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Meet the Owners at Millenium Jewellers

Get to know the people behind your favourite places & spaces in downtown Burlington! We’ll be introducing you to new owners & businesses throughout the year!

This week, meet Rafael Hernandez & Alba Castro, Owners, Millenium Jewellers

1. Why did you start your business?

When I was a child in Colombia, my sister picked me up every day after school and took me to a jewellery shop that was owned by a family friend, while we waited for my parents to finish work. I spent my formative years watching the jeweller work— watching him manipulate the gold; his fingers quickly working with great agility and speed while he set the smallest gemstones. My favourite part was the torch. As I grew older I learned from him, both by watching and doing, and my interest in watches specifically began to form at that time. By the time I arrived to Canada as a young man, I knew I had to get to work doing the only thing I knew how to do well: making and repairing jewellery.

2. Tell us a little bit about yourself and your business.

My most unique offering, I think, is experience. I’ve been a jeweller for a long time and it’s been ages since I’ve been presented with a repair (or a new build) that I couldn’t conquer successfully. When it comes to a piece of jewellery that you cherish— whether it’s a gem you want to build a pendant around, or you have an heirloom ring you need repaired— you want to make sure the jeweller handling it has experience. In terms of myself personally: when I’m not at the shop (which is rare) you could probably find me cycling.

3. What made you choose Downtown Burlington to open your business?

I actually got my very first job as a jeweller here in Burlington— since then, I have been all over North America as a travelling jeweller, worked in jewellery shops (for myself, and for other people) in Toronto, Hamilton, etc. I wanted to put down roots somewhere that felt like home, where I knew the people and knew what they liked. It feels like I’ve come full circle, being back in Burlington again.

4. What other downtown businesses do you frequent and do business with?

I genuinely don’t have much time for leisure right now because I’m working so much and by the time we close up the store, I’m ready to go home. But when we do, we frequently go to eat at The Works Gourmet Burger Bistro, The Pump on Brant, Benedict Eatery, Corned Beef Hut and Pepperwood Bistro, and we cannot miss a delicious dessert from Kelly’s Bake.

5. Tell us about Coco.

Coco is our big chocolate lab, he has been part of our lives since 7 years ago, and he also is member of our store. He LOVES to look after the customers. He’s super friendly and loves to be showered in pets and affection. He’s a gentleman, however— he won’t ever run up to you or crowd you as you try to come in. He’ll wait to be invited to come near. If you read our Google reviews, you’ll notice that people come for the jewellery but stay because Coco is just too charming.

6. What top three things do you want people to know about your services?

  • Usually I can get a repair done while you wait, or at least that same day. (More complicated repairs that require replacement stones could take a bit longer if I have to source them!)
  • We sell everything; newly-made pieces, custom-made pieces, vintage & antique jewellery, and we specialize in rare and unique timepieces and wrist watches.
  • I’m more interested in service over selling— I would rather make sure you had a good experience working with me than try to be a pushy salesperson. If you have an enjoyable and relaxing time at the shop, it’s more likely you’ll come back— that’s my top priority.

7. What is your business success?

My wife Alba is a huge part of my success. You’ll be warmly greeted by her when you visit the shop. She keeps me organized and focused. She also handles all the bookkeeping which suits me just fine. But I think in the end, my success is a reflection of the service I provide. If you do good work and focus on relationship-building (instead of chasing sales), you’ll find that it’s easy to have longevity in what you do.