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Re-inventing the pawn industry

Re-think pawn shops

Did you know the world-famous Hope Diamond spent time in a pawn shop? Or that King Edward III once pawned the English Crown Jewels? Or that playwright William Shakespeare mentions pawn shops in several of his plays?

Pawnshops have been around for centuries, but they have changed with the times.

In Kelowna, Martin Strasser of Premier Jewellery and Loans is reinventing the industry. His showroom is bright, clean, and organized. His merchandise includes high-end jewellery and watches, musical instruments, upscale handbags and the store’s specialty, diamonds.

“The industry is not what it was 30 years ago,” says Strasser. “Our store is inviting and pleasant. Every item is screened by the RCMP to make sure it’s legitimate. Every employee wears a uniform and receives training in jewelry and diamonds. Frankly, we’re more of a vintage jewelry store than a traditional pawnshop.”

The store carries a selection of high-end watches like Rolex and Breitling as well as jewelry, upscale handbags like Louis Vuitton, and musical instruments. Strasser describes his store as a place clients can shop for pre-owned high-end items without the risks of buying online.

He states “Authentication is a big concern for many people. When you shop online or the classifieds you never know if that diamond is real or if the watch is counterfeit. We authenticate everything. We even test to make sure all diamonds are natural and not lab grown. Our luxury watches are serviced and checked by our watchmaker. Even our hand-bags are verified by a service to ensure they’re real.”

Premier’s six-member staff are very knowledgeable about what they sell, with certifications from organizations such as the G.I.A. (Gemological Institute of America) and Diamond Council of America. They are also members of the Canadian Jeweller’s Association and Jewelers of America.

“We are experts at what we do,” says Strasser, who opened his store in 1995. “We want our clients to get the best advice possible, whether they are selling items or buying them.”

While many things have changed over the centuries, the core business has not. Premier buys, sells and lends money for quality items. Clients can sell their gold, diamonds or luxury watches or trade up towards different pieces. They can also shop for upscale items at a fraction of new cost. Each item is carefully restored by Premier’s goldsmiths to like new appearance.

Strasser says “Perhaps the best part is we’re friendly to the wallet and the environment. We’re the ultimate up-cyclers. Our diamonds are vintage or estate so there’s no carbon footprint or ecological impact. It’s even better than lab grown or synthetic diamonds because you get natural diamonds with literally zero downside. You also get to choose from the last 100 years of jewelry style instead of being stuck with the flavour of the week this year.”

For the last six years, the store has also helped give back to the community through its annual fundraiser to help the Kelowna Women’s Shelter. Each year, the store teams up with Castanet and donates a pair of one-carat diamond stud earrings that are then raffled off with the proceeds going to the shelter. Over the last five years they’ve donated more than $30,000.

Strasser says with so many worthwhile charities looking for help these days, he wanted to assist a group that may not get as much attention as some of the larger charities in town.

“It’s really nice to be able to say we helped someone today,” he says.

With Christmas just around the corner, the perfect gift may be waiting for you at Premier Jewellery and Loans. Remember, St. Nicholas—the man Santa Claus is modeled after — is the patron saint of pawnbrokers.

So, if you are looking for that special piece of jewelry to make someone happy, or to buy and sell gold and diamonds, check out Premier Jewellery and Loans at 4-1980 Bredin Road in Kelowna.



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