Adrian Turner and the team at Fifth Avenue Diamond Experts celebrated the store’s 70th anniversary last month as much to thank customers, suppliers and staff for their support during what’s been a difficult year for retail as to mark a momentous milestone.
As owner Adrian Turner says, the store was completely closed through April and May with Level 1 lockdown, and then trading with closed doors for nearly three months as the Hurstmere Road construction created dust and noise outside. It was important to celebrate the people who sustain the business, he says, adding that this year has shown that the store has “awesome customers”. The birthday celebrations were about thanking people, coming together and having fun. He’s had great feedback since from guests who filled the store on the night.
The number who attended, and the feedback, are no doubt due to Adrian’s approach to business, which has at its heart the needs (or wants) of every person who comes into the store. “Our specialty is custom design and manufacture,” he says, “specialising in diamonds and coloured stones.” Each of the seven staff members you’ll meet in-store is trained in jewellery, diamonds and coloured stone, and able to provide advice and information. “The idea,” he says, “is that they help people with enquiries about repairs and designing items.” Or about any of the wide stock held in store, much of which is top-name brands, balanced with Fifth Avenue’s own designs. They also remodel and remake jewellery – with diamonds beingAdrian's specialty.
Adrian’s interest in jewellery was first piqued as a 10-year-old in England when he washed the local jeweller’s car, and was entranced by a television mini-series that glamourised the lifestyle of an international diamond dealer. “It looked really cool.”
A year later, his life was upended as the family shifted from metropolitan England to Rotorua, but when it came time to leave school, he considered three choices: a police dog handler, a vet, or a jeweller. He opted to get a foot in the jewellery busines and landed a job in a family-owned jewellery store.
As fate would have it, in 1994, his boss purchased Fifth Avenue Jewellers (then in Shore City) to add to his Rotorua and Tokoroa stores. Adrian shifted north and just over 10 years later took over as the owner of what by then had become a highly regarded local institution. “I always wanted my own jewellery business,” Adrian says, somewhere he could serve retail customers, but also do his own design and manufacture.
“It’s a privilege to be in this industry,” he adds. “We sell nice things to nice people.” It’s also a very personal industry: “You’re invited into their lives, and are part of special moments and celebrations” as you help people select the perfect piece for themselves or loved ones. That, too, is a privilege, one Adrian takes seriously. “We wouldn’t want someone to make a purchase they were not comfortable with. We do take things back or exchange things, but 95% of the time we get it bang on.”
Adrian and his team achieve this through ensuring they understand each customer’s wishes, and the preferences and personality of the person they are buying for. “There’s no pressure selling,” he says. “They make the decision, based on our understanding of what they like and don’t like.”
The process is, of course, longer and more involved for special occasion and one-off pieces. For gifts, for example for Christmas and birthdays, there are a few perennial favourites: diamond stud ear-rings, “a must-have in any jewellery collection”; bangles, “always popular. A simple gold bangle is engravable, classic, and goes with anything”; diamond “huggies” (hoop ear-rings); and diamond “tennis bracelets” (named after a bangle worn by tennis player Chris Evert).
Women now often buy their own jewellery, Adrian says. They know their style and self-worth, and value that, as well as want to treat themselves. Men, he suggests, might be missing a trick: they don’t realise the emotional value women place on jewellery – let alone the brownie points they could earn in buying a gift like jewellery that can endure for ever.
Women similarly could earn brownie points by buying a special gift for their male counterpart. Adrian makes one-off items for men, like a recent special ring in white gold with black diamonds, and he also stock a range of high-end Mont Blanc pens, as well as cuff links, belts, wallets and watches.
With Christmas approaching and summer ahead, Adrian and his team look forward to welcoming returning and new customers. And above all, in this difficult year, he wants to wish everyone a happy and safe Christmas with friends and family, and to thank everyone for their ongoing support.
5 Hurstmere Road, Takapuna