From Liverpool to London: a look at the legacy of a British gem
“We’ve done a lot of things to change our business, but changing the name of the company to Boodles in 2002 was one of the most important things.”
From words of Michael Wainright, Boodles’ Managing Director, you’d be forgiven for thinking the change from Boodle and Dunthorne to Boodles 16 years ago was the first time the fine-diamond jewellers changed its name.
He continues, “I think it was one of the best things we’ve done, because it’s a far more contemporary, snappy name, and we’ve re-invented ourselves into quite a contemporary jewellers.”
But Boodles’ post-millennium name change represents more than its capacity for reinvention - it represents the beginning of another chapter in a British legacy that started under yet another name 220 years ago this month.
A different name, a different city, a different time
It all started in 1798’s Liverpool, where the Kirk family established a small jewellery business. In 1855, they were taken over by William Wainright and simply became Wainwright.
More than 30 years later, two of William’s descendants broke off from the business to take on the remains of another small jewellers, Boodle & Dunthorne - the name that would go to inspire the Boodles we know today.
That ‘today’ for Boodles is the position as Britain's leading retailer of fine-diamond jewellery, with shops in Liverpool, London’s famous Bond Street, Harrods, Manchester, Chester and Dublin.
To say the ‘rest is history’ then is perhaps not too far off the mark. Just a brief glimpse at their past reveals a story studded with royalty and celebrity, an indication that this 6th-generation enterprise hasn’t just endured two-hundred years of human history, but thrived in it.
The Boodles secret to success
But how exactly? Marketing Director James Amos says their success comes from being a family business, which allows them to take a ‘long-term’ view in everything they do, “I believe that’s been one of the keys to success to lasting a long time.
“So good customers might be with us 10, 20 years or even more, and that’s really been the bedrock of our success in the North West, and increasingly so in London as well now.”
Whether it’s customer relationships or making business decisions, a particular theme emerges: Boodles takes a long-term view on everything it does, even now as it looks to the next chapter of the Boodles story.
“Well, I think we’re all working for each other and we’re working for the next generation. So it’s a cliché perhaps, but you have your time at the tiller, a bit like the captain of a ship,” says James.
“But I hope we’ll be able to continue that legacy forward for our children and onwards after that.”
“And what gives me an enormous amount of pleasure is that I have two 22-year-old twins who will ultimately come into the business,” explains Michael.
“And that gives me as much pleasure as anything, actually.”
Crafting a collection of unforgettable moments
220 years is a long time for a business like Boodles to craft a collection of unforgettable moments. To say that collection might include designing jewellery for royalty such as Queen Elizabeth to hosting a tennis event attended by sporting greats such as Andre Agassi and Tim Henman would be to only scratch the polished surface of their legacy.
For marketing director James, one thing stands out. “There was an event we did six times called BBB, The Boodles Boxing Ball. It does what it says on the tin. It’s exciting. It’s glamourous. I think it’s the best in the world,” he says.
“In 2006 and 2008 we had Prince William and Prince Harry and Kate Middleton.
“It’s been an exciting event, and that’s why we want to do it again. There’s been a general demand to bring it back.”
It’s crystal clear that the extraordinary touches almost everything ‘Boodles’ - and it’s no different for its 220th birthday celebration.” James says.
“We haven’t spoken about it yet, but as we speak the windows are going in to celebrate the 220th anniversary.”
And it seems only fitting that a business that undoubtedly creates birthday gifts for others would only use that talent to craft one for itself, “One very large necklace. It will sell for a million. It will feature pink diamonds - we use pink diamonds a lot.
“And some really nice diamonds from New York, exclusive to us in Europe.”
“It’s even got 220 in the clasp.”
This anniversary marks another milestone in their story, which Michael, James and their team have plans to continue.
The next chapter of the Boodles story
“Whether it’s an engagement ring proposal, there’s a story behind each piece we sell - a story behind why it was made and how it was made,” says James.
As Boodles continues to punctuate its own story and those of its customers with jewellery designed and made in house, they continue to look at what’s yet to come.
“We want to keep doing more of what we’ve done already because we hope we’re moving in the right direction,” says Michael. “We feel there’s an opportunity to become even better known in the UK.”
“It’s trying to be a little bit better at absolutely everything we do,” says James. “By trying to do everything a little bit better you hope that the brand grows and the customer base grows.”
“We hope to pass that legacy to our successors.”
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