Ipswich: Christopher and Angela Hardman celebrate 20 years at Berridges

Angela and Christopher Hardman are celebrating 20 years at Ipswich jewellers Berridges.

Angela and Christopher Hardman are celebrating 20 years at Ipswich jewellers Berridges. - Credit: Lucy taylor

Friendships can be easily tested, as can many marriages, so to retain a friendship and a marriage over 20 years is quite an achievement.

To add running a business into that mix is perhaps pushing it, some might say, but not so for Christopher and Angela Hardman, who are celebrating the 20th anniversary of the day they first opened their jeweller’s shop in Dial Lane, Ipswich, with their friends, David and Kirsten Berridge.

Christopher and David had been friends since they worked together at Croydon’s, the well known jeweller’s where Christopher had worked since leaving school, aged 16.

When Croydon’s closed, in 1994, “we decided to open our own business round the corner,” he said.

“Hardman’s doesn’t sound quite right for a jeweller’s so we went with Berridges – it sounded a little more Downton Abbey.”

Christopher’s wife, Angela, also joined the business while David’s wife, Kirsten, ran the much loved tea room upstairs.

“We didn’t want people to feel daunted coming in,” said Angela. “So our customers can go upstairs to have tea and then browse as they wish on their way up or down.”

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They specialised in pearl jewellery and fine quality diamonds in particular.

“We had to plough our own furrow,” Christopher said.

The Berridges have been retired since 2003 but their friendship remains strong.

“David still comes in every Wednesday for a coffee,” Christopher says. “We have always had a very close relationship.

“David was always very artistic, adventurous and forward thinking, while I was more the business side.”

Christopher and Angela have two sons, Alex, 21, and Josh, 18.

How have they managed to remains so close, despite working side by side every day? “We have to be careful not to talk about work all the time,” Angela said.

“But it’s a lovely thing to do, working with people at some of the best times of their lives.”

While Christopher says their secret is that they both have their own role, he said: “She makes everything look lovely, while I make sure it’s the right price,” before adding with a grin, “really, I just say ‘yes’ to my wife. It’s the best way.”