Rebecca Stewart

Business Owner at Youngs Jewellers

On returning from Europe to study law at the university, Rebecca often stopped to look in the window of her favourite store, Youngs Jewellers, which at the time was located in The Shades Arcade. Rebecca recalls their window displays as always being exceptional. 

Then one day, while gazing into their window, a lady came out of the jewellery store and said, “Would you like a job?” to which Rebecca replied “Yes!”

What started out as a part-time job working Saturday mornings, grew to full time and then ten years down the track, she became 50/50 business partners with the owner.

However, by that time Rebecca was fairly much running the show doing all the displays and the buying. 

Rebecca is a self-professed born and bred Cantabrian but the family did move to Auckland for a short period where she would commute to Christchurch once a month for a week to redo the store windows and generally check on things. It wasn’t until her son's schooling became an issue in trying to find a good school, they decided to bring the family back home for better schools and lifestyle.

The Youngs Jewellery business started way back in 1907 here in the Central City and Rebecca recalls an elderly couple coming in about 13 years ago to sell back a ring they purchased in 1921. The elderly lady was unable to wear her engagement ring any longer and had no one to pass it on to. They still had the little box it came in and the original receipt.

Rebecca said, “They were quite happy to sell it because she couldn’t wear it anymore and happy that it was coming back to its roots and to pass on their story about buying it and how special it was. I have kept the ring on display.”

“There are a lot of emotions and stories that are attached to jewellery and often people who are selling or purchasing share their stories. They can be quite personal and this is what makes this role quite special.”

Rebecca has noticed changes in buying patterns over the years with women now being the main purchasers of jewellery, where it used to be men. She believes women have become better at articulating what they want and have a greater level of disposable income than when she started 30 years ago. There has also been a considerable increase in younger people who are very aware of their carbon footprint and want to purchase second-hand and prefer to recycle and reuse items rather than buy new. Rebecca says you get high-quality workmanship for a better price when purchasing vintage or antique jewelry and generally very unique pieces.

Rebecca has built up long-term relationships with her suppliers, which are often family-owned businesses that have generations working in them she says, “They have a good eye for design and their products are not mass-produced .”

On asking Rebecca her thoughts on Christchurch we got a quick response:

“I love Christchurch, I was born and bred here.  I love that the sea is here, the mountains are so close, and I love the gardens.  You can get also around the city and out of the city really quickly to amazing places.

Do you have some favourite places?

I love walking up to the Sign of the Kiwi from the Sign of Takahe. I love walking around Hagley Park. Something I do at least two or three times a week living on the park. I also like going to the Art Centre and love the Central Art Gallery in the Art Centre. Frances Nation is my coffee spot.

Where do you go for great food?

I love Inati for special occasions, and who doesn’t like going to the places in Riverside because they are all great. I take my son to Midnight Shanghai but a place I am going to all the time at the moment is Odeon on Gloucester Street, which is the sister restaurant to Story on New Regent Street. It opened just before Christmas. It is Spanish Tapas, plus a lot of Spanish, Italian, and Greek wines. They have amazing staff, which is hard to get in hospitality; their food is incredible and it is a beautiful fit-out. My friends and I also like going to Cellar Door for wine before going to a movie at Lumiere. 

Where are some of the places you like to go shopping?

I love going to World. It is a bit different and they sell a lot of unusual things. They have perfume, homewares and even a few antiques. It is a great place to buy gifts for those that are hard to buy for and their shop is full of surprises. 

I like going shopping at The Crossing as there are a few good shops in there like Fashion Society, plus a good selection of quality brands mixed with some little boutique stores.  Something for everyone.



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From the Cathedral Square markets to the Margaret Mahy playground, these beloved central city experiences always draw us back to the CBD.