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16 april 2024

In early April, a Forum of jewelry Craftsmanship was held in Yakutsk for the first time, and workshop sessions and competitions, lectures and meetings of scientific sections, presentations and excursions for guests were held during the forum.

The forum was organized by the North-Eastern Federal University named after M. K. Ammosov (NEFU). Lecturers, industry experts, representatives of ministries of the Republic of Sakha (Yakutia), deputies, and representatives of public organizations took part in the forum.

Varvara Dmitrieva, Associate Professor and Head of the Department of Precious Stones and Metals Processing Technologies (PSMPT) of the NEFU’s Institute of Physics and Technology, told Rough&Polished about the results of the forum and the prospects for the jewelry industry in the Republic of Sakha (Yakutia).

 

How and when did the idea of holding a jewelry forum in Yakutsk come up?

Professor Galina Parnikova, Head of the Department 360 project, came up with an idea of holding a forum as part of the NEFU’s participation in the Priority 2030 program, and it was dedicated to the 20th anniversary of the Department of PSMPT and the 90th anniversary of Professor I. I. Ivanov, the founder of the PSMPT specialty - field of specialization - and Honorary Worker of Higher Professional Education of the Russian Federation.

What goals and objectives were set for the event?

The purpose of the forum was to identify the vision and work out a strategy for the development of the jewelry industry as one of the directions for the development of the creative industry in Yakutia, as well as to discuss problems and issues of interaction and partnership between the NEFU’s Department of PSMP and jewelry enterprises and to improve the quality of education and the level of professional training of young specialists.

The objectives of the forum included as follows:

1. Considering the current state of the jewelry industry in the region. Assessing the impact of current economic trends on the prospects for the jewelry industry development.

2. Determining the main tasks and opportunities for partnership of the NEFU’s Department of PSMPT with employers.

3. Discussing the ideas aimed at popularizing the scientific knowledge when studying the historical experience and modern trends in the technology of materials’ processing art.

4. Stimulating the students’ research activities and identifying the most talented and intellectually gifted students.

5. Considering the strengthening of cooperation between institutions of higher and secondary specialized education.

The forum included:

• Workshop sessions on 3D modeling of jewelry, as well as on the use of technology for jewelry enameling art and on jewelry manufacture based on archaic designs of Yakut jewelry.

• Demonstration lectures on the impurities in natural rough diamond crystals; on the main trends in 2024 (M. Fedotova, PhD, Associate Professor); a lecture "Time to Search for Meaning Using the Jewelry of World and Russian Brands as Examples" (M. Kudrina, editor-in-chief of the JEWELRY GARDEN magazine); as well as a lecture on the methodology for studying and manufacturing the Yakut archaic jewelry of the 14th-18th centuries using the ancient jewelry pieces (lecturer A. Neustroeva).

• All-Russian scientific and practical conference "Design and Modern Technologies of Materials’ Processing Art".

• Strategic session - "Jewelers 360. Creative Industry"; the participants were divided into expert groups in the areas such as the development of competition, introduction of modern technologies, measures to support the development of the jewelry industry, and personnel training. A draft ‘road map’ was worked out for the strategic development of the jewelry industry as a way of developing the creative industry of the Republic of Sakha (Yakutia).

• Discussion panel on the problems and development of the jewelry industry, interaction and partnership between educational institutions and jewelry enterprises.

• Professional skills competition - "Diamond Cutters" - and the jewelry craftsmanship competition among educational institutions of the republic.

• Career portal with students: meeting with the graduates of the Department of PSMPT working in the jewelry industry.

• Festival of interactive Jewelry Art with an exhibition and sales of jewelry held to demonstrate a variety of styles, manufacturing techniques and textures offered by local jewelry companies and jewelry workshops, and meetings with craftsmen were organized.

• Exhibition of creative works by the students of the NEFU’s Department of PSMPT and the Department of Jewelry Design and Technologies of the Irkutsk National Research Technical University.

What are the main results of the forum?

Firstly, the results are the collaboration between educational institutions and jewelry companies, and a ‘road map’ for the development of the jewelry industry worked out jointly with diamond and jewelry companies, ministries and departments of the republic. The scientific exchange between representatives of industrial and educational organizations was arranged, as well as the scientific and educational contacts between the universities were established and the scientific and educational horizons became wider.

