City centre jeweller Klimek has become an employee-owned trust after gemmologist owner Bettina Klimek handed over her business to her staff.  

“I want to spend more time with my children and grandchildren, and this means I can gradually hand over the business to people who are committed to its future,” said Bettina, who moved the business to Truro’s Lemon Street in 2002 with her late husband Karol.

The son of a Polish prisoner of war, Karol grew up in Kent and completed an apprenticeship with Maidstone jeweller G Cornell & Son.

It was the start of an illustrious career sourcing gemstones, working all over the world with names like Katz & Lourie and Camden Diamonds, and even selling Elton John a pink diamond stud earring.

Karol married Bettina and the couple had four children, living in places as varied as South Africa and France as Karol’s career developed, before settling in Bettina’s native Cornwall to give the family more stability.

Encouraged by Karol to study gemmology, Bettina became a Fellow of the Gemmological Association of Great Britain. When Karol passed away suddenly in 2017, she ran the business herself, but in recent years felt the need to retire and spend more time with her family, some of whom live in Italy and New Zealand.

“I felt the time was right for me to hand the business on, but I wanted to find the right way of doing this for my team and for the community of Truro,” she said.

“I had heard of an employee ownership trust, but was worried that it would mean my team having to find a large sum of money. Having attended a workshop through a local accountant, I discovered that was not the case.”

Bettina was referred to Chris Maslin of Kent firm Go EO, who guided her through the process of handing over the business to her team by selling their shares to a trust run by employees.

“Many company owners have a deep commitment to their team and to their communities, and don’t want to see their business legacy disappear or be absorbed into another company,” said Chris.

“They want to pass the baton on to those they trust. We’re so thrilled that the Truro community can benefit from this wonderful business continuing to provide local employment for the foreseeable future.”

Bettina is still involved in the business, but is preparing the team for her departure in 2025. “I didn’t quite realise how much I actually did routinely on a day-to-day basis,” she said. “I’m training my team to take over - it’s a journey, but we will get there and I can be on hand as a consultant even when I’ve finally ‘left the building’.”