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Rochford Square - “R.J.Yeo”
Jewellers & Watchmakers
Kenneth J Massow FIRV FGA DGA
R J Yeo
24 West Street, ROCHFORD, SS4 1AJ
Tel: 01702 544712

ken-john.massow@virgin.net
Part 1: Introduction to Yeo’s

Rochford Life: Ken, what is the official name of the business.
Ken:  The official name is R.J.Yeo and it is to do with Reg Yeo who was the original owner of the business which was started in the middle fifties. He was a local councillor and quite involved in the community, but the shop was originally started in North Street and we moved into the Square about thirty years ago and have been here ever since.    

RL: You must be one of the most long-standing shops in the Square then?
Ken: Yes, we would now be the oldest business actually in the Square. The oldest businesses around would be Mr. Haynes, Peter in the carpet shop and John Lewendon down back lane is Austria Travel Direct which isn’t such an old business but he’s been an accountant in the town for a very long time, although not a retail outlet. I’ve been here since I was twenty four and I’m now sixty five, so I’ve been here for many years. I’ve earned my living out of Rochford and traded in Rochford all those years.

RL: Your business is purely in Rochford?
Ken:  We do trade outside Rochford as well. In our time we’ve been suppliers to Fortnum and Mason, Harrods and Aspreys and Aspreys in Fifth Avenue, New York. We used to manufacture high quality silverware which was sold in every major capital in the world and also to very high end retailers. We were featured in Fortnum and Mason’s 1994 Christmas Catalogue as a preferred supplier.

RL: So what sort of things do you do today?
Ken:  We manufacture on the premises nowadays, mainly high quality diamond jewellery, or we’ll make a silver St. Christopher if somebody wants something different.  It doesn’t have to be expensive; we’ll manufacture right across the range. We still repair clocks and watches and we still do silver repairs.
We are also Registered Valuers and what that actually means is that I personally have passed a number of examinations set by our Trade Association to prove fitness. I’m also a Fellow of the Institute of Registered Valuers (http://www.jewelleryvaluers.org/ ) which, at the moment, in the Fellow grade there are about thirty-five or forty members within the entire country.
I’m also a gemmologist; I hold a qualification called an FGA which is a Fellow of the Gemmological Association. I’m the only one in this part of Essex. You have to go to London, or possibly Chelmsford or Colchester.
I also hold a diamond grading certificate which is an approved top of the line diamond grading qualification. We do court work. I have worked with and lectured to the local Trading Standards Office in Chelmsford and we get sent clients from the Trading Standards Office and provide a lot of professional services, negotiations with Insurance companies and that sort of thing, apart from selling very inexpensive jewellery, and very inexpensive watches as well as nice quality diamonds and nice quality watches.                    

RL: From what you have been saying you obviously have a very wide range of products, from the cheap end to the quality end.
Ken:  Yes we do and a lot of the better end of the market is handmade because when one is dealing in better quality goods, it’s far cheaper for us to buy in the raw materials and manufacture it ourselves on site than it is to pay someone else to manufacture or make it

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Talking with Ken Massow of Yeo’s the Jewellers  (11th December 2010)

What follows is an extensive interview with Ken during which he not only spoke about the business but gave us an insight into the world of gold, diamonds and gemstones. We have therefore divided up with interview and you will see each of those given separate pages that can be accessed from Yeo’s Contents Page. We hope you will find all of this as enlightening as we did and we wish to convey our warmest thanks to Ken for giving us these ‘lessons’!