"The Chinese were ecstatic when the lads produced watches engraved with the famous Rolex Crown”
Buy a special something at Noosa Village Showcase Jewellers and odds are you will probably be regaled with a story from the rich family history of the Priest’s Family Jewellers legacy.
“I guess that’s what makes us special,” says Charles Priest, who is a third generation jeweller, and who with his wife Ingrid has grown Noosa Village Jewellers over the last 20 years into the success story that it is today.
“Before that we were in Gunnedah”, there’s a hint of pride in his voice as he talks about how his Father Alex Priest, established the Jewellers in Gunnedah, NSW in 1945 after his release from Changi Prison when the War ended.
“We’re 70 years old this year, we’ve had our ups and downs, but Noosa’s been good to us”, says Charles’ son Pete who has watched the business change and grow over the course of his lifetime.
Alex was a Watchmaker, and his Father also named Charles had a jewellery store in Glen Innes.
“It wasn’t Dad who told me about the watches in Changi”, you’ll often hear Charles say while working over the bench on a repair. An old work colleague told me back in my NRMA days about the watches”.
“In Changi, Dad taught his mates to put together watches from old watch parts that the Singapore Chinese used to give them and he and his mates would give the repaired watches back to the Chinese for extra rations.
“One of the boys worked at the Australian mint before he enlisted, so he had a good eye and a steady hand for engraving. The Chinese were ecstatic when the lads produced watches engraved with the famous Rolex Crown”, he says smiling.
“Thus began the copy Rolex trade in Asia”, Pete chimes in mischievously. “And it probably kept them alive”, Charles concludes.
This story is one among many others that gives Noosa Village Jewellers its family reputation.
“That’s not to say it’s all about the story”, says Pete fresh back from a diamond grading course with Showcases own Craig Miller at head office in Sydney. “Yes”, says Charles. “We really do strive for quality in all we do, our customers are very important to us and we like to think that they can find things with us not readily
available at the chain stores down the road. Well that and we still charge very little for the easy repairs, two, three and five dollar jobs are common which is often pleasantly surprising for our customers in today’s tough market. Even our watch battery replacement is the least expensive in town”.
But peer beyond the chat and bravado and you’ll see that Charles breadth of knowledge in the industry particularly in diamonds is what has won the respect of the village.
“Dad likes to foster growth”, comments Pete. “Dad’s a Rotarian and just wants what’s best for Showcase and the independent Jeweller”.
It’s because of this type of attitude that Showcase has benefited from Millers Diamonds and the Miller family who Charles introduced to the Showcase group well over a decade ago.
“We want our customers to feel great about themselves, says Ingrid and that has as much to do with our wonderful staff of Shelley, Carol and Jenny as it has to do with the Jewellery itself”.
“We’re here for the big moments in your life that you want to celebrate and commemorate”, says Ingrid. “So it’s really important to us to listen and really understand why our customer is shopping with us.
And Ingrid should know, because she has been a driving force behind the business and underpins the success in all the store has achieved.
“We count ourselves very fortunate to be part of the Noosa community and all that the lifestyle has on offer”, says Charles, we are proud of our roots and really feel that our long history benefits the fine jewellery consumer”.
So next time you are visiting Noosa Village, know that your Noosa Village Showcase Jewellers really is your personal jeweller because it’s a store steeped in tradition and old school values. The fact that an independent family jeweller is still thriving in the region is a testament to the spirit of the Noosa Community.
“OF THE PRISONERS OF WAR RELEASED FROM CHANGI PRISON CAMP AFTER THE SURRENDER OF THE JAPANESE, ONE GROUP WAS EVACUATED BY THE HOSPITAL SHIP MANUNDA TO AUSTRALIA. A SECOND GROUP WAS FLOWN FROM SINGAPORE CIVIL AIRPORT TO LABUAN ISLAND TO RECEIVE MEDICAL TREATMENT BEFORE BEING MOVED ONTO AUSTRALIA. SHOWN, NX40699 SERGEANT ALEXANDER JOHN PRIEST, 2/18TH INFANTRY BATTALION, MOVING OUT TO BOARD THE AIRCRAFT FOR LABUAN.”