I was surprised to learn that Goldsmiths opened it's first showroom in Newcastle more than 230 years ago in 1778 on the very same site on Blackett Street that it stands today. In comparison, Fenwick first opened in Newcastle in 1882 - more than 100 years later! I really am an old romantic at heart and I can just imagine the ladies of Georgian and Victorian times peering in the store window as they walked past just as I do today.
Goldsmiths were the first place you could buy a Rolex watch back in 1919 and are now the largest quality jeweller in the UK with long and established relationships with most luxury watch brands including Rolex, Cartier and Omega to name a few.
A store that is over 200 years old does need a lick of paint every now and then, however this Summer, Northern Goldsmiths have achieved so much more than this and completely closed it's doors to the public for two whole months which enabled the listed building to under go a £1m restoration. I bet I'm not the only one who has walked past recently and wondered what exactly has been going underneath the white exterior coverings.
Northern Goldsmiths will always have a special place in my heart. It is where Steve bought my gorgeous Sapphire and diamond engagement ring (it's mad to think that is over 10 years ago) and it is where my grandad saved up and bought my grandma's wedding ring from over 60 years ago. I just know when the day comes for Heidi to think about getting married, nowhere else will compare and her prospective fiancee will just have to visit Goldsmiths to choose the perfect ring.
I was very excited to be invited along to Northern Goldsmiths relaunch by O PR last week. The luxurious invitation hinted that the evening was set to be a special one.
The evening did not disappoint and it is clear to see where the £1m has been spent. Northern Goldsmiths has been classically restored to reflect the 1900's. Fresh cream walls with gold panels are complimented with the original beautiful chandeliers and polished glass cabinets. There are now both Omega and Rolex boutiques within the store and the first floor is home to a dedicated service area which will be used for intricate client repairs. I was lucky enough to stumble upon a watch repair 'live in action' and was amazed at just how detailed and involved the work can be. The repair staff are highly trained and really know their stuff and now that I have met them, I would not trust my jewellery with anyone else.
The evening was enjoyed by a mix of past and present customers, journalists, a few bloggers and even a few actual real life celebrities. We were very well looked after by 21 hospitality who provided the most delicious canapes and our champagne flutes were regularly topped up alongside a few cocktails provided by The Lakes Distillery and Fentimans.
A brass band played in the corner and magician Chris Cross entertained the crowds with his superb close up magic and tricks. We did ask if he could somehow sneak us a Rolex without anyone noticing however he politely declined!
My friend Chloe from New Girl in Toon is at that stage in her relationship where an engagement must be pretty imminent (no pressure Simon) so after a few glasses of champagne we pounced on the lovely Helen and asked if she would oblige and measure Chloe's finger. We spent a good 20 minutes with Helen (maybe more) and I have to say she is so passionate about her job, Goldsmiths and Newcastle and provided us with a complete personal service. In fact Helen told us to let Simon know to hunt her out when the time was right (hint hint). Helen also treated us to a special behind the scenes tour and told us a few stories from the past and led us up a secret staircase so we could take a peek at some of the store's original tiles. Service honestly does not get better than this and Helen put us completely at ease as she chatted with us.
All good things do have to come to an end and we left Goldsmiths as the famous 'kissing clock' struck 10. Venus to give the clock it's Sunday name is covered with 24 carat gold leaf and has been carefully removed and reinstated as part of the refurbishment. People have been meeting for years under this clock for a quick kiss and in years gone by it was the place to meet your date in Newcastle. I love that meeting here would mean there is certainly no excuse to be late and I have decided this is going to be where I meet Steve in future instead of Grey's Monument next door - I want to keep the 'kissing clock' tradition alive and think the people of Newcastle should join in too.
The overall message I left with was that Goldsmiths on Blackett Street does not belong to the company, it in fact belongs to the people of Newcastle. I am so annoyed that last week was the first time I have actually stepped foot in store despite lingering outside looking at all of the gorgeous jewellery through the window every time I visit Newcastle. The staff are so lovely and welcoming and not at all uptight and certainly wouldn't look down their nose at anyone who just wanted to pop inside and have a look around at the gorgeous transformation for themselves.
It is our 10 year wedding anniversary next year and I have been nagging Steve for this eternity ring for years. I love that Goldsmiths are such an established part of our city's heritage and I am confident I will be visiting soon to finally buy the ring I've had my eyes on since we were married in 2006. In fact I imagine I will return to Goldsmiths for every significant anniversary for the rest of my life too as it isn't going anywhere anytime soon.
Do you have any tales to tell from Northern Goldsmiths? Have you been inside yet? I would love to hear your thoughts.
To read more visit Goldsmiths website.