Parrys Jewellers is somewhat of an instituion on the Coffs Coast. It was established in the 1970s by Jane & Cyril Parry, and just last year their son Michael relaunched the business with his partner Deborah. They share their story with FOCUS readers.
Parrys Jewellers was first established in 1975. Michael, share some history of the store and the journey your parents, Jane & Cyril, took.
My father was only 16 when he began his apprenticeship as a watchmaker. In 1960 he moved from Sydney to Coffs Harbour and began working at a jewellery store in the CBD. He was then given the opportunity to purchase this store in 1975 and changed its name to Parrys Jewellers. It was one of three stores in Coffs at the time. They built their business up by offering individuality. They travelled extensively, choosing unique pieces, mostly in 18ct gold, and gained a strong following of clients.
Michael, when did you first get involved in the business?
I was only 13 when I started working in my parents’ store – mostly at the weekends and school holidays. Observing my father at the bench repairing watches is where my passion for watches evolved. Since then, I have gained a Diploma in Gemology & Diamond Grading. It is hard to believe that I have been involved in the jewellery industry for over 30 years.
Deborah, you emigrated to Australia from Jersey. What prompted you to move out here?
I moved out to Australia in 2001, as I had visited Australia a number of times to see my family. I enjoyed the climate and the friendly relaxed way of life here. I am very fortunate that all of my immediate family now live in Coffs Harbour.
Have you always had a background in fashion and jewellery? How did you get involved?
I have always had a love for beautifully hand crafted jewellery; I don’t think there are many women who would say otherwise. But for many years I was a PA to two politicians, which is where my ability to organise events such as the High Tea and Fashion Show are showcased. I enjoy meeting people, which is so important in retail. Michael and I met in 2003, and I began working at the store in Grafton. I was very fortunate to have Michael as my mentor, as he has an incredible wealth of knowledge for me to draw from. One of the most rewarding aspects for us, is that we play a part in people’s special occasions.
Last year, Parrys Jewellers reopened what is now your flagship store in the Coffs Harbour City Centre. Why did you decide to reopen in Coffs Harbour?
Michael was born in Coffs Harbour and has always lived here, apart from his time in Sydney while he was studying for his degree in Mechanical Engineering. It was natural for us to want to remain here; our children are all settled at school, and Coffs Harbour is an idyllic place to raise a family.
The community seemed to embrace the relaunch, with some of Jane and Cyril’s original customers returning to the store. Is everything still going strong?
We have been blessed with support from the local community, along with Jane and Cyril’s previous customers. As well, our loyal customers from the 18 years that Parrys Jewellers was in Grafton are now making the trip to see us. As we reflect on the past 12 months, we could not have wished for a better welcome back to Coffs Harbour’s CBD.
Obviously your store is ‘the home of beautiful jewellery’, but you also provide services such as repairs and valuations, etc. Tell us about these.
We offer a comprehensive repair service, ranging from chain repairs, ring resizing, re-clawing, rhodium plating, battery and watch repairs, to custom designed and hand made jewellery. We are very competitive with our prices, without compromising on quality. We offer obligation free quotations on all repairs. Jewellery valuations are carried out by a registered valuer, which is a requirement of insurance companies.
What do you both love about beautiful jewellery?
Although we design and handmake jewellery, we also travel to World Jewellery Fairs to choose items from different designers from different countries. It is always fascinating to see the latest designs and trends around the world and to bring these back to Coffs Harbour. All of these pieces are unique, and you will not see them repeated in our store.
When choosing a piece of jewellery, what should buyers look for?
I think it has become confusing for people to know what they are buying; when some jewellery stores are constantly on sale with 50 – 60% off, are they really getting a bargain? Our advice would be to compare like for like when shopping around. The weight of an item, for instance, will vary the price considerably, as will the quality of any gem stones.
What are you looking forward to in 2012?
We now have an online store at www.parrysjewellers.com.au and we look forward to seeing this grow during 2012.
We are in the process of designing and hand making a pendant for the upcoming Dancing With the Coffs Coast Stars, which will be auctioned by Michael Crossland on the night at Coffs C.ex on 4 February 2012 – all monies raised will be going to the Cancer Council.
We will also continue to support local charities and of course, our showcase annual event the Parrys Jewellers High Tea and Fashion Show, which raised over $20,000 this year.
Thanks Deborah and Michael.