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Belfast jewellery store owners enjoy Rich List debut


The owners of Belfast-based fashion jewellery retailer, Argento, have made their debut in The Sunday Times’ annual Rich List.

Joining the owners of Warren James and Boodles in the definitive guide of the UK’s richest 1,000 people, husband and wife duo, Peter Boyle and Ciara Denvir, were welcomed as a new entry.

The owners of award-winning jewellery retail chain, Argento, have seen their fortunes rise to £122m, earning them the spot in the iconic Rich List for the very first time.

While the pair own the jewellery retail business, which is based in Belfast but has stores across the UK, their fortunes don’t fully rely on Argento.

In fact, Boyle and Denvir recently took a year away from their jewellery business to concentrate on renovating Ormiston House, the Belfast mansion that was once home to Lord Pirrie, the former chairman of Harland & Wolff, which built the Titanic.

The Sunday Times reports: “When the couple bought the property for £1.5m in 2015 it was derelict, with grand rooms turned into makeshift toilets, strip lighting screwed into ornate plasterwork and extensive vandalism. Boyle and Denvir set up their own construction firm to deliver the three-year job. ‘That gave us more control and more time,’ said Denvir, a barrister. ‘If something was more tedious we were prepared to go down that route where a contractor might not be’.”

Boyle began his entrepreneurial career as a teenager selling mirrors and jewellery at the Ballyshannon folk festival in Donegal. He quickly set up shop at other festivals and began trading from a street stall in Belfast’s Royal Avenue during his student days. He bought a 1978 Austin Maxi — the first hatchback produced in Britain, also featuring reclining seats — and travelled 18,000 miles around Ireland, sleeping in the vehicle each night.

He opened his first Argento store in 1998, aiming to sell quality, modern jewellery in a gallery-style setting.

Today the jewellery retailer stocks some of the biggest names, with retail stores in over 20 locations.

The Sunday Times says of the Argento business: “There were profits of £14.3m on £51.2m turnover in 2017-18, putting a £120m valuation on the operation, which is wholly owned by the husband and wife, who also received an £8m dividend in 2016-17.”

The publication continues: “We add £2.6m combined assets in two other ventures, plus dividends, Ormiston House and other interests to their fortune. A keen kayaking fan for more than 25 years, Boyle bought Knockbracken Reservoir on the outskirts of Belfast and has transformed it into a watersports facility.”

The Sunday Times’ Rich List also cited a £8m rise in fortunes for the owners of Warren James, brother and sister duo John Coulter and Ann Jones. The siblings are now worth £545m.

Like the owners of Argento, they also earn their wealth through other means, with the pair having a stake in the group that owned Pinewood fil studios, which was sold for £323m in 2016.

The owners of British jewellery luxury retail chain, Boodles, also enjoyed a rise in wealth over the last 12 months, with the publication revealing a £7m rise in fortunes for Michael and Nicholas Wainwright to £127m.

At £5.6bn and 3.8bn respectively, Nicholas F. Oppenheimer and Laurence Graff remain the wealthiest in the UK jewellery industry, although both experienced a loss in wealth between the 2019 and 2020 Rich List being published.

Diamond and mining businessman, Nicholas F. Oppenheimer and family, saw their fortunes drop by £61m, while Laurence and Francois Graff, owners of Graff Diamonds, endured a £223m fall.


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