Christopher Stoner has launched a "posh pawnbroking" service, offering short-term cash loans to owners of fine diamond jewellery and luxury watches.
The Harrogate jeweller launched its Asset Finance service after being approached by business owners seeking quick cash for investment or to pay bills. The business is charging between 5% and 8% a month for loans up to £5,000.
Christopher Stoner managing director, Chris Stoner, told local paper the Yorkshire Post that the type of customer using the service are those "who look like they have everything you could imagine" but are in need of cash at a time when banks are tight on lending.
The pawnbroking service was launched some months ago and is being privately funded by Stoner, who now wishes to raise its profile.
Stoner is a qualified gemmologist and diamond grader and says these skills give customers confidence when coming to him for loans. To date Rolex watches, some worth up to £20,000, have been popular items of collateral, as well as fine diamond jewellery.
Stoner said the company loaned £20,000 last month to an individual against the security of a ladies diamond-set Rolex Pearlmaster.
“That particular lady’s husband does run his own business and has hit slightly tricky times and has a tax bill that needs paying,” said Stoner.
He added that his other shop, in Shipley, recently loaned £15,000 against a gents’ 18 carat gold Rolex Day Date.
Stoner said his experience and understanding of jewellery and watches should give confidence to customers.
He commented: “Having years of experience in the fine jewellery and watch industry allows my team and I to be in a better position to understand the true value of prestige watches such as Rolex and Patek Philippe and fine diamond jewellery that clients bring in to us, which ultimately allows us to lend more,” he added.
If borrowers cannot repay their loans Christopher Stone has the right to sell the assets to recover their costs, plus interest.
According to recent data from the National Pawnbroking Association, pawnbroking is growing at a rate of 15% year-on-year in an industry valued at £850 million in 2012.His biggest loan to date has been £25,000.