Norwich market stallholder swapped science for silver to enter his trade

Carole Black and Chris Pierce at one of three of their jewellery stalls, Norwich Goldsmiths. Picture

Carole Black and Chris Pierce at one of three of their jewellery stalls, Norwich Goldsmiths. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY - Credit: Copyright: Archant 2016

A jeweller on Norwich market swapped science for silver when he decided to train as a watch repairer.

Carole Black and Chris Pierce's jewellery stall, Norwich Goldsmiths. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

Carole Black and Chris Pierce's jewellery stall, Norwich Goldsmiths. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY - Credit: Copyright: Archant 2016

But Chris Pierce, of Olivia's stall, still uses his scientific know-how today on one of the three family stalls.

Mr Pierce, 59, started off with a zoology degree from Leeds University.

'But when I saw Quartz watches start to appear I realised the industry was going to make big changes, and I saw an opportunity,' he said.

He retrained in Manchester, and ended up working in Jarrold's, in Norwich, on a watch repair concession.

Two of Carole Black and Chris Pierce's three jewellery stalls, Olivia's Silver Jewellery and Watch S

Two of Carole Black and Chris Pierce's three jewellery stalls, Olivia's Silver Jewellery and Watch Strap and Batteries. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY - Credit: Copyright: Archant 2016

'That's where I learned all about customer service,' he said.

But he also worked alongside his partner, Carole Black, who had also been his assistant at a previous store.

Most Read

When the opportunity arose, he moved onto a stall on Norwich market.

And it's a real family affair, as although Mr Pierce started off with Watch Repair Workshop two decades ago, his son Daniel is now at the helm.

A Royal London skeleton pocket watch at Carole Black and Chris Pierce's stall Watch Strap and Batter

A Royal London skeleton pocket watch at Carole Black and Chris Pierce's stall Watch Strap and Batteries. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY - Credit: Copyright: Archant 2016

Then seven years ago Ms Black took on Norwich Goldsmith's on the front of the market.

Somewhere in between Mr Pierece opened Olivia's, which specialises in silver and amber.

Olivia's was named after the couple's daughter, who works as a nurse.

'The reason for all three is the jewellery and watch industry changes very quickly. People need simple repairs doing quickly.

A moonstone ring at Carole Black and Chris Pierce's jewellery stall, Olivia's Silver Jewellery. Pict

A moonstone ring at Carole Black and Chris Pierce's jewellery stall, Olivia's Silver Jewellery. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY - Credit: Copyright: Archant 2016

'We never know how the market is going to change and we do an awful lot of services.'

He said at the moment the price of gold was high, so Norwich Goldsmith's was doing wel..

As well as selling jewellery and watches, the stalls offer repairs, engraving, ear piercing and welding.

'We do it all,' Mr Pierce added.

A Tahitian Baroque black pearl necklace at Carole Black and Chris Pierce's jewellery stall, Norwich

A Tahitian Baroque black pearl necklace at Carole Black and Chris Pierce's jewellery stall, Norwich Goldsmiths. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY - Credit: Copyright: Archant 2016

'We've been here for 20 years, I wanted somewhere I could have a fully equipped workshop.'

And Mr Pierce does have the top technology, with his workshop looking more like the laboratories he might have been more used to in his student days.

'The key thing is we don't need to send things away, we do it all here.'

He said going forward, he felt the market needed to change.

'It needs help because it needs to be made easier for people to come onto.'

But he enjoyed being in the centre of the city, offering people the services they need.

Why the market matters

Mr Pierce said he moved onto the market for it's 'excellent location.'

He said: 'It's easy to interact with people, because most people like to speak to the repairer rather than have you send it away.

'That's what we're about.'

He said, as a jeweller, that being in a stall could actually be seen as more secure.

'In a strange way, there are so many stories these days of people in jewellery shops being robbed, people go in and take over for ten minutes.

'Here we're always surrounded by people, and of course we have big safes. Carole said to me when I opened Watch Repair Workshop that we didn't want to be in a store.'

He added that the stallholders were the reason to support the market.

'The people who are running market stalls know everything about their products, they're not part of a corporate machine, and they can offer something which can't always be found elsewhere at the same quality.'

Beautiful pieces available on all three stalls

Whether you're looking for a gift for someone special, or to treat yourself, any of the family's three stalls will have something on offer for you.

At the high end of the spectrum, Norwich Goldsmith's offer Tahitian black pearls, at £750.

Ms Black said: 'They're naturally occurring in that colour, from black lip oysters.'

Mr Pierce added: 'People see these on QVC where they sell for around £1,200.'

At the Watch Repair Workshop, a Royal London skeleton pocket watch would set you back £119, including the chain, with details showing in inner workings of the watch.

'It's the perfect present for a husband or boyfriend,' Mr Pierce said.

And on Olivia's, Mr Pierce was proud to show off a moonshine ring, at £40.

'It's sterling silver and labradorite,' he said. 'A really nice fashionable gift.'

Become a Supporter

This newspaper has been a central part of community life for many years. Our industry faces testing times, which is why we're asking for your support. Every contribution will help us continue to produce local journalism that makes a measurable difference to our community.

Become a Supporter