One of the main lines of the jewelry craftsmanship forum was the all-Russian scientific and practical conference "Design and Modern Technologies of Materials’ Processing Art".

The conference topics covered innovative technologies in jewelry industry, 3D modeling, modern prototyping techniques in jewelry design, gemology and artistic materials science, design and jewelry art.

The representatives of the Irkutsk National Research Technical University, the members of the Russian Forge Academy named after A. Zimin, the representatives of the Izhevsk State Technical University named after M. Kalashnikov, MIREA-Russian Technological University, Ural Federal University named after. B. Yeltsin, and other universities training the specialists in the Technology of Materials’ Processing Art (TMPA) were the participants in the conference.

The reports "Art and Non-Art. Cultural Aspects" presented by Maria Kruglova, President of the Union of Smiths of Russia, and "The Influence of Crafts and Folk Crafts on the Formation of a Cultural Code Using the Experience of the Sakha People" by Nikolai Burtsev-Bakhsy Uus, President of the Association of Blacksmiths and Metallurgists of the Republic of Sakha (Yakutia), were met with great interest.

More than 30 student-led research projects were presented at the panel sessions.

The reports and presentations showed the growing role of the specialty in the TMPA and the demand for graduates in all areas of industry. Thanks to the fairly broad range of topics discussed at the forum, the representatives of various schools and styles had the opportunity to share their knowledge in the technology of materials’ processing art.

How was the Department of Precious Stones and Metals Processing Technologies set up?

It so happened that the Yakut State University became the leader in Russia in this specialty. Training of personnel for cutting&polishing and jewelry manufacturing has since been carried out at the Institute of Physics and Technology’s Department of PSMPT. And this is an undoubted merit of the talented teacher and leader I. I. Ivanov, the initiator and founder of this specialty.

What are your responsibilities as the Head of the Department?

I have many responsibilities, including the elaboration of a strategy for the development of the department’s activities in training, building up and strengthening the foreign relations with employers and educational authorities, as well as the analysis of the market for educational services and labor concerning the training of specialists at the department. It’s also my work to improve the educational process, organize the interfaculty, interuniversity and international cooperation between the lecturers of the department, as well as to create conditions for training students to be professionals in the field of specialization they have chosen and to develop their independence, initiative, and creativity.

How is the Republic’s jewelry industry positioned in the country and the world in the current changing conditions? What is new and original in the jewelry industry?

In the country and the world, the Yakutia’s jewelry industry is distinguished by its creativity, its unique cultural code and the conservation of traditions in jewelry design and manufacture. The whole world knows about Yakutia, first of all, as a very cold region where diamonds are mined, and our region is traditionally associated with the Yakut diamonds. But we live in the world of information, and thanks to the Internet, many people have an idea about the Yakut traditional silver jewelry. This jewelry has a deep sacred meaning, a whole history of the people, and this uniqueness can be in demand in the world.

What are the main problems of the jewelry industry in the republic?

We have many jewelers who have achieved international recognition at world exhibitions. When you arrive in Yakutsk, you will be amazed at the diversity of the Yakutia’s jewelry. Just a few years ago, it was more difficult to find a grocery store in the center of the city than a jewelry store!

The challenges in the jewelry industry in the republic are connected primarily with general trends and the all-Russian situation in the jewelry industry. As for the local Yakut problems, in my opinion, they lie in the market potential and the ‘overheating’ of the market. After all, our region is rather remote and its territory is isolated, while the population of Yakutia is one million people only. You can understand how many people in the republic are potential polished diamond consumers, how great the demand for the diamond jewelry is. But the diamond manufacturers need to actively sell their goods; the jewelry pieces should constantly ‘move’ rather than lie on the shelves.

The development of the jewelry industry was hindered by the consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic, including the inability to hold exhibitions and take part in them, and the lack of orders had a negative impact on the jewelry companies’ sales. There are also difficulties in obtaining rough diamonds; although the Republic of Sakha (Yakutia) has its own diamond production, jewelry companies are forced to buy roughs in the central regions of Russia.

