Catherine Jones, founder of the eponymous Cambridge jeweller, has passed away aged 95.
The retail jeweller has been an industry stalwart for the past 50 years since she started her career in the business by selling costume jewellery from a counter in a hairdressers in 1964.
Building on these humble beginnings Jones’ business boomed in the 1960s, when she opened her own shop, as the concept of boutiques became popular. In the 1970s Catherine Jones Jewellery moved on from costume jewellery and began to sell fine jewels.
Jones’ kind attitude won her respect and admiration from the jewellery designers that she worked with, some of whom she helped financially to further their careers or stay in business through tough times.
Leading jeweller Paul Spurgeon was a close friend of Jones and has spoken of her passion as a jeweller. He said: “I believe Catherine was unique amongst lovers of jewellery and people. She led from the front, not driven by fiscal dogma but a passion and love of the people she chose to work with and I consider myself fortunate to have been one of the chosen few. I, like many, had a soft spot for Catherine and her sensitive and respectful way in which she conducted herself on all occasions, and I for one will miss this remarkable lady.”
The business is still in family hands after it was taken over in 2003 by Jones’ daughter Vanessa Burkitt and grandson Mathew Burkitt. In the past decade the business has grown to become a full-service designer and manufacturer and has also launched an online store at catherinejones.com that attracts customers from all over the globe.
Matthew Burkitt, who is now finance director at Catherine Jones Jewellery, said: “We have learned that her life touched many thousands of people. She will be sorely missed but her legacy continues through her creation of Catherine Jones Jewellery and through the Catherine Jones Foundation which builds schools in her native India.”
Jones started out life on a Himalayan hillside overlooking the lake of Nainital in India, born to a highly influential Anglo-Indian family – her father was a judge in the Indian civil service and her grandfather Sir William Burkitt was a high court judge and chief justice of United Provinces – but moved to England when she was two years old following the death of her father.
The jeweller has always been proud of her connection with India and so set up The Catherine Jones Foundation in 2005. On her death she the foundation has set itself a memorial fundraising target of £100,000 to build a new school for 1,000 children and provide education scholarships.
Vanessa Burkitt, who is a co-trustee of the foundation, is urging those in the industry who knew Jones to make a donation to the charity in her memory. She added: “We invite all those who knew her to commemorate Catherine’s life by making a donation to the fund. Every penny raised goes direct to the field.”
Professional Jeweller readers wishing to make a contribution to The Catherine Jones Foundation can do so online through Just Giving by using this link.