Sanders of Remuera: The Family Jewellers

Mark Sanders didn't set out to become a jeweller, but a chance encounter saw him trade plans to work in accountancy for a more glittering career.

Has Sanders Jewellers been in the family for generations, Mark, or did you start it?
My wife Cheryl and I opened the first Sanders Jewellers in St Heliers 25 years ago, then the shop here in Remuera a year later.  If you ask our daughter, Lucy, the same question in 30 or 40 years' time, hopefully by then the answer will be that yes, it has been in the family for generations!

Sanders Jewellers sapphire necklace

So will Lucy take over at some point?
That's the plan.  Once upon a time she didn't want to be 'shop keepers like mum and dad are' but after finishing school and work experience eslewhere, Lucy is now an integral part of Sanders Jewellers - her and Frankie.

Lucy's huntaway cross.  You might have seen her sunning on the pavement outside the shop!  She comes in every day with Lucy.

Do you have other children, and do they have an interest in the business?
We have two sons as well, both of whom have worked in the shop at various times.  But now, James is an architect doing his OE in London, and John is a mechanic at Volkswagen Continental Cars.

Sanders Jewellers gold watches

Have you always wanted to be a jeweller?
I was very good at maths and book-keeping, so I was originally going to be an accountant!  Being a jeweller didn't cross my mind until I was head-hunted by a well-known jewellery wholesale company.

So you found your passion?
Yes, and I've been in it since 1976.  First as a sales rep travelling and servicing the bottom half of the north island, then in 1986 Cheryl and I started our own manufacturing and wholesaling business, before opening the shops.

Why did you decide to open a shop here in Remuera?
It was an existing jewellery shop for sale, so it was ideal.

Sanders Jewellers mens watches

So there has always been a jewellery shop in this location?
Well, for around half a century there has been!  Firstly Avenue Jewellers, then Gary Mahan Antiques.

Did you train to become a jeweller?
No, it's just years (and years!) of experience.  Lucy and I design bespoke pieces for our clients using CAD design software and 3D imagery, and we employ a jeweller (who works out of our St Heliers shop).

Sanders Jewellers pearl necklace

Aside from the bespoke jewellery, where do you source stock from?
We buy the majority from Germany, Hong Kong, Australia, America and Italy.  I go to the jewellery fairs in Australia once a year, and we have reps from all over the world calling on us.

What's the most unique piece of jewellery you've sold?
Well I can't give too much detail due to confidentiality, but I can say we turned a 10 carat round diamond into a ring.  The diamond was the size of my thumbnail.

Sanders Jewellers nerides necklaces

Do people still buy jewellery as a gift?
These days it is mostly self-purchase; necklaces, watches, rings for the right hand.  And of course engagement and wedding rings.

It must be hard buying gifts for Cheryl, given she also works in the jewellery business?
Yes... but that doesn't stop her dropping hints!  I did have a diamond bracelet made for her, for her birthday.

What do you do in your spare time?
I play golf twice a week - so you're not likely to see me in the shop on a Friday afternoon!  We also love to socialise, and we try to get away to our beach house at Waihi Beach on a regular basis and overseas at least once a year.

Is there anything people would be surprised to know about you?
No.  I'm Joe Average!

Sanders Jewellers
385 Remuera Road
Ph:  09 520 3630

Photos by Vanita Andrews and words by Fiona Wilson.  This article first appeared in the May 2017 issue of The Hobson.