Behind the counter of jewelry store Edwards & Davies hangs an autobiographical six-panel comic strip that forever the future, drawn by Adam Ollerenshaw when he was seven: “I am a jeweler,” young Adam proclaims, spreading his hands over a display of necklaces . In another, he says, “I use pliers, torches, and files as tools.” The strip ends with “I make things that bring joy to people.”
Ollerenshaw, now 38, was inspired by the work of his stepfather, Gordon Edwards, co-owner of the shop that has been a staple of the Danforth and Main area for close to 80 years.
Inside, the decor reveals the store’s roots, with the original green outdoor sign on one wall, along with photos of Gordon Edwards’ father (also named Gordon Edwards) with cofounder Llewellynn Davies. In 1945, at 16, Edwards Sr. first partnered with Davies, a watch repair shop owner, because he wanted to combine his radio repair service with an established entrepreneur. After Davies invited Edwards to advertise in his shop, they struck up a partnership that lasted for 60 years, until Davies sold the business to the Edwards family.
Edwards Sr. passed away in 2011; his son he Edwards Jr. has run the store since 1990, now with Ollerenshaw.
“The transition from mostly watch sales and repairs to fine jewelry was motivated by the needs and tastes of our growing clientele through the ’60s and ’70s,” explains the Edwards. In those early days of Edwards & Davies, gold chains, bracelets, rings and earrings made up around three-quarters of their sales, with engagement rings and wedding bands comprising the rest.
These days, Edwards says, the sales are reversed.
Ollerenshaw shows off a variety of bands, some sporting yellow gold, some comprised of white gold or silver. A few catch the eye with floral designs, or colorful stones sparkling off the band. Ollerenshaw says he enjoys customizing wedding bands for couples looking to add flair to their rings, such as one that included sapphires around one edge of the band.
When asked what excites him about working with customers, Ollerenshaw says with a wry smile, “My favorite items are gone. We make custom pieces that are really unique and awesome, and I almost wish I could just make another one to stock here, but you can’t.”
What he does carry is a dizzying mix of necklaces, rings, earrings, and vintage items. From 14-karat Cuban-link necklaces to a Tahitian pearl necklace to 18K diamond-encrusted rings, the product list features both standard and standout jewelry with prices also ranging from the practical, such as $110 for 10K gold earrings to the eye-popping, such as a diamond-encrusted tennis bracelet selling for $5,000 and more.
It remains a third-generation family business, with Ollerenshaw’s cousin Ashley Pettitt working in sales and his mother managing bookkeeping and assisting with sales.
After growing up in Ajax and securing a business administration degree from Niagara College, Ollerenshaw graduated from the Gemological Institute of America in San Diego. “Completing this course and becoming a graduate gemologist allows me to assess and appraise jewelry for my customers,” says Ollerenshaw, “which is useful when it comes to ensuring jewelry or assessing estates.”
As for what trends he’s seen fall out of favor over the last decade, it’s charm bracelets and pendants with insignia like “No. 1 Dad” as well as thick, heavy gold necklaces. “The price of gold has gone up over the years, so that’s a factor for what people purchase,” Ollerenshaw says, of a cost that has arisen from $1,600 an ounce in 2017 to around $2,400 an ounce today.
Running a family business can be challenging, Ollerenshaw admits, but he cherishes his position. “I’ve always had an interest in jewelry and gems,” he says. “I liked the colours, the history, the design aspects. So this is such a good fit for me.”
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