The Diamond Boulevard is one of the Gold Coast’s best loved jewellery destinations for tourists and locals alike.
For more than 20 years the store, located in the Gold Coast’s premier shopping centre, Pacific Fair, has proudly sold some of the city’s most high-end jewellery designs.
Owned and managed by John Gough and Patti Groves, Diamond Boulevard, is as its name proudly attests, a store for diamond lovers with an extensive collection of Passion 8 and Canadian Fire diamonds as well as “anything from D flawless”.
According to John the store is “a boutique store built around the windows”.
“The concept is simply big background windows – we sell what’s in the windows and what’s in the windows is always high quality,” he says.
However John is the first to admit that, unlike many jewellery store owners, he is not emotionally attached to the products on display in his store’s windows.
“I’m not a jeweller and while I likely jewellery I certainly don’t like jewellery that doesn’t sell,” he says bluntly. “I’m into profits.”
“I’m running a business and am therefore ultimately only interested in the bottom-line.
Fortunately, for customers at least, Patti does love jewellery – and is very good at selling it.
In fact, John is happy to say that Patti is largely the key behind Diamond Boulevard’s success.
Groves, who trained as a gemmologist and began working in a jewellery store while studying at the University of Queensland, “opened” Diamond Boulevard in 1992.
“It was the most beautiful store,” she recalls. “It was well fitted out with good quality stock and we were very happy with it as it was a very good upmarket store for the Gold Coast at the time.”
In the 19 years since Patti has gradually “brought the store up” even further.
“We have had our own workshop for 20 years and have manufactured our own products since 1992,” she says.
Although Diamond Boulevard is competing for customers with 16 other jewellery stores in Pacific Fair where the majority of passers-by are ‘tourists’, Diamond Boulevard has nonetheless managed to win a loyal following.
“We don’t stock products specifically for the tourist market,” says Patti.
“We sell what we want to sell which is actually very high quality diamonds and we get a lot of out-of-state purchasers because of that quality.”
She readily admits that it is “always hard” to get out-of-staters to become loyal customers but stresses it is always possible.
“I’m amazed at the number of the out-of-staters and country customers that come back to us to get their wedding ring and eternity rings after they’ve bought their engagement ring,” she says.
“I think it is because they trust me totally. I know what I’m doing and the customer knows that I know what I’m doing… I work with the customer so closely that they know when I’m going to make something and I am going to do exactly as we say and never vary it.
“If I think there’s going to be a problem with a customer’s design (if it’s not going to work out and it’s not going to look good) we won’t even take it on.
“I try to make their ideas into rings for them but if I see something that I know is never going to work, like horse-shoe shaped wedding rings that sit around a single stone diamond ring. I just don’t make them because I know customers will never be happy them.”
“I only make designs we know the customer will be happy with it … and from then on we have a customer for life.”
Now, Patti and John are hoping to win even more new customers for life with the opening of a second store, Birkbeck’s, in Southport.
Located only about six kilometres away from Diamond Boulevard in Southport, the store, was established in 1912 by Vic Birkbeck.
Ready to buy a second store, John and Patti were impressed by the fact that the store was in its own freestanding building in a prime “town corner” location rather than simply a space in a shopping centre.
“Although we have done really well with Diamond Boulevard in Pacific Fair there are numerous disadvantages to being located in a shopping centre (eg, the more successful you are the more rent you pay) so we really wanted a store outside a shopping centre as we believe that a stand-alone store is best for a high-end jeweller,” John says.
John and Patti purchased the store in November and are now busy “upgrading” it into a “real diamond destination store”.
They have already added a new workshop and a diamond room and started a new internal fitout but both are happy to admit the process will take a while.
“At the moment we’re juggling both stores,” says John.
“We’ve been working really hard and we’re still filling the gaps with products and staff.”
But the couple can certainly be proud of their progress – stock changes are already changing the store’s image and impacting on its bottom-line.
“Since 1912 Birkbeck’s has largely been known as a watch store but we are gradually bringing it up to the standards of Diamond Boulevard,” says John.
“We have already eliminated a few watch brands that weren’t making enough profit – we are now only selling Tag, Seiko, Raymond Weil, Classique and Frederique Constant.
“Since February the sales of diamonds and jewellery have begun to exceed the sale of watches.”