KEEPING customer trust has proved key to a family jeweller who aims to offer a warmer experience than online shopping.
Micallef Jewellers has adapted to a number of changes in their nine years in Tonbridge High Street, with national companies selling products on the internet proving their latest competitor. Founder and jeweller Michel Micallef has overseen 35 years at the helm since starting the company in Rainham and expanding further into Sevenoaks six years ago.
His daughter, Sacha Micallef, is the shop manager of what is now the last independent jewellers in Tonbridge. She said the firm’s approach has kept customers coming back rather than looking online. “We do have a website, but it is very difficult to compete with big online retailers,” she said. “To get yourself on Google as a silver or diamond jeweller
is very expensive. “We can’t compete on those terms, but we can compete in terms of service and advice.”
She added that the firm handles repairs, alterations and cleaning with care and efficiency. Their turnaround is one week, compared to the six-week wait online customers can face.
Many of the products they repair and adjust are items that were mis-sold online. Ms Micallef said that by personally measuring items these problems can be avoided.
“The service side of our business is important because people are trusting you with their valuables,” she said, “and not just because they are expensive, they have a sentimental value, too.
“Our reputation has developed from this trust, and customers know we won’t keep their jewellery longer than we need to.”
As well as a changing high street landscape, Micallef Jewellers has seen a change in jewellery fashions, with gold becoming more expensive while silver is more respected than it used to be. Ms Micallef added: “This high street is full of hard-working, exciting independent shops and businesses.
“Time and again you see people on social media putting Tonbridge down, but I think it’s a fantastic town, we have amazing coffee shops and hairdressers – you can’t get that online. “These are the retailers who keep the high streets alive.”
Her mother, Jacqueline Micallef, handles valuations and administrations for the company while Ms Micallef said her pet dog, Coco, is always in the shop and a favourite among customers.
She added: “We have pieces from about 60 different jewellery suppliers and can get most things in for a customer at any time.
“We like to be flexible, and it gives you that extra personal touch. We like to think we go that little bit further for our clients.”