Whether it’s a luxury watch, a diamond engagement ring or a more modest gift – you can find it all in Middlesbrough.
The town centre is home to a cluster of thriving jewellers who help families celebrate the happiest times of their lives.
We are Middlesbrough spoke to some of the fantastic independent and national retailers who are succeeding in our town.
They’re the businesses proving the resilience in the high street, despite the loss of big national department stores from town centres across the UK.
“Having a strong choice of jewellers in the town is a real advantage for everybody – there are independent businesses and larger chains with different specialisms, so no matter who the customer is they’ll find a shop that will look after them,” said Adam Hillier, of Hiller Jewellers in Linthorpe Road.
“We’re very confident of the service we offer our customers, but we know there are some fantastic businesses in Middlesbrough.”
Kelly Ashcroft, Amie Best, Louise Bowker and Wendy Singleton at Middlesbrough’s Beaverbrooks store
Kelly Ashcroft, manager at the Beaverbrooks store on Linthorpe Road that has traded at the site for 50 in October years, agrees: “We wouldn’t want to be the only jewellers in town! People know Middlesbrough is a destination for diamonds, jewellery and watches, and it brings people into town to see what’s on offer.
“We all offer a slightly different product, and we’re very confident and proud of the service we offer our customers.
“People might first come in here when they’re 13 or 14 and they come back for their wedding rings,” continued Kelly, who has been with the company for 30 years while her assistant and other team members have been for decades.
“Beaverbrooks is a family business, and it’s lovely to get to know the families who come through our doors.”
Dawn Welsh, of Market Cross Jewellers, said: “The high street has changed a lot, and it will keep on changing. But the story doesn’t always have to be negative. I’m a naturally positive person and I can see the high street bouncing back, and we’re proud that jewellers are playing a part in that.”
Market Cross has two stores in Middlesbrough and a host of others across the North East and North Yorkshire, all of which tailor their products for slightly different audiences.
Dawn Welsh at Market Cross Jewellers
Its success has seen Dawn and husband Roy – who started the business in Guisborough in 1980 – secure the former Miss Selfridge premises next door to their Linthorpe Road store, a prime corner window plot which will allow them to extend their current offer.
“We have wonderful customers and we’re lucky to be able to sell some amazing brands from the town centre,” she continued.
“No matter what your budget is, you can come to Middlesbrough for a watch, a piece of jewellery, a gift – and you know that you will be able to leave with what you want, whichever business you choose.”
Sue Latcham, manager at the F. Hinds store in the Hill Street Centre, agrees: “Of course footfall has dropped from when the high street was at its busiest, but those who come in know what they want – so business is still very good.
“I always say that you don’t buy a gift for someone that you don’t like, so when people come into our shop they’re happy and they want to buy something to make a relative or friend happy. They’re buying with confidence.”
Many shoppers are struggling during the cost-of-living crisis – but businesses in the town say it hasn’t dampened people’s love for quality jewellery.
Sue Latcham at F.Hinds Jewellers
“One thing I can see now is that people are treasuring the ability to buy people gifts, especially after Covid, we’re all back together and celebrating big events,” said Sue.
“We advise our customers too – people may want an expensive brand, but we can tell them if another actually suits their needs better.
“I was given a good piece of advice once – you can lose the sale, but not the customer. We want people to come back and keep shopping with us.”
Wendy Singleton, assistant manager at Beaverbrooks, said its reputation for the quality of its diamonds convinces people to turn to the store for a special occasion.
And she added: “I think we’re seeing people are becoming more discerning. If finances are getting tight, people may buy one fabulous investment piece of jewellery rather than more regularly buying inexpensive fast-fashion pieces.
“It’s an emotive business and something we all love being involved in, we’re helping our customers create special memories.”
Hilliers has been in Middlesbrough town centre for more than 40 years, and at its current Linthorpe Road location for more than two decades.
Adam Hillier at Hiller Jewellers in Middlesbrough
It’s recently been renovated – extended to provide a stylish seating area for customers choosing the perfect piece – whether that costs a few hundred pounds, or five figures.
Adam Hillier, who runs the family business, knows that looking after your customers is paramount.
“The customer is completely in charge, they come in with an idea and we want them to be happy with what they walk out with,” said Adam.
“We design rings from the ground up. We order stones from all around the world, whether they’re mined diamonds or lab-grown, we get the clarity and the colour and cut that they’re looking for. Whether it’s white gold or platinum or silver.
“It’s not just about a sale, it’s about looking after someone to make sure they become a customer in the long term”
A few doors down at Market Cross, it sells a range of high-end brands including Cartier, Gucci and Brietling, as well as stocking pre-owned Rolex watches.
But among its most popular items in the Linthorpe Road store are the relatively inexpensive Nomination bracelets – a customisable type of charm bracelet.
“Our staff are fantastic, and they’re one of the reasons that our customers come back. We actually have a room upstairs that was full with Christmas presents and chocolates last year. I have people who are 30 who come in and say ‘you’re our family jeweller’,” continued Dawn.
“That makes me feel brilliant.
“Our job doesn’t end with somebody walking out of here with an engagement ring or a watch. They know they’ll get a warm welcome when they come back through the door, and we do get to know our customers.”
- Market Cross, Hillier and F. Hinds are three of the amazing Middlesbrough businesses who take part in the Middlesbrough Gift Card scheme.
It works in the same way as a department store card, but it can be used in an amazing range of over 40 businesses based in Middlesbrough.
To find out more, visit the website.