After 20 years occupying the same space, Wellington jeweller The Village Goldsmith has been given a shakeup. The shop has been refitted and expanded to be nearly three times the size to accommodate the surge in international business. We chatted with founder Ian Douglas and CEO Chris Benham about the reasons behind the re-fit. rn
The new space encompasses the international design arm of the company, The Inspired Group, a new manufacturing workshop and a new retail gallery.
Founder Ian Douglas says they wanted the new space to be very different from what people would expect a jewellery store to look and feel like, and he thinks they’ve achieved that.
“When I envisaged the new store, we imagined a space that reflected our character, our creativity and our originality,” Douglas says.
“We knew exactly what we wanted in the new space, and hence designed it ourselves.”
CEO Chris Benham says Village Goldsmith wanted to create a space that was unlike any other jeweler in the world.
It was important to ensure there wasn’t the same air of exclusivity some high-end jewellery stores have, he says.
“In terms of high-end jewellery stores globally, people can be quite nervous to enter them because they can feel uncomfortable if they have to press a buzzer or make an appointment. We wanted an approachable space.”
The process of refitting the store took four months due to the heritage nature of the building and various challenges involved, like tearing down brick walls to combine two different sites.
The newly renovated store is now open to the public from this week.
Douglas says the first thing customers see when they walk in is a five by three metre planter wall instead of instead of jewellery showcases.
This leads to an open-plan gallery displaying The Village Goldsmith’s designs. A curved stairway leads the way up to the manufacturing workshop and boardroom.
One of the other key features of the new space is it’s more experiential than before, Benham says.
“When people come in it’s more about having an experience and not just buying a piece of jewellery, but creating a piece of jewellery.”
There’s an area featuring a huge slab of Rimu wood where customers can rest, have a wine or a coffee and watch jewellers chipping away in the workshop.
“[It’s] glass fronted to enable the clients to fully appreciate the fact their jewellery is crafted and cared for onsite, not outsourced to a faceless overseas enterprise,” Douglas says.
The new shop space also mixes old and new together seamlessly.
Key restored features include a display column of recycled vintage copper and brass fire extinguishers, a massive brass and ash timber chandelier created from old brass blow torches and a huge 3.6 by 2.4 metre mirror framed with copper salvaged from the original store.
“We daily create new items from clients using their treasured family pieces, it just seemed fitting to create new life to those old elements,” Douglas says.
The new store can be found on 78 Victoria St, Wellington.