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How do you remain relevant in the modern world as a traditional family jeweller?

The jewellery trade has deep roots. IRENE DEUTSCH says that while traditional is important, it’s vital that your business changes with the times.

The world of retail can be an ever-changing beast presenting the typical jeweller with constant challenges.

Cast your mind back over the past decade and reflect on the increasing impact social media, digital devices, and the internet have had on the way which we conduct business.

Consider changes in consumer sentiment and the rise in popularity of large luxury brands, just to name a few key shifts in the landscape.

This leaves us with an important question: how does a business remain relevant?

This is a challenge that my business – Fairfax & Roberts – has faced for 165 years. It’s a challenge I’m sure you’re more than familiar with given the nature of the trade.

Running a jewellery store involves many long, hard hours of work each week. For independent stores, many of them family-owned, finding the balance between completing orders, dealing with customers, and negotiating with suppliers can be all-encompassing.

This schedule leaves little time to stay ahead of the latest trends, study emerging technologies, and stay ahead of the game! Staying relevant is not an easy challenge, however; in my opinion, it comes down to a few core principles.

Trust is paramount

Trust is everything in the jewellery industry – whether it be the relationship between retailers and suppliers, storeowners and employees, or the business and its customers.

"An important aspect of the longevity of our business has been our loyal customer base, who have a firm understanding and appreciation of who are and what we do. That cannot be jeaopardised!"

Making your customers your number one priority is something many business experts speak of, however; few mention why it’s such an important consideration.

We know that purchasing jewellery is a personal and emotional experience, and the foundation of that experience is the trust customers place in a business.

Modern consumers increasingly come from a default position of distrust, and the costs of rebuilding trust with a disheartened customer can be significant.

While the consequences of losing trust are often immediately visible, the hidden effects are long-term. In an environment of distrust and increasing competition, businesses must elevate the importance of trust.

An important aspect of the longevity of our business has been our loyal customer base, who have a firm understanding and appreciation of who we are and what we do. That cannot be jeopardised!

Bespoke beauty is timeless

Irrespective of their age, all of our customers choose us because of the bespoke experience they receive at Fairfax & Roberts. Our staff make it a priority to willingly share their knowledge to educate clients about everything that goes into making their special piece.

The customer will receive something not only beautiful but also meaningful and personal; the ability to be creative and own something that is unique is what sets us apart from the suppliers of mass-produced jewellery.

The passion for this kind of meaningful jewellery isn’t going away anytime soon. There is still a strong appreciation for artisanal craftsmanship – the fact that we continue to use traditional techniques that have been used for hundreds of years is very special.


Our staff take pride in creating beautiful jewellery, providing exceptional customer service and demonstrating a deep commitment to our customers.

"While we're proud of our heritage and traditions, we're constantly innovating and adapting to stay ahead of the curve."

This is reflected in the trust customers in turn place in our business, and believe me, when a business is operating without that authenticity, customers know it.

Just as you should never try to be someone you’re not, a business should not try to be something it isn’t.

A genuine desire to create jewellery which symbolises memories that will last generations attracts customers of all ages and backgrounds.

At times, it’s difficult for even the most motivated jewellers to stay engaged with their work, however; you can’t afford to let that impact how your customers view your business.

Choose to remain relevant

While we're proud of our heritage and traditions, we're constantly innovating and adapting to stay ahead of the curve.

We keep up to date with the latest trends and technologies and communicate with all of the generations that we deal with in the format they prefer to be dealt with.

We don’t stick our heads in the sand with regard to any trend! Everything is worthy of some consideration, so long as it doesn’t betray any of the aforementioned values.

Choosing to remain relevant is an active decision we make each day. It’s a decision I encourage every jeweller to make, because the alternative is falling behind the times.

I am proud to say that through the above principles, we have generations of families continuing to visit us when the time comes to mark a special occasion with fine jewellery.

As long as they are all happy with the outcome, so are we!

Name: Irene Deutsch
Business: Fairfax & Roberts
Position: Owner and managing director Location: Sydney, NSW
Years in the industry: 3

More reading:
Value from virtue: Be the change you wish to see in the world
Resetting the jewellery industry from top to bottom
Crystal gazing: the future of lab-created diamonds
Regulation is stifling Australia’s artisanal gemstone miners
The dream of an inspired and informed consumer for the diamond industry
Are you working to live or living to work?


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Irene Deutsch

Irene Deutsch took over as CEO of Fairfax & Roberts in March 2020. She joined the business following a long career in corporate finance, having held senior roles at Goldman Sachs, Macquarie Bank, and ANZ with a focus on high-performance sales teams and operational excellence.

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