This has been a super exciting Christmas for us, our Fifth in Helmsley and the best yet. It’s been wonderful helping you all choose your gifts and seeing so many of our regular customers – some of whom we see once a year on Christmas Eve only for their special gifts, some of them who we see weekly, or monthly, but all who are equally supportive of us. The run up was especially hectic with #smallbizsat and my trip to No 10 for the National launch, such a great initiative supporting independent small businesses, which I hope will be an annual event nationally and also in Helmsley. We are lucky here, to have so many quality independent shops and I have managed to do all my Christmas shopping locally with the help of our colleagues, especially Hunters of Helmsley our neighbours.
We have just one more day trading to go, tomorrow, on Christmas Eve when we will be opening until 5pm. Then a few days off, and reduced opening throughout January to rest and recuperate before the new season jewellery shows in early February and the exciting New Year of 2014 ahead.
Christmas is our busiest time of the year, and it seems to have started already as we have been very busy in November with people buying for their nearest and dearest both online and also in the shop.
We are very proud to have been selected as one of the #SmallbizSat100 – a hundred UK independent businesses chosen to promote the UK’s first ever Small Business Saturday and together with our lovely Helmsley in Business colleagues have arranged a Festive Family Fun Day to celebrate all the independent businesses in Helmsley on the day (December 7th). So if you are not yet feeling festive, come along and get into the mood….and maybe get some Christmas shopping done too while you are enjoying Helmsley’s unique atmosphere.
This month we went to International Jewellery London on our weekend off to source two ranges of watches which we have had our eye on for some time & I’m pleased to announce that we will be stocking Storm London & Danish Designs from this month. British fashion brand Storm offer distinctive individual designs, with a wide range of sizes, materials, textures, and colours. Danish Designs, a collection of respected Scandinavian designers, impressed us with their range of high quality stylish watch designs in typical minimalist fashion, understated & elegant timepieces with use of hypo-allergenic titanium, and smooth leather.
Whilst there, a new jewellery range from British Designers CW Sellors caught my eye. I am sure their Whitby Jet & Marcasite will be one of our bestselling ranges this Autumn as both Whitby Jet & Marcasite are already very popular, and the combination together looks amazing. Vintage-style carved Whitby Jet Yorkshire rose earrings, Cabochon pendants with Marcasite surrounds, as well as beautiful bangles & bracelets really stood out & will stand the test of time in your jewellery collection as well, with classic vintage style. Of course while I was there, 2 foxtail pieces also caught my eye, a bracelet & pendant in Blue John – both one-offs, although the style can be replicated, the piece of stone (the UK’s only semi-precious stone) in each is unique. The bracelet is already sold!
In Helmsley we are gearing up for 2 great events, #LittleFest as part of OnOurTurf on 28th/29th September and our Second Christmas tree Festival from December 5th-20th, which is raising money for St. Catherine’s Hospice this year – a very valuable local Charity which we personally support. See www.visithelmsley.co.uk for more details. I am currently struggling with “Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds” window display but Shhhh! Don’t tell anyone, it’s a competition to guess the song/play/book from the various displays around town during the OnOurTurf #littlefest event. Seeking inspiration from Made You Look notes from a recent display training course I attended is fine, it’s just finding the time to put it into action! There’s no training for making more time unforuntately.
Andy & I are still running the pub to help my parents, as well as Libby Butlers, but it is up for sale so if you’ve always wanted your own pub, or know someone who does, then see details from Barry Crux, our commerical agent.
Where did the Summer holidays go? We’ve really enjoyed the lovely long hot Summer, and even managed a short holiday to the mountains in Czech Republic. I left all my jewellery at home in the safe, apart from one pair of earrings, & felt very bare all week! We recommend our cz & silver range for holidays – especially cruisewear, leave your diamonds at home!
Our new Local Designer Becky Pomfret will not be going back to school in September, as she has graduated from York College & her debut range for us is already selling well, particularly the Acorn earrings & Pendants pictured below. We love to sell Yorkshire Jewellery Designers like Becky and also stock Amanda Cox of Hebden Bridge & Karen Thomas from York.
So Christmas buying is looming, and we look forward to taking part in #SmallBizSatUK on December 7th and have been chosen as one of 100 businesses in the UK to be featured in the run up to this event, the first time it’s been held in the UK, sponsored by Amex (A frequently question asked here, do we take Amex? Yes we do!). It’s a great reminder to support local independent businesses up & down the country, not just at Christmas but all year round. As members of the FSB, we support their campaign to “Keep Trade Local” and in Helmsley that’s not difficult with over 50 independent businesses to choose from, we rarely need to shop outside town.
I was interested to read that blue nail-varnish is “on-trend” but I am no longer sure how long trends last these days, maybe now that I have passed my 36th birthday this month and am on my way to 40? Not being sure how long things are “on-trend” is probably an admittance you wouldn’t normally hear from someone working in what is essentially a fashion led business, but we don’t tend to buy into fashions & trends here, instead choosing stylish jewellery that will last whatever the fickle fashion is.
