The Whitaker family has been trading in the Hunter Valley for more than 100 years. John’s great-grandfather, Reginald Wilfred Whitaker, started the family business with his three sons in Muswellbrook and Maitland in 1903. They then bought a store in Hunter Street where they retailed for 40 years, before John’s father bought a store at Kotara Fair (now known as Westfield Kotara) where he traded for 42 years and quickly grew the business with new stores opening in Raymond Terrace, Mount Hutton and Belmont. John says with great pride, “Dad knew how to market jewellery and...he was the only jeweller in town, really! He really was the man.”
John Snr understood that in order to take the family business into the next generation his son and successor would need to grow his knowledge and skill base. John completed studies at the Gemological Institute of America in Santa Monica California, considered the number one diamond grading school in the world.
When John returned to Newcastle he ran the family business at all levels, becoming an account manager for all the stores. With John Snr nearing retirement, they slowly started closing down the Kotara and satellite stores. In 2006, the decision was made to become more specialised and niche, and John and Leonie moved the store to it’s current location on Darby Street.
The look of Whitaker’s Jewellers has changed throughout the years, but the commitment to consumer education is still a hallmark. The Whitakers Legacy has been passed down through the generations and the core value that underpins every Whitakers experience - meaning you don't have a transaction – you have a relationship. For John, the jewellery trade is as much about the beautiful stories people share with him as it is about the beautiful pieces he creates with them. From the genuine and warm way John speaks about his customers, it’s easy to see he feels they are as unique and special to him as every individual diamond he works with.