PA Jewellery’s story begins in 1976 when our founder Mike Marsh, then working in insurance, visited a silversmith to discuss his pension. On seeing the silver ingot pendants that he was manufacturing Mike came up with the idea of selling them via mail order, marketing them through the national press. In that first year a few hundred were sold, barely enough to cover the advertising costs.
In 1977 everything changed. A special mark was added to the hallmark to celebrate the Queen’s silver jubilee and the feature hallmarked ingots were a perfect way to display it. This really caught the jewellery buying public’s imagination and that year Mike sold around 20,000; all “chained up”, packaged and despatched from his loft at home by Mike, his wife Pam (the P in PA) and his friend Anthony (The A) as well as Mike’s father “Pops” and any other friends and family willing to lend a hand.
By late 1977 and with the end of the ingot “craze” in sight (the special jubilee mark was only to be included on the hallmark for one year), Mike had a decision to make; return to the day job or develop PA Jewellery. He chose the latter and invested the profits from the ingot sales into developing a broader jewellery catalogue and finding PA Jewellery a new home in a disused branch of the Midland Bank.
Over the next few years PA Jewellery went from strength to strength; each year the catalogue increased in size as the breadth of stock increased. At the same time an increasing amount of business was being done face to face rather than mail order and the Old Bank showroom was enlarged, growing into neighbouring businesses when they became available.
Mike was the business mind behind PA Jewellery, but he realised that to be able to offer the best service great product knowledge was needed too. Employing people according to their enthusiasm and jewellery knowledge rather than sales skills he soon built a team of expert jewellers to advise his customers and help with buying decisions.
In the mid-80s Mike created the iconic PA Jewellery radio adverts; anyone who listened to Radio Hallam at that time will be familiar with Mr Hodgkiss’ sage advice to his young apprentice about where to buy his jewellery. These adverts were so effective that customers still talk about them now, over 20 years since they last aired.
1989 saw another string added to PA Jewellery’s bow when a workshop was created, offering in-house repairs and manufacturing for the first time, something that was to become a core part of the business.
In 1993 Mike and his team’s hard work was recognised nationally when PA Jewellery scooped the prestigious Retail Jeweller Magazine Independent Retailer of the Year award. In 1997 the company was in the limelight again when it was awarded Sales Team of the Year at the same awards.
By the end of the millennium PA Jewellery was outgrowing its premises, so in 2001 the Old Bank underwent a transformation, extending at the back and adding an extra floor, more than doubling its floor space to give a spacious showroom and workshops, plus office and storage space to administer the business.
The 21st Century has been all about building on our strengths, continuing to employ and train the best, most qualified jewellers in the business and increasing our manufacturing capacity so more and more of the Jewellery stocked is manufactured in-house. Despite facing challenges such as the rise of internet shopping and a recession, PA Jewellery has thrived by sticking to the basic principles of offering genuine value and the best possible service.
Mike continued to head PA Jewellery as Managing Director until February 2018 when he tragically passed away after a short illness. He wanted his legacy to continue in PA Jewellery and to ensure that his “work family” continued to be looked after in his absence. To enable this he began the process of creating an Employee Ownership Trust that would become the majority shareholder in PA Jewellery, alongside his family and the existing directors. This came to fruition in October 2018, making all PA Jewellery employees part-owners of the company and securing its future.