Our forum was aimed at working out a kind of ‘road map’ for the development of the jewelry industry jointly with government authorities, representatives of business, science and education in this region.

At the end of March, a decree "On the Development of Local Production and Tourism in the Republic of Sakha (Yakutia)" was issued by the Head of the Republic; according to the decree, the regional government should revive the cutting&polishing and jewelry manufacturing industries by 2030 with the development of the domestic market to increase the output by at least 7 times compared to 2023. I hope that this decree will give a powerful impetus to the development of our polishing and jewelry sectors. Therefore, the priority is to maintain and expand our own production and manufacture, increase the sales market, as well as to enter the global market. Our jewelry enterprises are ready to design and manufacture the national jewelry that has become quite a recognized brand.

In the mid-term, the full cycle of the diamond pipeline will probably be carried out in the Republic - from diamond mining to sales, thereby reviving the Yakut cutting&polishing school.

The Yakutia’s jewelry industry has not yet recovered from the COVID-19 pandemic. This is also explained by the significant changes that have been in Russia in this area since 2021, including the introduction of the State Integrated Information System in the control over the circulation of precious metals, precious stones and products from them at all stages of their circulation (GIIS PMPS), the loss of the right to apply simplified taxation system (STS) and patent system of taxation (PST) by jewelry enterprises, and other circumstances that also affected the general climate in the business.

These challenges and new market realities also affect our educational process. I give lectures on maintaining personal accounts to be submitted to the Federal Service for Financial Monitoring of the Russian Federation (Rosfinmonitoring), as well as lectures on GIIS PMPS. We must train personnel with relevant and wide competencies.

We see the jewelry industry transformation in the unification of creative entrepreneurs - having challenging and ingenious ideas - in designing their unique jewelry that is in demand on the market. Sometimes, the added value of jewelry increases several times thanks to a creative idea. The combination of various jewelry manufacturing techniques and one-of-a-kind designs sometimes create an original and innovative signature style that can be patented and used as a preferential credit instrument.

What part of the forum program was implemented best?

All the events planned were interesting and productive. It’s good that the invited participants of the strategic session very actively discussed all the declared subjects, including personnel training, government support measures, state-of-the art technologies and the development of competition in the jewelry industry.

We are sure that new editions of the forum will be held in future. According to the resolution adopted at the forum, the main measures for the jewelry industry development in the Republic of Sakha (Yakutia) are now being determined.

What plans for the future does the Department of PSMPT have?

- The future plans of the Department of PSMPT include:

Modernization of the educational process, in particular, the curriculum in training in the Technology of Materials’ Processing Art.

• Maximum focus on practice and involvement of employers as active stakeholders.

• Carrying out final qualifying works at the request of partner enterprises.

• Preparation of startup projects by students.

• Improving the quality of the educational process in engineering, technical and creative areas.

• Development of new scientific directions in interaction with employers.

• Development and research of new materials for 3D printers.

• Development of lost wax casting technology.

• Opening of the Museum of Jewelry and Art Works at the Department of PSMPT.

From the first year, the students of the department participate in the city, all-Russian and international exhibitions, festivals and competitions. The plans are to create a museum of jewelry and art works made by the department graduates.

It is known that the jewelry industry enjoys the government support in Yakutia. What is this support?

The State Assembly (Il Tumen) of the Republic of Sakha (Yakutia), the Head of the Republic, our deputies in the State Duma of the Russian Federation have a regular dialogue with the public and the business community that respond to requests for help or assistance, whenever possible.

So, on behalf of the entire jewelry community of Yakutia, I would like to thank everyone who took part in the elaboration and promotion of the bill on silver. This year, a draft was adopted to return special tax regimes for enterprises involved in trading and manufacturing various silver goods. And I hope that for entrepreneurs involved in gold sector, a balance of interests will be achieved in the future.

The Decree of the Head of the Republic of Sakha (Yakutia) Aisen Nikolaev should become a powerful support for the development of the jewelry industry; he named the development of the creative industry among the priority areas. The republic’s industry program and state support measures have been developed aimed at active support for the development of the Yakutia’s creative economy.

Galina Semyonova for Rough&Polished