Drakes Jewellers circa 1950
Andrew Hirshman, Drakes Jewellers
As one of the City's most respected, family-run, independent businesses, Drakes Jewellers are perfectly placed to highlight the impact of the pandemic on local retailers.
We speak to Director, Andrew Hirshman, about how 2020 has been a memorable year (in more ways than one), the benefits of shopping local, Pet Jewellery and how Drakes Jewellers are looking forward to a more positive year ahead.
Drakes Jewellers circa 1950
Drakes Jewellers turned 70 this year, can you tell us a little about the history of the business?
Our family business was founded in March 1950 by my late grandfather Harry Hirshman. Since we opened, Drakes has taken many prominent locations around Plymouth’s city centre, finally settling in the Drake Circus Shopping Centre when it opened in 2006. In the 70’s my father, John, took over as Managing Director and today myself, my sister Monique and Jennifer (the first director outside of the family) have taken over the reins. What’s really special for us is that we are still known for the same strengths and values as we were back in the 50s; diamonds, wedding rings and a great experience.
It has certainly been a challenging year for local retail. We have worked hard to add more of our collections online so that our customers have more ways to shop with us. We want them to feel comfortable shopping with us so they can choose to visit us in store, book a video appointment or shop online.
It has been a difficult year for local retailers. How have you adapted in such tough times?
It has certainly been a challenging year for local retail. We have worked hard to add more of our collections online so that our customers have more ways to shop with us. We want them to feel comfortable shopping with us so they can choose to visit us in store, book a video appointment or shop online. Whichever method they choose, our team are on hand to help. In store we have all necessary measures in place to ensure a safe and enjoyable shopping experience. For us, the most important thing is being there to help our customers in whichever way we can
As a well-respected ‘Independent retailer’, what are the benefits of shopping ‘local’?
The personal touch! We are a family business and we think of our team and our customers as our extended family. We love Plymouth and consider it a privilege to be trading in this great City. I personally choose and inspect most of the diamonds you see in store and online, we want to make sure that we are offering quality and value, without compromising the service or experience in any way.
What exciting pieces do you have in the shop over the Christmas period?
We have just launched a new birthstone collection and it really is exquisite. The collection has earrings, pendants and rings for each birthstone month. We’d recommend popping into store to see it in person because the pieces are stunning.
Engagement rings are always popular especially this time of year and we have a few new designs that have just arrived including some additions to our popular Desire by Drakes collection.
Our brands have some exciting new collections for Christmas too.
Tell me a little about ‘Pet Jewellery’, I haven’t heard of this before?
We understand that pets are very much part of the family and for many, they want to celebrate the bond they share with their pets with a piece of jewellery. Pet inspired jewellery is becoming increasingly popular with customers. Some of our favourite memories are spent with our pets by our side so to signify this with jewellery is special.
Pet inspired jewellery is created using our bespoke service. Customers come and tell us about their pets and what they are looking for and we work with them to get an idea of how they would like their item to look.
We’ve had some beautiful items made for customers including this pendant filled with the ashes of our customers beloved cat.
Company Directors from left to right: John Hirshman, Jennifer Manning, Monique Hirshman and Andrew Hirshman
What do you love most about being in Plymouth?
Being close to the water and also Dartmoor. The scenery is spectacular and it is a healthy place to live. Also Plymouth has a strong and close community feel which we love.
What are the plans going to be for Drakes Jewellers moving forward?
We’re always looking for ways to improve what we do so we will continue doing what we do, just constantly striving to do it better!
Finally, what has the pandemic taught you and what will you be looking forward to doing most after lockdown?
I feel like the pandemic has brought a new found appreciation for life in general and the importance of those around us. As a business, COVID-19 has accelerated digital so the need to be able to adapt quickly has never been more important.
Drake Circus Shopping Centre (Upper Mall)
1 Charles Street, Plymouth, Devon PL1 1EA
Tel: 01752 227775