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Article: The McKinney Family History

Kenneth McKinney. John McKinney (Junior) and staff 1952. John McKinney (Junior).

The McKinney Family History

McKinney’s Jewellers is a beacon of tradition combined with a fresh, modern approach. This fifth-generation business, started by John McKinney in Toowoomba in 1884 has been a stalwart and indeed a major success in the Queensland and East Coast retail scene for 138 years.


Original McKinney’s store on Ruthven Street, Toowoomba c1900

Top Image from Left: 
Kenneth McKinney. John McKinney (Junior) and staff 1952. John McKinney (Junior). 
Above Image: Original McKinney’s store on Ruthven Street, Toowoomba c1900.


A long and rich history

Each generation has brought their own particular talent and creativity to the business. Our adventurous founder, John McKinney travelled all the way to Queensland from Northern Ireland in 1884 and after little success finding his fortune at the gold fields successfully established McKinney’s in Toowoomba.


John McKinney 1930. McKinney’s 70th anniversary advertorial featuring an image of John McKinney (Senior), Kenneth McKinney and John McKinney (Junior).

Left: John McKinney 1930.
Right: McKinney’s 70th anniversary advertorial featuring an image of John McKinney (Senior), Kenneth McKinney and John McKinney (Junior).


 The very dapper second generation, Kenneth McKinney travelled the globe to source the finest merchandise, including pearls from Japan, to grow the business into a thriving Darling Downs department store where everyone shopped.


McKinney’s store on Ruthven Street, Toowoomba

McKinney’s store on Ruthven Street, Toowoomba


Kenneth McKinney was innovative and entrepreneurial and continued to successfully grow the business adding departments that piqued his interest such as furniture, boats, sporting and electrical goods. 
John McKinney also acquired Australia’s oldest jewellery business, Hardy Brothers in 1988 and it was a privilege for the family to be custodians of this national business until its sale to another Queensland family.


Display at The Green Door, Fortitude Valley. Margot McKinney 2022

 Left: Display at The Green Door, Fortitude Valley. Right: Margot McKinney 2022


Margot McKinney
A Fourth Generation Jeweller

Margot McKinney’s jewellery is inspired by the vibrant, exotic textures and colours that are so abundant in the natural world. Coral reefs teaming with life, rich dappled rainforests, the red dusty outback, and deepest azure oceans are all reflected in the organic forms of Margot’s exquisite creations.

For Margot, the creative process often begins with a unique gem, sourced with a keen and discerning vision from the most important mines in the world. Respecting the stone’s intrinsic qualities, she fashions the ideal setting for the gem to shine at its most brilliant, draped gracefully around a neck, or sparkling from an ear or wrist.


Andrew McKinney Welch and Margot McKinney.

Above: Andrew McKinney Welch and Margot McKinney. Photo: Michael Carrello.


Andrew McKinney Welch, son of Margot’s sister, Jane and her husband, Peter Welch is the fifth generation McKinney to join the company and is one of the few GIA Gemologists in Australia. Andrew is an integral member of the business and we look forward to forging new frontiers as we have for over 138 years. 

We hope you enjoy the jewellery we delight in presenting. 

As our wise father said, if you don’t know your jewellery 
then know your jeweller.




John McKinney arrives in Queensland aged 19 and takes part in the Palmer River goldrush in Cooktown.  

John McKinney Pty Ltd (barber and tobacconist) is founded in Toowoomba.

Architectural drawing of McKinney House, 1955

The wholesale department is sold to S. Hoffnung and Co.

Margot McKinney is born. 

McKinney’s employs 70 people.

The furniture department expands from Ruthven Street through to Duggan Street, in Australia Arcade, Toowoomba.

Toowoomba Discount City Furniture and Electrical opens, 1972–1978

McKinney’s opens Indooroopilly Shoppingtown, Brisbane (including Furniture and Electrical). By 1980 this store will be entirely jewellery, china and gifts, and by 1987 it would be jewellery only.

Margot McKinney goes to to California, USA, to attend university. She is 17.

The furniture and electrical business in Toowoomba is sold to Norman Ross, their first store in Queensland. The jewellery and china business moves to McKinney’s, Indooroopilly.

McKinney’s celebrates 100 years. Margot McKinney manages the Indooroopilly store, while McKinney’s Toowoomba is recognised by Wedgewood and Royal Doulton as their major customer in Australia.

A profile of Margot McKinney is published in the Courier Mail: Suzanne Pekol, ‘Young Female and at the top’.

McKinney’s acquires Hardy Brothers from Christopher Skase.

In May Hardy Brothers’ neighbour, the fabric store Gardams catches fire. Due to fire damage, Hardy Brothers is closed for a week and completely refurbished. That same month, a new sales system is installed in all stores.

Seventy year progress of ‘The House of Quality’, 493 Ruthven Street Toowoomba, is published.

Margot marries and moves to Malaysia.

Hardy Brothers is sold.

John McKinney closes McKinney’s Toowoomba.

Margot McKinney marries Peter Kedwell.

McKinney’s opens at Emporium, now known as 1000 Ann Street, Fortitude Valley.

Begins designing jewellery and launches Margot McKinney.

Neiman Marcus begins stocking Margot McKinney.

Margot McKinney visits Ellies Pearls in Arnhem Land and buys the entire baroque harvest of pearls.

Margot McKinney sponsors G’day LA/USA.

Margot McKinney named The Legend of Brisbane.

Mattel releases their Julie Bishop Barbie doll, immortalising the outfit of the former Foreign Minister on the day she left politics, including her Margot McKinney jewels.

Andrew McKinney becomes a GIA Graduate Gemologist in California, USA.

Margot named OAM in the 2022 Australia Day Honours List.

World of Wonder: Margot McKinney at Museum of Brisbane
(18 June to 6 November).

Margot McKinney becomes an associate sponsor
at the Prince’s Trust Global Gala.

McKinney’s Jewellers renovation completed at 1000 Ann Street, Fortitude Valley. 



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