Interview: How a former account manager launched a private diamond selling business
Neil Geddes, the owner and managing director of NJ Geddes Fine Jewellery – an exclusive jewellery concierge and private couture diamond buying business, is one of only a handful of private jewellery concierges in the UK.
After establishing his exclusive jewellery concierge service in 2010, Neil is now based at Aspire in Leeds city centre and Grosvenor Street, London.
Prior to becoming a private jewellery concierge, Neil worked as an account manager for a large UK training company. Bdaily recently caught up with the Leeds-based entrepreneur to discuss his journey to becoming recognised as one of the leading and most knowledgeable figures in his industry.
When I asked Neil how launching his own exclusive jewellery concierge service came about, he explained: “My initial thoughts on starting the business occurred around seven years ago when I was shopping to find an engagement ring for my fiancé.
“In my eyes, when you are shopping for such a special occasion and making a significant investment, you require a highly personalised service that places you at the heart of the experience and gives you all the information required to make an informed choice and acquire the exact piece of jewellery you desire.
“Unfortunately, I felt as though I didn’t receive this important attention to detail, and the lack of detailed product knowledge I experienced really frustrated me.
“This, combined with my disengagement with my then job as an account manager for a large UK training company, led me to study and find out more about fine jewellery and create a company that addressed all of the issues I had experienced when buying jewellery. As a result, NJ Geddes fine jewellery concierge was born in 2010 to deliver the experience akin to that of Saville Row for jewellery, but with more achievable price tags.”
As Neil’s main office is in Leeds, with another in London and operations across Manchester, I was intrigued to find out how long he has operated in Yorkshire and the ongoing activities in all three areas.
“I moved to Leeds in 2008 following a little travel and a break after University,” he said. “A stint of my childhood was spent in North Yorkshire and I’ve always loved the region. Leeds has such a warm feeling to it and is well known for its fashionable city status. It was here where I started to come up with the business model of a private jeweller, but I wanted to incorporate the buzz of a northern counterpart in Manchester and the excitement and opportunity of London.
“The activity started by talking to people and networking; letting people know that I could find a ring or jewel for them. It was a challenging at first as I had to persuade people to let me find something for them as opposed to them just visiting the usual shops.
“The opportunity and subsequently my clientele began to grow from there, and I ventured more into London with a focus on high quality and unique jewels and how I could save busy clients money and time when sourcing them.”
As for why he chose to operate from Leeds rather than the country’s capital, Neil commented: “London is fantastic and indeed the market is huge. I travel to London regularly to meet with many of my high net worth clients, as well as suppliers. It is a very exciting and active place within the jewellery trade.
“However the ‘northern powerhouse’ cities have character, charm and beautiful villages on their doorsteps. The ‘golden triangle’ around Leeds is home and I have the benefit of visiting clients across those regions where there is real commercial opportunity.”
As well as working with some of the UK’s wealthiest individuals, Neil also revealed what other sort of clients he works with.
Neil stated: “I travel all over the world with the company, and I’m lucky enough to meet people from all sorts of sectors along the way. Many of my clients are very time-poor and need the assistance and discretion I provide to help them locate, purchase or design bespoke jewellery items without even having to leave their own office.
“As such, many of my clients come from the legal, finance, sporting and arts sectors and are often at director, chairman or CEO level. I also work with a number of celebrities who commission me to create unique pieces alongside my designer.
“I also often work with clients who need guidance on what to buy when purchasing fine jewellery, which means I have to ensure they also get the best value for the large sums of money they’re spending.
“Past clients have also included younger gents in their mid-twenties who are getting engaged with more modest budgets as they’re just starting out in their careers, but they really value the personal attention to detail.”
Looking ahead for NJ Geddes Fine Jewellery, Neil spoke about the company’s future growth strategy.
“North America is on the radar for my long term growth plans as I do have connections and collaborations over there,” he said. “I work with a number of luxury lifestyle management companies based in the US, and also work with a VIP communications network here in the UK that provides phone services for high profile clientele; all of which helps me to extend my reach across the country.
“However the main focus is to increase UK profile within my three key locations of Leeds, Manchester and London and their surrounding counties and areas.”
Finally, as there is a handful of private jewellery concierges in the UK, Neil also revealed to Bdaily about the different benefits he can offer compared to other jewellery retailers.
He said: “I take pride in our client relationships and my business model is based around going the extra mile for them. We are flexible and are able to obtain some of the finest diamonds and jewels from across the globe and deliver them straight to our clients, making it exclusive for them. I suppose we help to bring people’s dreams to life. In addition, many jewellery houses are limited to their own bricks and mortar, which also means large overheads. We don’t have these which means we can give those savings back to the client.”
Neil’s success showcases the importance of preparation before launching a new business venture. His research into this specific market enabled Neil to create a viable business model, which ultimately led to the success and growth of NJ Geddes Fine Jewellery.