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Oldest Jewellers in Australia













Now & Then: GW Cox My Jeweller

Jeweller takes a closer look at the history of GW Cox My Jeweller with Jon Cox, General Manager, as it turns 123 this year.

FOUNDED BY George William Cox & Lillian Cox
ESTABLISHED 189
LOCATION Adelaide, SA

» VISIT GW COX MY JEWELLER
» VIEW PHOTOS: FROM THE FAMILY ALBUM 

 

It has been 123 years since watchmaker George William Cox, together with his wife Lillian, opened the doors of their first jewellery store in Hindley Street, just across the road from the former Miller Anderson department store.

George’s story as one of the most famous jewellers in South Australia began when his grandfather travelled from England and set foot in Adelaide sometime in 1858 and established a brickworks business in the Norwood area.

Wanting to make a name for himself, George learned watchmaking by working in a jewellery store in Parkes, Victoria before venturing on his own.

As fate and timing would have it, Adelaide was needing another jewellery store, so he took on the challenge.

In 1909, George sought to expand his small business and decided to move his store to No.1 Rundle Street - across King William Street - which turned out to be a good choice as the business grew.

Cecil James Chilton Cox joined the company in 1916, shortly after his 14th birthday, and started learning the trade.

“Back in the 80s, jewellery was manufactured in Australia and distributed through a network of wholesalers. If you needed a gold chain, you could wander down the road to the local wholesaler and get the chain for your client.”

His son Gerald started working for the company in 1949 and was exposed to the business at a young age when he used to run messages for the shop.

In 1954, when Cecil passed away, Gerald, then 21 took over the business and credited the success of the business to its staff who supported and guided the young owner in making the G.W. Cox My Jeweller brand into what it is today

The years that followed saw the business become a family affair since Gerald’s wife Sue joined the company in 1955 as a bookkeeper; followed later by their son, Jon, as General Manager and daughters, Robyn and Meredith, who worked part-time in the company.

Gerald regarded their employees as part of their extended family and were instrumental in the growth of the business.

Most of the staff stayed with the company until they retired from work.

G.W. Cox My Jeweller has had its fair share of excitement from smash-andgrab thieves, heists, and robberies through the years. Nonetheless, the business still stands.

Jon, currently General Manager, said that so much has changed over the years; “When reflecting on my time in the business, I think the biggest change has been the structure of the industry, which has come about with the use of modern technology to manage stock and marketing,” he said.

“Back in the 80s, jewellery was manufactured in Australia and distributed through a network of wholesalers. If you needed a gold chain, you could wander down the road to the local wholesaler and get the chain for your client.

“The client was happy to wait, you had enough staff to leave the store. Computers were a new toy”.

He remembers his first week of fulltime work and an occasion where he had to visit a jewellery store directly across the road: “Dad had a client who wanted a pair of cuff links. We did not have them in stock.

So, Dad said to me, ‘go and introduce yourself to Peter Wendt [store owner] and ask him if he can let you have a pair of cuff links to sell to my client’.

I did, and Peter was lovely, he gave me the cuff links and said I could give him a replacement pair once I received them from my supplier.”

Jon believes there is a vastly reduced wholesale and manufacturing industry in Australia today, the world has become ‘smaller’ as most suppliers are international.

“Marketing is different. My father was very active in the mass media of the time, especially radio and television, whereas today, our clients are found online,” he explained.

So, what does the future hold for the business?

“The structure of retail today enables growth in sales without physically building new shops. There is a lot of productivity under-utilised in the shop structure.”

“I think our growth will be in the online arena, and the shop will grow sales because of being engaged online,” Jon said.

 

FROM THE FAMILY ALBUM

Left: Early days of G.W. Cox on 23A Hindley Street, Adelaide.

Left: The team at G.W. Cox My Jeweller, 15 Rundle Street.

 

 

 

Left: George, Cecile, Gerald, & Jon Cox

Left: Jon Cox, General Manager.

 

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