A 24 carat company

Galaxy & Co. Jewellers is providing the best in diamonds, gold and more in the most beautiful, passionate way

At Galaxy & Co. Jewellers, it is all about diamonds, each with a true uniqueness that should be treasured and polished. This mantra has created a privately-owned esteemed player in the South African jewellery market, selling everything from plain and white gold to pearls, watches, tanzanite and coloured stones, and, of course, diamonds. The firm began as a manufacturer in 1930 and, when the price of gold spiked in 1981, its owners decided to seize the opportunity and branch out into retail stores. Growing from one store to another, now with a total of 85, the group was sold in 1996 by its original owner to South Africa’s retail giant Mr. Price Group. Of course, as Stephan Olivier, the group’s chief executive says, with so many decades in the business Galaxy has seen plenty of developments.

“Going back to the original factory, the products were always very good quality and made to a very high standard,” he recalls.

“One of the customers eventually stopped buying from Galaxy because they had gone from being just a supplier to an impressive opponent. We are now a pure retail business.”

A pure retail business with an instantly recognisable company signature, that is. Handling precious stones is, by its nature, a discreet and hallowed craft. At Galaxy every stone, person and purchaser represents a very special occasion.

A high ranking retailer

Today production mainly involves diamond-finished products such as wedding bands and engagement rings, and Olivier explains that these products have been in such demand in South Africa that Galaxy was required to expand its number of retail outlets.

“There was a very close connection between production and sale. It is what we call vertical integration—straight from factory floor to store display.”

In synergy with its ongoing expansion of outlets, the group remains true to its South African roots by working with two of the country’s chief raw materials; gold and diamonds.

“These make up 70 per cent of our total sales,” says Olivier. “The products represent South Africa and its incredible raw materials very well.”

It has long been the case that when the economy takes a dive—as people the world over have seen given the global financial crisis—investor and everyday consumer appetite alike trends towards items and investments that have long been hailed as precious, namely gold and diamonds. And while financial institutions may alter their funding objectives, our daily lives continue; we celebrate, we marry, we buy gifts for one another. A global embrace of all things valuable, particularly precious metals and stones, coupled with the unrelenting need people have for fine jewellery and gifts, has enabled Galaxy to establish an enviable platform as a compassionate and powerful retailer.

“There is a lot of emotion attached, especially for women,” Olivier says.

“In South Africa we find that a woman wants something special to mark the occasion of engagement or marriage, and there isn’t anything on this earth more special than a diamond ring.”

In this light, we can see why Galaxy treats every person as an individual diamond. Seldom do businesses prosper, again and again, while retaining an upfront regard and passion for human emotion. As Olivier rightly says, a diamond ring signifies everything many hold dear, and at Galaxy that passion is celebrated through superior jewellery.

Diamonds are forever

With Galaxy’s lifetime guarantee on diamonds bought, TABJ poses the question, are diamonds really forever?

“Absolutely,” says Olivier.

“Even through tough times, for example the recession when people saw diamonds as a luxury item, there was still a demand for them.”

He points out that there has also been an upturn as the economy in the last few months and global markets are beginning to shows signs of recovery.

“In our business the diamond will always be king. Just look how they compare to other materials—a silver retailer has to sell 100 bands for every one diamond ring.”

Perhaps the most apt proverb is South Africa’s own “once you have found your first diamond, you will never give up looking.” Whether it is your first, your fourth or your millionth diamond, Galaxy has what you are looking for; that single totally unique gem to symbolise whatever in your life compels you to celebrate. The group’s growth and ability to position itself ahead of demand is well demonstrated, it has been the case for more than 80 years, and in order to understand the experience, not just high end products offered by Galaxy, there is no substitute for a diamond occasion itself. Until August 7, 2011, the group is offering an annual extravaganza where you can find your diamond for less. Need we say more?