By Lauren Caggiano
Jewelry adds some extra panache to one’s wardrobe—and Bradley Gough and his experienced team are here to make everyone shine a little brighter. The businessman—and hobby winemaker—has proven over the years he has what it takes to give customers what they want when they need it and on nearly any budget.
Q1: Tell me about your personal and professional backgrounds. How did you get into the business?
I have been in the jewelry business since 1978. Early in my career I worked for a store in Michigan and worked my way up into management. I discovered I loved the jewelry and the people. It was a great opportunity to learn about the jewelry business and grow professionally. Then in 1986, I took the leap at age 26 by branching out with my own venture in Fort Wayne, which is Bradley Gough Diamonds as we know it today.
Q2: What is your approach to business (and choosing jewelry)?
The neat part about this business is that you get to be an integral part of peoples’ most joyous occasions—something they’ll remember forever. It’s so fun to be part of such life events and help customers mark them with special jewelry pieces.
Having our own building and being a destination is part of our approach. From the outset, I wanted to carry unique jewelry and work with the best designers in the world. To that end, we have exclusive sales agreements with vendors and brands you won’t find anywhere else in Northeast Indiana. Our goal is to have unique and interesting jewelry in all different price ranges. We really want to sell to everyone who comes into the store.
Q3: Why should someone choose Bradley Gough Diamonds?
It really goes beyond price and customer service--although the low cost of living here means we pass the savings on to our customers. We really create an experience for our shoppers that you simply won’t find at the mall. Jewelry has special meaning to it for each person, so that means heirlooms are treated with the same respect and care as a $10,000 ring. We also don’t charge extra for warranties and service, unlike some chain stores. Last, being family-owned and locally operated means we can have more of an impact on the community. We are a supporter of many local charities.
Q4: Online retailers have gained market share in recent years. What is the benefit of shopping locally?
I have seen the way online retailers buy diamonds in bulk and it’s not good for the customer in the end, in terms of quality. No two diamonds are the same and I personally hand-pick all the gemstones that are sold in our store. People want to be part of the selection process, as it’s a very personal purchase, and we make that possible.
Q5: What trends are you expecting?
I expect current trends to persist. Millennials have driven trends in recent years. Their buying habits are very different than other generations. For example, they’re really about experiences and want to be educated. With the advent of smartwatches, they have started to wear watches again. They appreciate watches as fashion pieces and aren’t afraid to carve out their own sense of style.
Also, I expect yellow and rose gold to continue to be in demand. Rose gold especially provides a nice contrast to diamonds. Speaking of diamonds, we recently became the only area dealer of Forevermark® diamonds, which are responsibly sourced and distributed gems by DeBeers. Millennials tend to be more socially conscious and care about where their products come from.
Last, we are seeing more demand for one-of-a-kind pieces. Our in-store artists will work with you to design a custom piece—at no added cost. It really gives us an advantage over mall stores whose inventory is usually limited.