Please tell us about Garnier Jewellers
Garnier Jewellers was originally set up in 1962 by Paul Garnier and his wife in a small shop in Hoddesdon, a secondary position in a side street. They very quickly began to run out of space and decided to move to a new development shopping precinct known as ‘Fawkon Walk’. In 1982, the Garniers retired, telling one of their regular wholesalers David Pringle, my father, and one of the last generation to have worked for ‘Robert Pringle’ of Clerkenwell London. He then mentioned the opportunity to me. My brother and I were working in other jewellers shops in Stevenage and London at the time, so the decision was made to purchase ‘Garniers of Hoddesdon’ in 1983 and turn it into our own business. In 1991 we moved the business to the high street, to the former premises of our then main competitor A.A. Bond, in an attractive listed building with existing workshops and offices. Over the last 23 years it has taken on a mix of traditional and modern design.
What makes you stand out from other jewellers in your area?
Being long-established and offering a complete jewellery service including new and second-hand jewellery and watches, valuations, repairs and carrying a very comprehensive range including some of the most popular brands. If we don’t have something available in store we will either try to source the item or design and make up a piece specially to the customer’s own design and budget. We use goldsmiths and watchmakers whom we trust, with their invaluable experience, knowledge and quality of work.
What advice would you give to someone starting out In the industry?
If I was to advise anyone thinking of starting out I would say get as much experience as possible, study all aspects of the trade, but bear in mind you will find that you are always learning something new, no matter how long you are in the business. The trade is always evolving and changing with different fashions and trends. Keeping up to date is very important but knowing the history of the industry and gaining experience is invaluable – it will give you credibility in the long run.
You offer a bespoke service, how do you feel this benefits your company?
I feel that being able to offer a bespoke service opens the door to the discerning customer who wants an original and unique piece made – a service that they cannot get from the multiples. People like to feel they have bought something special and unique with the service and quality to match. We do our best to deliver a piece of jewellery to our customer that is not only high quality but made to match their budget.
What is the most unusual piece you have been asked to make and were you able to fulfil it?
A number of years ago we were asked if we could make a special golf trophy for our local Hanbury Manor golf club for a ‘exhibition’ golf match attended by professional golfers including Tony Jacklin, Dave Stockton and Jack Nicklaus II. It was several months in the making as a large section of the trophy was made of glass which I had specially commissioned and hand-engraved along with a bespoke presentation case. Afterwards the winner, Dave Stockton wanted to take it back to America but the hosting hotel was so pleased with it, they wanted to hold on to it.
Where do you see yourself in five years?
Over the next five years we plan to increase our online presence both in terms of sales and advertising, as well as expanding and strengthening our customer base in store and on the high street. We feel it would be a great shame to lose our high streets. We have a local team of people in Hoddesdon, many of whom are independent traders themselves, who are working hard to promote independent shops like ours in our town. Organising regular themed events and competitions is helping to generate interest in the local shops.
This feature first appeared in the March 2014 issue of jewellery Focus.