Certainly each Summer, blues & greens and pastels do become popular – our Nicole Barr & Fine Enamels range with pretty flowers, butterflies and seaside themes suits more delicate Summer outfits and is beautifully hand- enamelled using various specialist techniques. They were our first supplier to issue their sales agents with I-pads, a sign of the times, but we always choose jewellery from samples not pictures, so that we are sure each item is wearable, practical and of high quality.
I have recently ordered an I-phone 4 from Vodafone, and will be able to manage our social media better than with my old phone. You can interact with us on Twitter and Facebook as well as Pinterest and find out about new ranges, and old favourites like the Fine Enamel Harebell pendent & earring set (I still call it a Bluebell as do most of our customers, but am in trouble with my Mum who is a keen gardener!) in Summer’s “on-trend” colour blue!
Enamel techniques used in the Fine Enamel range:
Rich translucent glass enamel colour suspended between silver wires
Intricate engraved silver pattern covered with translucent vitreous enamel gives texture and dimension
Layers of hard-fired enamel applied in recessed areas of silver to create a rich depth of colour and texture.
The North Yorkshire East Federation of the Women’s Institute are celebrating their Pearl Anniversary this year, that’s 30 years young, and over 200 ladies from all over the federation came to Helmsley to have lunch and listen to the marvellous Susan Rumfitt from Harrogate (of the BBC Antiques Roadshow) give a lecture on the fascinating history of pearls from natural pearls to today’s cultured pearls. A special point to note from the lunchtime lecture – champagne & jewellery go well together – additional sparkle! I was lucky enough to attend with 9 members from Appleton-le-moors WI where I am President.
I wore my new Akoya pearls, large 10.5mm studs with 9ct gold backs & a matching necklace which Susan, our pearl supplier, strung to 19” with a special sterling silver clasp which will take a pendant for a more modern look on other occasions. I chose the pearls at the Birmingham jewellery show and this was their first outing as a completed set.
We offer a restringing service for pearls, which is recommended every 2-3 years if you wear your pearls often, or can be used to change the style of something you may have grown out of (taste-wise or size-wise). We also have some fabulous new Keishi Pearls & Chocolate coin pearls in stock – which just goes to show that like the WI, pearls never go out of fashion, and there’s far more than just the traditional style of “twinset and pearls” available.
Keishi Pearl: Small pearls that from in Akoya oysters spontaneously while the larger cultivated pearl grows, they don’t have a nucleus & have interesting irregular sizes.
Akoya Pearls: Cultivated in Akoya oysters, typically round in shape and usually of Japanese origin.
Coin Pearls: These are nucleated with a flat disc to help achieve a consistent flat round shape.
Helmsley in Business have been busy with lots of news to report from the town, 2 new shops have opened for Easter, and a new visitor attraction for the town at DuncombePark, the
International Birds of Prey Centre. We hope not to receive too many “April showers” this month, but with the walking shop “Helmsley Outdoors” re-opened there will be no shortage of wet weather gear to buy if you’re caught out in the rain.
On April 7th I was at The Black Swan, just over the road from us, a very popular wedding venue, as featured in Brides Up North magazine & several other national publications. It is their Spring wedding fair & I will be meeting lots of brides & grooms-to-be to talk about our wedding ring service & Bridal jewellery.
We offer a made-to-order wedding ring service, with a range of bands in gold, palladium & platinum, hand made in our workshop in your ring size. We can also offer shapes to fit your engagement ring, stone setting for a bit of extra sparkle, or many other special finishes including millgrain edging, engraved messages, even your fingerprint can be engraved for total personalisation.
Ring sizes: Ring size in the UK are measured using letters of the alphabet, typically ladies sizes are J-R and mens R-Z Visit our ring size guide for more information.
We have seen new collections this month from 3 of our established British jewellery designers: David Scott-Walker who specialises in handmade British jewellery including Whitby Jet & Derbyshire Blue John, Britain’s only semi-precious stone. Deborah Darling and Colin Greer based in Northern Ireland who make handmade Pewter jewellery in gorgeous Celtic designs, one of our current bestselling ranges. This is really comfortable to wear, very affordable and customers keep coming back to build their collection. Also just ordered and coming soon are some new pieces from Lucy Quartermaine, whose solid sterling silver designs continue to set British Design standards.
Whitby Jet is found just across the North York Moors from Helmsley, and is a popular collectible, as is Blue John from Castleton in Derbyshire – we visited the mines 2 years ago for my birthday & enjoyed a fascinating tour as well as a very lively pub quiz at Ye Olde Cheshire Cheese Inn in the village on the Sunday evening. Andy stopped me from purchasing a tiny turned bowl that sat in the palm of my hand for just over £400 on the grounds that it would get broken when dusting – not sure what made him think I will start dusting!
One of the difficulties in starting a small business is cash-flow and we have recently paid up-front for an exciting new collection for a recent graduate of York University who is using the money to add to her graduation collection for us, in an exclusive range featuring inspiration from nature. Very exciting to be able to support a local girl who is undoubtedly very talented. Watch this space!