Iconic is an overused superlative but apt when used to describe Prestons of Bolton, a showroom which traded from 1869 until it officially closed its doors for the last time in early 2017.
Established by goldsmith James Preston in 1869 it was his niece Gertrude Duckworth, a pioneering and entrepreneurial figure, who demolished the original store and built the four floor emporium in 1912 which was, and remained, the largest jewellery showroom in the United Kingdom until its closure.
Whilst Gertrude laid the foundations, both figuratively and metaphorically, it was her Grandson, Gordon, whose drive and genius for marketing put Prestons and their exceptional bridal collections on the national stage, becoming a household name. Using pioneering mail order techniques, advertising in the national press and offering easy payment plans, Prestons became the largest account for Omega watches in the United Kingdom. It was Omega who created their shop design in the 1960’s with the arcade entrance, symbolically, in the form of the Omega symbol.
It was television advertising that truly created the national brand of Prestons of Bolton. The highly creative and powerful campaigns made the showroom the destination for jewellery, specifically bridal jewellery. Throughout the decades’ couples travelled from all over the United Kingdom using the now famous strap line “It’s always worth a journey to the Diamond Centre of the North.” When creating these famous jewellery commercials, no expense was spared with the most famous commercial in fact shot on location in Times Square, New York.
These revolutionary campaigns truly embodied Prestons’ passion for bridal jewellery, especially the showroom’s famous selection of diamond engagement and wedding rings. Wedding Ring World was then a department all of its own, where every pattern or style was available in all widths, a selection of metals and every popular size. A record Saturday, in 1975, saw 168 wedding rings sold. It was indeed The Diamond Centre of the North.
Gordon Duckworth was a retail pioneer in many ways and from the original Bolton showroom Prestons expanded to Altrincham, Bury St Edmunds, Guildford, Ipswich, Wilmslow and York.
In 2004 the business fell into administration before being bought by Karl Massey’s company Nimogen who set about rebuilding both the landmark showroom but also the brand. By 2005 Prestons of Bolton, The Diamond Centre of the North, was back with a new suite of TV commercials and a new pioneering marketing campaign.
In 2016 the difficult but commercial decision was taken to close Prestons of Bolton, with the closure attracting media coverage ranging from The Manchester Evening News through to Retail Jeweller. Today, Prestons focuses on their three stores located in Guildford, Leeds and Wilmslow. Our showrooms now showcase the world's finest watch houses in Patek Philippe, Rolex and Tudor alongside an exquisite selection of fine jewellery and continue to offer the same exceptional service which made the Prestons name so famous.
One vision, two families and a reputation built over 150 years has seen Prestons become the first choice for generations of families whose trust in the business ensures its continued success.
To discover more about Prestons, please visit Why Prestons, our Heritage page or contact us.