A business which has helped thousands of families across Northamptonshire and Oxfordshire to mark pivotal moments in their lives for decades is celebrating its centenary this year. Michael Jones Jeweller managing director STUART O’GRADY reflects on the firm’s longevity and explains why he sees more success for the business on the horizon.

Michael Jones Jeweller was launched by a determined young couple at the end of the First World War. During the conflict, Michael’s father, Claude, served as a sergeant in the Royal Medical Corps while his mother, Laurie, worked with the Voluntary Aid Detachment. On their return to Northampton they committed all of their savings to their new joint venture and in August 1919 today’s well-known quality jewellers began life as a pawnbrokers. In later years Laurie would reminisce that in the early days

they had even sold their own wedding presents to make ends meet. When Michael left school he began working in the family business, using his parents’ links in the trade to gain experience. The firm’s current managing director, Stuart O’Grady, believes

Michael’s early days in the business shaped his vision for the firm. He said: “During this time Michael learned the importance of expert staff, superior workmanship and supplying customers with the best products available. “When Michael eventually took over the family business in

the 1960s he sought to turn it into a fine jewellers. He set about creating a shop which would be a spectacle in the town. “The original Michael Jones Jeweller, located in the Mounts, Northampton, was designed with excitement in mind. Its striking external architecture was matched inside by a waterfall that cascaded in to a pool complete with tropical plants and ornamental fish. To add a final flourish to the customer experience Michael began our tradition of hand wrapping and wax sealing purchases with our very own Michael Jones Jeweller seal.” Michael felt certain that just as the business relied on its staff, the staff should be able to rely

on the company. He believed ‘profit was a means to an end and there were more important things in business, such as the quality of life of the people who worked in it’. Thus, in 1970 he sacrificed his ownership of the business and turned it into a co-operative. Stuart continued: “Even now, when you enter one of our

showrooms you will be served by a co-owner of the business, each of whom understands the role good service plays in nurturing loyal patronage, trust and reputation. Michael also felt that if the company was prosperous then it should look outside to help others through charitable work, a belief we still uphold today. “We believe that truly great service continues long after your

original purchase and offering a comprehensive aftersales service has always been the keystone of our business. You may be familiar with our sales staff and showrooms, but behind the scenes there are skilled craftspeople and horologists helping to provide a complete aftersales experience. “Our goldsmiths combine time-tested hand skills with the




latest technology to offer comprehensive jewellery repairs and bespoke commissions while our first-class watch workshop can service brands including Rolex, Omega, Breitling, Tag Heuer and Cartier in-house. We are proud to announce that our senior watchmaker is among the first in the UK to have achieved Rolex’s prestigious plaque scheme status. “Our onsite registered valuers can appraise both contemporary and antique pieces, using their gemmological equipment and expertise to identify their provenance. Our sales team do not work to commission, as we prefer to nurture real relationships where honesty and expertise are paramount. We are proud that over the years many customers have become lifelong friends.” Over the decades, Michael Jones Jeweller has nurtured relationships and links within the trade. This combined with the team’s expertise and knowledge means they are able to offer the best products available, from the finest diamond stock to the best in Swiss watches, at great value.

Stuart added: “We select pieces for their craftsmanship and

superior qualities, so that you have peace of mind in every purchase. With jewellery brands such as Fope and Portfolio of Fine Diamonds, and time pieces from Rolex, Breitling, Omega, Tag Heuer, and Raymond Weil, there is something for everyone. “Our 100-year story makes Michael Jones Jeweller what it is

today. A century of trading brings invaluable knowledge, experience and networks – collectively our team has 500 years’ experience of the jewellery trade. The business has survived great periods of change and uncertainty. We have witnessed the Second World War, humanity’s first steps on the moon and of course the rise of the internet and the credit crunch. “We will see Brexit unfold and no doubt live through other

William Craghill (chair of the board), Lynette Applegate (head watchmaker) and Stuart O'Grady (MD)

30 inbusiness APRIL/MAY 2019

great challenges. We stand on the shoulders of those who have built the company and stand by the values and beliefs that are the hallmark of Michael Jones Jeweller. We believe that with good service and quality luxury items we will continue to grow.”

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