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The Independent Jeweller

The Independent Jeweller

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Photo by Rebecca Lippiatt

It is never just a diamond. It is not just a necklace. Jewellery is personal and always tells a story; sometimes a love story, sometimes an heirloom story, a celebration, an event, a milestone. Gerry Gilroy, founder and president of Independent Jewellers, has been helping people share and preserve their stories for 45 years. Whether it is a newly engaged couple shopping for wedding bands or long-term clients having a lost or damaged ring recreated through 3D printing technology, Independent Jewellers is the solution.

He didn’t start out in the jewellery business. 

“I was in furniture retail but carried some Scandinavian jewellery in the store,” Gilroy reminisces. “However, the jewellery side kept getting bigger and bigger. So, I opened a jewellery store.”

In the late 70s, Alberta was booming. An upscale jewellery store – with a difference – was the ideal fit for the growing city. Within five years Independent Jewellers had 15 locations across Alberta. As times changed, so did the footprint of the brand. Gilroy consolidated the locations into the “superstore” of the jewellery brand located in Mayfield Common. After 17 successful years, he decided to branch out yet again and build his very own stand-alone, full-service jewellery store in West Edmonton, the store we know today.

“That was a big move on our part.” says Gilroy, “A big gamble that has proven successful.”

It was a calculated risk. At 32,000 square feet, it is the largest jewellery store in Canada.

From day one Gilroy wanted Independent Jewellers to be a place where both customers and staff felt right at home. It was important that every guest could find something in their price range and to feel just as welcomed if they were spending $100 as the person spending thousands. His business plan was to create a store where there were as many services as possible under the same roof so each item, especially jewellery brought in for repair or resetting, would not leave the facility – this is important for quality and security. Every year Gilroy made changes and additions to remain the best in the industry.

“When I started Independent, we did something no other jewellery house in the region had done – I hired an in-house goldsmith and an in-house gemologist,” says Gilroy. “Today we also have CAD designers, 3D printers, the ability to make casts/molds in-house, and more. We are upgrading and learning all the time. That will never change.”

The focus on quality diamonds has never changed either.

“Diamonds are our biggest thing,” says Gilroy. “We offer a lifetime trade in and price matching. I’ve been selling diamonds for 45 years. Trust me, I know how to buy them.”

Canada is the third largest diamond supplier in the world and ships many of these gems to overseas markets. Many people actually own a Canadian diamond but don’t realize it. Gilroy focuses on Canadian diamonds to support local business and because they are mined ethically and responsibly. 

The desire to create a welcoming place for shoppers and staff was realized too. 

Gilroy continues, “I make sure the customers are looked after. Every aspect is built from service and expanded from that. Prices are good. Selection is good. We do not focus on only one demographic of client. We have special jewellery options for everyone, regardless of budget or needs. Customers can buy a ring and have it sized in-house. We get lots of out of town service because of that; the ability to have a ring appraised, sized, etc. without having to come back days later to pick it up.”

He adds, “About 80 per cent of our staff have been here for over 20 years. Some for over 40. That means the knowledge has been retained and we can provide service that other stores just can’t match,” 

The flagship store feels “right at home.” It is open, airy, and the displays are easy to access and view. Staff are helpful and never pushy.

Heather Cabral, general manager, says, “Customers say we have the feel of a small company, but the services of a huge operation. People feel comfortable because they can come into the store and see and chat with the owner. If they call and say they want to talk with Gerry, he will answer.”

She continues, describing some of the other ways Independent Jewellers sets itself apart. 

“We also do a lot with corporate sales incentives in a way that fits the budget and goals of our corporate clients. We create rings, pendants, earrings and more for corporations that want to reward employees. This helps with staff retention.”

The corporate reward program has grown quickly over the past few years.

Cabral explains, “The program is flexible, easy and hassle free. While we have offered a corporate rewards program for 40 years, technology has made the process faster, more affordable and lowered minimum order requirements. In the past we used a third party for this program but have since brought it in-house. The experience from start to finish is a smooth one and in this area, we have doubled our business.”

Cabral continues, “Thanks to the 3D printers, CAD and design work, we can – in-house – repurpose, recycle and reuse jewellery. We can do a single ring or a batch of over 100.”

Gilroy adds, “If you can dream it, we can make it, be it a hand-carved piece, which is a unique art form, or using our technology. No matter what you envision, we can bring it to life. In fact, for 19 consecutive years, we have won a Consumers Choice award for exceptional customer service and product selection.”

He’s known as the man that took jewellery buying into a new experience, but there is so much more to Gerry Gilroy. Since the 1990s he was a major promoter of professional boxing, bringing high profile matches to the city and creating some of Edmonton’s most memorable boxing events. His love of sports has also made him an associate member, and long-term supporter, of the Oilers Alumni. 

Giving back is second nature to Gilroy; he and Independent Jewellers support a wide variety of local non-profit organizations and charities. For years they have donated a percentage of online sales to the local Meals on Wheels organization. He was also gifted a trophy from the mayor for 25 years of hosting boxing events that helped to bring economic success to the city. 

Despite creating the largest jewellery house in Canada, driving economic growth for the city, giving back in many ways and making thousands of customers’ dreams come true, Gilroy remains humble. He loves nothing more than to be on the showroom floor helping customers, in the community helping locals or talking to the staff to ensure they are having a good day.

“I’d like to thank all our loyal clients for their continued support, the community, and many organizations, especially Glendale Golf & Country Club and the Oilers Alumni,” he says. “And of course, my staff who always work hard to provide the best customer service and support me in this incredible journey.”

The 45-year anniversary is celebrated with online giveaways, gift cards and a special evening event where guests can win a diamond ring. It is all to thank customers for their patronage for over four decades. 

As for Gilory, what comes next? More of the same. From his office above the flagship store he is surrounded by memories of his career, by signed posters from his sports heroes and by souvenirs he has collected from travels over the years. It’s a short walk down the stairs to the showroom floor where he continues to what he loves best – help people tell and preserve their stories, one item of jewellery at a time.

11248-170 Street NW, Edmonton, Alberta  T5S 2X1
P: 780-484-6342 | Toll Free: 1-800-896-4385

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