1960s - A gold old fashioned apprenticeship
Petra Moore, born in post war Germany in 1946 and is now 68, studied for her goldsmith’s apprenticeship in the 1960s in Germany. With very little money to buy materials most of the apprenticeship pieces were made from copper. Her Mum gave her the money however to buy some 18ct yellow gold to make her final piece of jewellery with which she graduated with the highest marks on her course. High standards were something that would stand to set her and Petra Jewellery apart from the rest 50 years later too.
A labour of love: 3 months in the making 18ct yellow gold hand made bracelet set with cabochon amethysts and fresh water pearls.
1960s Love in the Alps
She was swept off her feet by a dashing young British Army Officer whilst skiing in the Alps with her father. They soon married, had a daughter and came back to the UK where Petra, who spoke very little english, needed to find a way of making a living for their young family.
Basingstoke was an obvious place to settle and Petra was delighted to get a unit at the Viables Craft Centre on the Harrow Way; just outside of the Basingstoke Town Centre.
Here’s the original newspaper clipping from June 1979:
The pieces of jewellery you can see in this article Petra made herself – she had no money to buy any stock to sell at this stage. Gradually she made an income through carrying out repairs and alterations for local people and soon the word began to spread.
1979 Opening of the shop at Viables Craft Centre:
Her daughter Mitch, now 39, was four year’s old when Petra opened her business and Mitch remembers her always being a ‘roll up your selves and get on with it’ type of mum:
“This picture is Mum building her own display counter; she couldn’t afford a tradesman to come and do it for her so she did it herself – I’m so grateful for having such a brilliant role model in my life!”
2006 Moving with the times:
Mitch, who followed the family tradition and served in the Army for four years after graduating from Swansea University with a degree in Mechanical Engineering, joined the family business eight years ago and did all the obvious things to modernise what was already a very successful independent jewellers by then: she created a website, started emailing customers and introduced new technologies and ideas into the manufacturing processes.
2008 Expansion – quite literally!
Soon they needed staff and a bigger premises so thankfully the wood turner in the double unit next-door, who was planning to retire, was happy to swap units with them. This was their chance to create a retail space that match their vision of a contemporary, forward thinking jewellery business.
Here’s Mitch, five month pregnant and Petra, as usual, girls doing for themselves!
Expanding the unit and Mitch’s tummy – 5 month’s pregnant with her daughter Heidi.
2011 Three generation business? Heidi, Mitch & Petra
Heidi, pictured further below, is already keen to help in the shop, cleaning the glass and tidying things away. Mitch proudly comments “She’s clearly got our Germanic high standards verging on OCD tendencies..!” and adds “Exactly the traits you need to be a successful jeweller!”
2014 Celebrating 35 years
When asked how they have survived the recession Petra replies “People want quality and don’t mind investing in stunning jewellery if they know it’s going to last and most importantly knowing they can always come back to us if they have any problems.”
Mitch is keen to add “I will never forget Mum saying to me on day one (in her rather strong German accent) DO NOT COMPROMISE ON QUALITY Mitch – it just isn’t worth it!”
It seems the family business has bloomed through the so called economic down turn simply by doing what they do, the best that they can do with loyal customers that trust and value the service they give. In fact, early in 2014 they were awarded Britain’s Most Loved Jewellers Award; testament to their core values.
“We, in turn, really value the support our fantastic customers have given us and that’s why we had a BIG PARTY to celebrate and say THANK YOU!“
Mitch has exciting plans for the next 35 years, introducing new things like 3D design software, a VIP service, My Gold Memories – a nationwide service for sending in old gold to be redesigned into something new and expanding their contemporary offering online.