Issue 111

On The Cover: Danny Thomas from Precision Jewellers 50th Anniversary Celebration - Photo by Trevor Booth. Tuxedo provided by Monty Formal Wear, 519-258-3522.

Precision Jewellers Celebrates 50 Years in Business

The first thing that becomes clear upon walking into Precision Jewellers, is that the customer is king. The atmosphere is relaxed, the staff is friendly, and the jewellery on display is like a “best of” contemporary design. At the counter displaying Shinola Detroit wrist watches, the words emblazoned in elegant font face upon the salmon-coloured Shinola brochure sets the tone for the entire store: “The era of disposability is over.”

The second thing is that custom jewellery may be more affordable than most people think.

“People come in all the time,” says owner Dan Thomas, “with an idea in their head, a picture from the Internet, and they say, ‘I want this.’”

Dan reaches into his desk drawer and pulls out a small box containing wax replicas of jewellery that are currently in the design process. He describes how each piece began as a simple idea, each very meaningful to the individual customer.

“The first thing we do when people come in is listen. Our customers know what they want and it’s up to us to see it as they do.

“These,” he says, indicating the ring molds in the box, taking some out, displaying their intricate designs, “were designed in CAD, but maybe you have an idea or come in with a picture from a magazine, I can...”

He flips open a “findings” catalogue the size of a 1970s telephone book... “I can go the catalogue and find the pieces we need to make the ring or pendant you want.

“You see, we used to do this all by hand,” he explains. It’s clear that Dan loves his work, as he reaches into his desk drawer and takes out a paper-clip and a pair of pliers. With the deft touch of a master craftsman, Dan bends the paper-clip into a rough replica of pendant in a matter of seconds, giving it rabbit ears, all the while explaining how he would work out the shape with wire, how it would take days to do what they can now do in hours.

“Now, we can order unfinished, unpolished findings and build your piece exactly the way you want it. A guy can come in here on Wednesday and tell us, ‘I’m getting married on Saturday,’ and I can have his rings made by Friday.”

For the uninitiated, custom jewellery may seem out of reach; the word itself, “custom”, seems adorned with dollar and DO NOT ENTER signs, visions of custom cars, custom homes, all to the soundtrack of a relentlessly ringing cash register.

As Dan Thomas explains it, custom jewellery may well be the more economical route to memorializing an event, such as a birthday or anniversary.

“You’re dealing direct when you come to Precision Jewellers. You’re not paying for a name. There is no middleman. We don’t send the jewellery out to be made. We do it all right here. When you’re dealing with Precision, you’re talking to the guy who’s going to make the piece of jewellery and ensure that you leave with exactly what you want.”

Precision Jewellers began in 1966 as a wholesaler that supplied twenty jewellery stores around Canada. Master jeweller Ralph Parrott was the original owner. The original location was on the third floor of a building on Pitt Street. “There was a rickety old elevator with an accordion door that brought you up there. There was a peephole on the shop door. Back then, Precision was a wholesaler, supplying stores around Canada.”

According to a 2015 Windsor Star article: [Dan] Thomas apprenticed under Parrott, who “was the only master goldsmith in the area at the time,” says Thomas. “A few jewellers worked for Ralph—everyone knew he was the only one who really knew the trade.”

Thomas worked for Parrott for four years, before becoming a partner in 1991. Four years later, Thomas’ cousin and business partner John Shiha joined the Precision partnership, and bought out Parrott’s share.

With a marketing background, Shiha helped Thomas move Precision Jewellers into a new era.

Dan Thomas knows his stuff. He is a certified Gemologist with the Canadian Gemological Association as well as a Master Goldsmith and a diamond setter. More than that, he knows how to make it all work. He has the capacity to envision other people’s dreams.

“We’re the only jewellery store in the city that does what we do,” he says, “When the competition is asked to create a custom design, they come to people like Precision Jewellers. We have an exceptional staff. We employ two master jewellers and a gemologist.”

When asked about the most memorable or outlandish custom designs Precision has done, Dan is not quick to volunteer examples. There are plenty, but foremost in his mind is customer’s satisfaction and privacy. “I’ll say this—we’ve had people who were very comfortable spending six figures on custom jewellery with us. They had confidence in our abilities. We’ve never missed a deadline.”

Beyond the showroom, Precision Jewellers contributes to the community. Among its charity partners is Transition 2 Betterness, which is dedicated to providing comfort for those impacted by a lifealtering illness. Dan’s business partner—and first cousin—John Shiha is a Deacon at St. Anne’s parish in Tecumseh and active with Second Chance Ministry.

No matter the success Precision attains, the accolades they receive, Dan Thomas and his staff never lose sight of the reason for that success: their customers.

“We’re honoured that people trust us to help them memorialize the most cherished moments in their lives,” Dan says. “We wouldn’t be here without our customers.”

Precision Jewellers has locations on Howard Avenue in Windsor and on Richmond Street in Amherstburg and you can visit them online at www.precisionjewellers.com.

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