars in business. Today Reed events are held throughout the Americas, Europe, the Middle East, Asia Pacific and Africa and organized by 33 fully staffed offices. Reed Exhibitions serves 44 industry sectors with trade and consumer events and is part of the Reed Elsevier Group plc, a world-leading publisher and information provider and a FTSE 100 company.  

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