Jeweller Shannon's sets its sights online after store refit
One of Northern Ireland's longest established family jewellers is to launch a new online platform.
Shannon's Jeweller's in Lisburn has just completed a major refit of its Market Square store.
Now the company is bringing its luxury stock and bespoke services to a wider customer base through the new website.
Founded in 1925, the business has evolved with the times.
Owner Mervyn Shannon said many independent jewellers had struggled to compete with major online retailers.
He said the answer for Shannon's has been to focus on personal service and bespoke luxury items.
Much like the new shine he's applied to his premises, Mervyn said a key part of the business model in 2018 is remaking and restoring jewellery. "It's jewellery that has been passed down as heirloom from one generation to the next and we're remodelling, resizing, bringing the next generation what they'd like.
"Sometimes you're using the gold the customer has and completely remaking a brand new style. Sometimes they'll have really nice stones, we'll remount them into something that can be worn every day.
"Often it's platinum or white gold, which the young people seem to like. Often it's a matter of making it more modern, but using the diamonds they have, which are very valuable. We've seen a lot more of that of late."
On the restoration side, Mervyn said Shannon's strives to make "dowdy" items "look beautiful again".
He said he takes real pleasure in the response from customers when they see the results.
"A lady recently bought in a ring after being married for 20 years.
"We completely remodelled it and she went out of the shop dancing. It's a great reaction and it's nice to see."
Like most aspects of retail, he said online and social media have represented the biggest change in his industry.
The company already had a website for selling products, but Mervyn said they have gone back to the drawing board, and are now counting down the weeks to the brand new platform.
With the competition at the lower end of the market fierce, he said the business has found its niche at the higher end.
"What I find is that when people get to a milestone age, often 40 or 50, they tend to come in and treat themselves to a nice watch. Something they've always seen as an aspirational buy. We're getting a lot of that too."
Apart from restoration, Shannon's is known as a business which will manufacture jewellery to a customer's requirements.
It can often lead to very unique requests. He described how a customer had requested a bespoke piece made from oxidized silver and meteorite.
"In all my days, I never thought I'd be asked for that," he added.
Indicating how the industry has moved on in recent years, he said customers are typically presented with a video of prospective designs, sent via smartphone.
He said: "We then take it step by step and create a ring to their choice. Over the last 10 years that has completely changed and revolutionized our lives.
"But it's still about finding the points of trust, from what the person's looking for, against what they like and what the options are.
"I've been in this game for 36 years. It has been an education and I still learn every day."