Diamonds are a girl’s best friend for Swansea duo headed for the Big Apple

Two happy staff members at a Swansea jewellery store will soon be jetting off on an all-expenses paid trip to New York as a reward for their sparkling sales records.

The glittering itinerary will see Julie Richards and Diane Harris, who work at Ernest Jones in the city’s busy Quadrant Shopping Centre, given an exclusive behind the scenes tour at the US headquarters of world famous jewellery house, Le Vian.

The prestigious brand is globally known for its exquisite chocolate diamonds worn by a dazzling array of red carpet stars including Oprah Winfrey, Demi Moore and Jennifer Lopez.

It’s a once in a lifetime opportunity for the Swansea duo who will see how the coveted items of jewellery are designed and created, and learn firsthand about the unique history of family brand Le Vian.

Assistant manager Julie and sales assistant Diane won the trip after achieving the highest sales in their branch of Le Vian chocolate diamonds and they just can’t wait.

Diane, a diamond and watch specialist, said: “It’s sure to be amazing and as a result of our trip we will become official Le Vian Ambassadors for our store.”

The full itinerary has yet to be confirmed but the duo are already bursting with excitement at the prospect of seeing the incredible sights of the Big Apple. Neither of them have been to New York before.

“I’m really hoping we’ll get to go on an evening cruise of the famous harbour, see the Statue of Liberty and I’d like to pay my respects at Ground Zero,“ said Diane, 67, who has been with the company for 38 years.

“I started out with our sister group, H Samuel,” she said. “I was there for 19 years before moving over to Ernest Jones here in the Quadrant centre. This year will be my 19th here.

“I only do three days a week nowadays, but I’ve no plans to retire. I love this business and the company I work for.

“It’s the most fantastic job in all the world, seeing people so happy as they pick out engagement and wedding rings, eternity rings or just special gifts for one another.”

She is eager to discover more about the chocolate diamonds which can only be sourced from mines in Australia: “They’re truly exquisite, very special,” she said.

The New York visit is not her first reward for sterling efforts in the jewellery business. Three years ago she was nominated by colleagues for a lifetime achievement honour and presented with a trophy at a company ceremony in Birmingham.

Diane lives in Sketty with her husband of 45 years, Peter, a retired BT engineer. Their son, Darren, 42, is an occupational therapist and lives with his girlfriend in Llanelli.

“In their leisure time Diane and Peter just love to travel about in their classic Morris Minor car: “It’s great with the top down. We’re hoping for another good summer so we can get out again this year. We like staying over at country cottages.

“We’ve travelled abroad quite a bit in the past, including to the West coast of America, but never New York so I’m really excited to have won this trip.”

Diane and Julie have worked together for more than three years.

“We get along great,” said Julie, of North Gower, who is also over the moon about their win. It has come at exactly the right time for her, as she celebrates her 40th birthday in 2014.

“What a fantastic present!” she said. “I am so looking forward to it. Originally I’m from Canada, but even when I lived on that side of the Atlantic, I never visited New York, though I always wanted to go. I’m so excited.”

Julie came over from Ontario 16 years ago after marrying her husband, Grayson, who is from Wales but was visiting Canada when they met. The couple have two daughters, Raia, 8, and Erin, 7.

Like Diane, Julie also worked at H Samuel first before moving to the Quadrant centre’s branch of Ernest Jones.

She said: “It’s a great place to work. We have some wonderful staff and lovely loyal customers who we get to know so well, especially when they call in for some of the special events we hold now and again.”

Ian Kirkpatrick, Manager of the Quadrant Shopping Centre, said: “We’re delighted that Julie and Diane have won this fantastic prize.

“Ernest Jones in the Quadrant is such a popular store and the staff all seem to enjoy working there because many of them have been at the Quadrant for a long time.”

One such event, coming up on May 7, centres on the Le Vian chocolate diamonds which Julie and Diane will be learning more about in New York.

A representative from the American headquarters will be in the store answering questions and showing off the latest in Le Vian’s jewellery collection.

The store will stay open from 9am-8pm that day, and customers will be offered a glass of champagne.

All are welcome to attend, but as the event is expected to be extremely popular people are asked to make an appointment in advance, by popping in or calling the store on 01792 460583 and letting staff know what time of day they’d like to attend.

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