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Jewellers Join the e-business Era

IBM's New On-line Appraiser Service Helps Retailers, Insurers and the Police Service

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London - 01 Dec 1998: . . . A new online service for the jewellery industry has been embraced by jewellers, insurers and the police service since its launch in early November. The On-line Appraiser service, which has been jointly developed by Jewellers On-line and IBM Global Services, is based around a central database containing jewellery valuation information to which jewellers, insurers and the police have access via a secure intranet.

The service not only speeds up jewellery valuations, but also helps with the tracking of stolen objects and simplifies the insurance claims process. In the future, it could be extended to store information on other personal property such as art, antiques, televisions and VCRs.

Jewellers who sign up for On-line Appraiser can provide customers with extremely detailed valuations to better protect their jewellery investments. Customers simply take items to an On-line Appraiser registered jeweller and receive a document describing the item to be insured, including full colour digital photography. This data (without the customer's personal details) is also sent electronically by the jeweller to a secure IBM central database for storage.

Christopher Milton-Stevens, managing director, Jewellers On-line, has worked closely with IBM Global Services to develop the On-line Appraiser service. "We are delighted to be able to offer this service to the jewellery and insurance industries and move forward into the e-business era. IBM's involvement has enabled us to use the latest technology to provide a secure, reliable service which representatives of both industries are very keen to embrace," he comments.

There are already plans to expand the On-line Appraiser service in the New Year, by introducing HallmarkPlus - a unique marking of jewellery with an eight digit alpha-numeric reference at the time of manufacture which has been developed in conjunction with the Birmingham Assay Office. The alpha-numeric references will be registered on the central IBM database making recovered items easier to identify.

"The Jewellers On-line service is a classic example of e-business at work," comments Jeff Ace, business operations director, IBM Global Services. "It highlights IBM's unique ability to harness the broadest range of expertise from IT and business consulting and application development through to delivery of a solution, hosted at an IBM location, and accessed remotely using a secure intranet. IBM's On-line Appraiser shows how e-business is reaching into more and more parts of our daily lives."

The On-line Appraiser service has enormous advantages for jewellery owners. The accuracy of the valuation enables insurance claims to be settled more quickly and efficiently, and ensure that the customer is not over or under insured. It has also received backing from the police service and is being piloted by the Avon and Somerset Constabulary which is using On-line Appraiser within its Crime Reduction Unit to help identify and record lost and stolen jewellery items and to tackle insurance fraud. The service will be used to prosecute burglars and handlers of stolen property. Fraud is an area of increasing concern both to the insurance industry and the police; On-line Appraiser valuations provide proof of ownership which helps to reduce the likelihood of fraud.

As Becky Wilson of Ernest Jones, a leading UK multiple retailer and registered On-line Appraiser jeweller, notes, "We recognise the significant contribution On-line Appraiser could make not only in improving our customer service standards but also in reducing jewellery crime and increasing the efficiency in processing insurance claims."

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