Thursday 18 January 2018

Jewellery store favoured by 'culchies' shuts after 45 years

CLOSING DOWN: Ken Dickson and his wife Bernadette. Photo: David Conachy
CLOSING DOWN: Ken Dickson and his wife Bernadette. Photo: David Conachy
Claire Mc Cormack

Claire Mc Cormack

It became a family tradition.

Country people, from every corner of the isle, came to get engaged at Dickson & Dickson jewellers on Dublin's O'Connell Street.

Generations of daughters believed it was a "good luck omen" to purchase their ring at the same store where their parents had bought their ring before embarking on a long and happy marriage.

But, after 45 years in business, the 'culchies' favourite jewellers is closing its doors.

Ken Dickson, who founded the business in 1971, said shoppers from outside Dublin made up most of their clientele.

"When we first opened, a lot of country people who worked in Dublin, came here to buy their jewellery," he said.

"My mother was from Wicklow, my father from Mayo and my Bernadette was a nurse from the west working in Crumlin Hospital so a lot of nurses came here for their engagement rings," he said.

"The country custom just mushroomed by word of mouth," he said.

During the 1970s and 1980s, Mr Dickson, says charms and charm bracelets were top sellers for country girls.

"It was all about marking milestones. It was a tradition in Ireland that when you reached 21 you got a key to the house, marking your responsibility," he said.

"Our charms represented those traditions so the girls could get a key-shaped charm with a ruby or sapphire or emerald stone inside," he said.

The business was so successful that Dickson & Dickson opened just one day a week.

"It was a really exciting time, I was 27 and fearless, I knew where I was heading for and I knew what I wanted, business exploded," he said.

Every Christmas, hundreds of shoppers queued on the six flights of stairs, up to the quaint little jewellery store.

But the boom also brought drastic changes.

Technology crushed the watch trade, online shopping arrived, and girls wanted to get hitched abroad.

Bernadette Dickson said: "If you weren't going to New York to get engaged you weren't marrying anyone. That's the way the country had gone."

Business really started to dip when the recession hit.

"In 2008 someone suddenly turned off the tap. There was no business. People got afraid, and they still haven't got back to a normal spend," said Ken.

However, the banks aren't forcing the iconic jewellers to close at the end of March.

"My lease is up and I'm not renewing it. The downturn in our business has come about because it is difficult to connect with the third generation of offspring," he said.

The business will live on through their website All Celtic Jewellery.

"We're selling our physical stock at a discount of almost 67pc. We want the people who put bread on our table to have first choice. It's emotional and tears will be shed," said Ken.

Sunday Independent

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