Cussell's jewellery shop to close after 44 years
One of Grantham’s longest- running and much loved jewellers is closing,
after more than 40 years of business in the town .
John Cussell – who has owned his workshop in Westgate, Grantham, since 1975 - has decided to ‘downsize’ following four decades of trade in the town.
His well-known double-fronted shop has been an important feature in Grantham as many will remember purchasing or having their precious pieces of jewellery made.
John started his career in the Central School of Art and Crafts in London in 1961 before signing up for a five-year apprenticeship with a company of ecclesiastical silversmiths.
After completing his apprenticeship, he went to work with Stewart Devlin, an Australian artist and metalworker who specialised in gold and silver.
After three years John decided to up sticks and travel around Europe with his now wife Jenni and together they set up a workshop in Spain.
The couple returned to England and John worked for Michael Driver silversmith in London before moving to Grantham and opening John Cussell jewellers in 1975.
Over the years, he has trained and employed sales-staff to become experts in gold and silver retail.
Despite long hours in the workshop, he was never alone. Wife and co-partner Jenni, although a schoolteacher for many years has always had an essential role in the business. Their two daughters Amy and Chloe were involved as they got older making it very much a family business.
John added: “I will miss the fact that John Cussell Jewellers shop will no longer have a presence in Westgate. I have enjoyed meeting each of my customers, who have come from all over the country, and helping them choose special gifts for their friends and relatives.
“I remember one particular man who said his mum had warned him that she only ever wanted to receive a piece of jewellery that came in a John Cussells box.”
John has also regularly received some memorable commissions.
He said: “My first big commission was making a limited edition of silver goblets for Lincoln Cathedral. These were extremely popular and sold out to help raise funds for the cathedral.”
Other commissions have included a trophy for Saab cars, a commission from Radley College Oxford, the De Beers Ascot King George VI diamond stakes trophy which was presented by Her Majesty the Queen and a copy of a miniature mace for The Royal Squadron Yacht Club in Cowes.
John added: “My most recent large commission was making a ceremonial mace for the University of Evansville at Harlaxton Manor. I have also undertaken restoration work for St Wulfram’s Church, namely the sanctuary lamp above the main altar. Although these have been large commissions, I have done hundreds of special jewellery commissions for customers up and down the country. The most special commissions were making my daughter Amy’s engagement ring and diamond earrings for Chloe’s 30th birthday.”
As the years have passed, John has seen many changes.
He added: “We moved from smaller premises in 83 Westgate to larger premises at 84 Westgate. We also took on more staff and I had a larger workshop.Another big change has been computerisation with stock control, till etc.”
The internet has also dramatically changed the face of retail but this never deterred John, who added: “Although jewellery is sold on the internet there’s nothing like being able to try on and handle a piece of jewellery before buying. Our customers can then feel the quality and weight. We love the fact that it’s always a joyful occasion for someone to purchase a piece of jewellery whether it is for themselves or a present.”
John credits his staff over the years for the level of service that his customers have come to expect.
He added: “One Christmas our staff decided to have a sweepstake to see how many gifts may need to be changed. There were only one or two pieces that needed to be changed. This is a great testament to our staff’s ability in advising customers on their choices. Over the years we have had a great team of people working for us and I’ll miss having them around to keep me on my toes.”
Despite 40 years in the trade, John is not planning on stopping all together, adding: “The town has been very good for business but I am not hanging up the hammer just yet.
“I don’t intend on retiring, just downsizing and working on special commissions. It will also be nice to pass on my skills to other silversmiths.
“I lost count of the amount of times that Jenni would call me at the workshop at 10pm to ask if I was planning on coming home that evening. Once I had my radio on and I was working away, I was in my zone.
“Silversmithing is in my blood.”
More by this authorTracey Davies