“The shop is an extension of our personality" - Chesterfield award-winning indie jewellers on what makes them 'different'

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“The shop is an extension of our personality, I think. So I would hope, if you were to walk into the shop and meet us you’d go yeah, I see how you fit together.”

“It’s like when we found the shop, it’s a little bit like falling in love, which is how it feels when you find the right piece of jewellery. People coming in, looking for something different.”

And different is certainly what the Adorn jewellery shop is.

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Run by Laura Jo Owen, 40, and her husband Adam, 45, with help from their ‘assistant’ one-year-old Heathcliff – a friendly dog who “loves seeing people” – the shop started in 2010, in the Middle Shambles in Chesterfield.

Laura Jo, Adam and HeathcliffLaura Jo, Adam and Heathcliff
Laura Jo, Adam and Heathcliff

Laura Jo and Adam curate a jewellery shop that sees “different” come together, each cabinet the work of a particular indie designer with a particular style, and yet the overall collective feels like it belongs together. Derbyshire Blue John versus pieces of “Dionysus Greek legends, you know, gods turning into animals”. Handmade Indian spinner rings versus sculptural amber with ‘insects inside’.

And does this mix of different reflect this wife and husband team? Laura Jo laughs.

“We get on very well, and we know when to give each other some space. Adam’s good fun, he’s very easy to work with, and we’re both good at different things. I always say I’m the clock-face, so if I’ve said to you ‘Yeah, we can do that’, it’ll be Adam that goes ‘Right, we need to work out how to do that now then’. So yeah, I’m the clock-face, and he’s the workings.”

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Together now for twenty years, married for ten, Laura Jo and Adam met while working at Butlin’s, and then they went off together to work on cruise ships.


“We were in entertainment. Adam was the entertainments manager, and I was in the entertainments team. And, I always put a covenant in to say we were together before he was my boss.”

Laura Jo laughs as she says this, her soft glow of strength apparent. You get the feeling that here is someone who knows herself well.

“Gut instinct. I think you ignore it at your peril. It’s very rare I go against what I feel, but when I have done it’s not been the right decision. It’s like a little spark, and you’ve got that chance of yeah we’ll extinguish that, or, we’ll fan it and make it into a flame. And when you do that, it’s when it works out for you I think.”

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So how did this trusting of instinct take Laura Jo and Adam from working on a cruise ship to running an award-winning independent jewellers in Chesterfield?


“We used to write home all the time, and say, ‘wish we were there’. And when we really meant it, we thought we’d better come back. So we did, and I looked around for jobs, and I worked for a jeweller.”

“I used to go out to markets and different places, and source these independent designers for my own jewellery. People would say ‘Oh I really like what you’re wearing’. I said to Adam, you know what, I think there’s something there. People like this jewellery, and they can’t find it. The designers are really good at designing and making, but it’s like they feel they’re bigging themselves up too much if they sell their own things. And they’re so talented!”

And here is where Laura Jo’s gut instinct took her and Adam to the next part of this story - setting up their own jewellery shop.

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“I saw it, and it was covered in scaffold outside. It had no floor. It’d had everything ripped out. It’d been empty for two years, and it was cold. And when I walked in I said ‘Hello beautiful’, and I said to myself ‘Yeah, here we are… definitely’.”

In the office living roomIn the office living room
In the office living room

Any nerves about making such a dramatic step? “Definitely. Nervous, but excited to do it. There’s a great photo of me on the first day. I’m standing there, and there’s an actual real customer there, and this thing that you’ve created all of a sudden is real. People coming in and buying things that you’ve chosen and handpicked. And my mum was there with me, and she said ‘Do you want to perhaps get that piece out for that lady?’ and I was like ‘Oh… yeah’. And I was just so overwhelmed that this person was here in this shop that we’d created, that I’d not even thought to say ‘Would you like to try that on?’”

This humble moment takes us back to the shop being an extension of Laura Jo and Adam. Looking around, the counter is an old display cabinet that once belonged to Adam’s grandma, and behind that, a cosy office space that looks like a tiny living room?

“Yeah, that exactly! Just somewhere where we can be comfortable, so when someone comes in, they can feel comfortable too. So when they come in, we’re not going to stand on your shoulder and watch you as you walk round. We’ll sit, and we’ll chill out. And we’re here if you need us. Let us know and we’ll pop things out, and you can try them on, or you can just come in and browse.”

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Smiling, Laura Jo adds: “Adam says browsing is a national pastime, and we thoroughly endorse that… You don’t need to buy anything. If you see something you like, great, if you don’t, it doesn’t matter, just have a bit of fun.”

Here seems another big difference between the independent and the chain stores. No pressured sales pitch, more of a sense of happy to see you. Which Heathcliff the dog most certainly is, if you’re happy for an exchange of head pats for a hand lick.

How does it feel to see a customer leave happy? “It’s an amazing feeling. It’s made me cry a couple of times. My customers are my ‘sparklies’. They’ll text me sometimes if they’ve been bought a piece for a surprise. So on Christmas Day my phone is going beep-beep, beep-beep… I love this! And it’s so lovely… I think every piece that we’ve got in the shop is waiting for somebody. So it goes on this journey, gets created, I discover it, curate it into the collection, and then the right person walks in the door and goes ‘Yeah, that’s for me’.

Blue JohnBlue John
Blue John

“Sometimes I personally shop as well. So if somebody’s looking for a particular gemstone, when I’m out then I’ll say ‘Yeah, that’s for this person, they’ll love that!’ And I’ll send them a photo and say look what I’ve found!”

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And here is where Laura Jo’s gut instinct comes into play again. “It’s got to make you feel something, the jewellery. So some of the pieces I just love, and some of the pieces I think ‘Ooh, that’s crazy’, but I know somebody will love it. So if it makes you feel something, it’s going to make somebody else feel something as well.”

How does it feel to sell someone their wedding rings? “It’s beautiful. And it sounds very twee to say it’s a privilege, but it is an absolute privilege to have somebody say this is going to be with me forever. And we’re right there at the beginning of that story.”

You can see Laura Jo is quite emotional when she says this. She takes a sip of tea, smiles when asked how she sees her place in the Chesterfield independent scene.

“When we were setting up we knew it had to be Chesterfield because it’s so friendly. Even though you’re working in your smaller shop, you’re part of that bigger community. There’s so many jewellers in Chesterfield but we all work together because we all do our own thing, we’ve all got our niche.”

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“Our ‘sparklies’ are part of the community too. I’ve always been perhaps, not mainstream? I’m looking for a word other than strange…” She laughs, pauses, then with a slight frown says: “And you think ‘Oh I don’t fit’, you know, when you’re growing up… so with us doing drama and theatre and that kind of thing.

"Our customers have helped me grow up through the business. I started when I was 29, now I’m 40, and it feels like coming home because they’re very similar to me. They’re really friendly. They’re a massive support.”

And what’s ahead for Adorn? Will it still be Chesterfield? “If you were looking for a word for Chesterfield it would be ‘strive’, because everybody feels like they’re reaching, really pulling the future toward us, but all together, as a community, as a town. We’ve been here coming up to twelve years. Next year we’re going to look at starting our own collection, which is very exciting. They’ll be made here in Chesterfield. We’ll work in silver, so it’ll be bangles, pendants, rings, that sort of thing.”

Laura Jo smiles, looks to her hand. “We made each other’s wedding rings. I made Adam’s, and he made mine.”

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