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Life as a fourth-generation jeweller

FAMILY: Josh and Neil Watson are continuing a proud family legacy at Watsons Jewellers. Picture: Paul Scambler You could say a love of jewellery runs in the Watson family.
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Since 1925the family businesshas been creating one of a kind pieces and breathing new life into treasured Tasmanian heirlooms.

In February, 20-year-old Josh Watson became the fourth generation totake up the craft at the family business.

With his father and current store manager Neil Watson watching on, Josh said hehad“fallen in love” with jewellery making and was proud to be continuing the family legacy.

“It’s always something I have wanted to do, but it was more a case of timing,” he said.

“I got my first feel for it as part of a grade eight project I was assigned at Scotch Oakburn.

“I came into the workshop, got my hands dirty as they say and I just fell in love with it.

“Now that I am here I just can’t get enough of it.”

Watsons Jewellers was first established in 1925 by Josh’s great-grandfather Bob Watson.

At the time the store was located at99a St John Street, in a humble space the “size of a shoebox”.

The second generation to enter the business was Bob’s son Ray Watson, who joined his father as a 15-year-old straight out of school.

Both skilled watchmakers, Bob worked at the store for 45 years until his death.

Ray’s career as a jeweller spanned 54 years, before his retirement in2004.

He said the family craft was like the son of a farmer being born knowing how to milk a cow –you either have it or you don’t.

With his grandson now taking on the profession, Ray said the store had always prided itself on having strong family values.

Life as a fourth-generation jeweller Robert Henry Edward Watson and Raymond Edward Watson in 1950.

Neil and Carolyn Watson with Louise Snare (Watson), Tony and Phillipa June Watson.

FAMILY: Josh and Neil Watson are continuing a proud family legacy at Watsons Jewellers. Picture: Paul Scambler

FAMILY: Josh Watson is continuing a proud family legacy at Watsons Jewellers. Picture: Paul Scambler

FAMILY: Josh Watson is continuing a proud family legacy at Watsons Jewellers. Picture: Paul Scambler

FAMILY: Josh and Neil Watson are continuing a proud family legacy at Watsons Jewellers. Picture: Paul Scambler

TweetFacebook Watsons Jewellers through the yearsWith a near 100 year history, Watsons Jewellers has had many changes through the years. “It’sa pretty big deal, to see Josh step up,” he said.

“Four generations in one business, that is rare these days and especially for a jewellers.

“In my time at the store the emphasis was always on the service.

“All of the staff we had were like family and we treated them like family.

“Our customers always appreciated that.”

After a move to the Quadrant Mall in the mid 80s, WatsonsJewellers was established at its current sight on Brisbane Street.

For third generation Neil, he said jewellery making was in his blood.

“I think for all of uswegrew up with the store there, but it was never forced upon us as a career,” he said.

“It has happened very naturally, for me at least.

“I always knew it was something I would go into.

“I left school when I was 15, so a bit younger than Josh.

“Ijust walked straight in and have never looked back.”

With a traditional workshop located directly above the retail space,Watsons has been repairing diamonds, watches and jewellery for almost 100 years.

In that time Neil said there hadn’t been many problems they weren’t able to fix, but the family had always put an emphasis on evolving with the times.

“Jewellery stores have certainly faced their challenges over the years,” he said.

“When my great-grandfather started, there would have been 10 watch repairers in Launceston alone.

“Now there would be about three.

“It is somewhat of an ageing industry, so that’s why it’s so good to see someone like Josh just starting out.

“The jewellery side came later and became more prominent over the years than just fixing watches.

“It has been a real journey for our family and something that has evolved from the smallest store to what we have now.

“We have always been aware of the changing retail status.

“Like many businesses, it is something that is changing all the time.

“We need to be able to change with it.

“But there is a certain romance associated with jewellery making.

“I don’t think that has change over the years.”

With a full-time jewellery maker now helping to teach Josh the skills of the trade, he said the new career path was more than just a job.

“It is really hands on, that is what I love about it,” he said.

“Getting up close with the pieces – it is really intricate work.

“I am just starting really, so still have a lot to learn.

“But my family obviously means a lot to me, so it is nice to know I am carrying on that family legacy.

“This is something I am really proud of, so I suppose it is about more than just coming to work every day.”

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