Now her employers are hoping that one of their most dedicated staff members can scoop the jewellery world’s equivalent of an Oscar.
Mary Waters, who manages the Keanes Jewellers outlet on Oliver Plunkett St in Cork City, is the only Irish jeweller shortlisted for the Retail Star of the Year award in the prestigious UK and Ireland Jewellery Awards.
It is one of two categories for which Keanes has been nominated — it is also in the running for its ‘start your own story’ marketing campaign, devised by its marketing manager Caron McMahon, who nominated Mary for the retail award.
“It’s a fantastic honour to be recognised by these — the Oscars of jewellery awards,” Caron said.
Mary, from Ballinlough, who began working with Keanes 21 years ago, has sold a remarkable 3,000 diamond rings — more than any other staff member.
The most expensive engagement sparkler she sold was a 2.5-carat, €27,000 whopper.
“Those sales are few and far between,” Mary said.
“These days, people are looking for the best value at the best price, and we certainly do that here.”
Mary said her secret is to treat every customer the same, and to never mention price or budget from the outset.
Whether a customer is buying a watch for €25 or for €25,000, they should receive the exact same level of courtesy and service, she said.
“I start off by showing them a selection of rings on a tray, with a range of prices. They pick up and look at the rings that are in their budget.
“From this, then I know what to show them without ever having to mention price — it’s a softer approach.
“The choice of styles can be overwhelming when looking at engagement rings and many times customers don’t know what they want.
“It’s my job to help them figure out what suits them. I want her to love the ring for the rest of her life, getting it right is so important.”
Caron said Mary has “lifetime customers”.
“Mary has customers who have started off buying engagement rings from her, then came back for their wedding bands and eternity rings, and once they had children, they are now bringing the next generation for ear piercing and communion gifts,” Caron said.
“Her ability to treat all customers equally is a shining example of the high level of service that we are proud to offer our customers.”
But Mary was also nominated for her work organising an in-store fundraising coffee and cake morning for Marymount Hospice every year, which raised €2,800 this year alone, and for her idea to create a ‘baby wall’ in the shop to celebrate staff members’ new arrivals.
This is the 20th year of the UK and Ireland Jewellery Awards. Mary will attend a gala dinner in the Natural History Museum in London on Jul 4 at which the winners will be announced.