Jewelry Industry News Trends Analysis | Jewelry Show and Exhibition Thu, 02 Oct 2014 00:12:21 +0000 Joomla! - Open Source Content Management en-gb How Smart Is Your Jewelry?

Though it had a flashy media reception three weeks ago, the jury is still out on whether the highly anticipated new Apple Watch will be a game changing invention the way some of the brand’s preceding products have been. And the powers that be in Cupertino must hope it sparks a frenzy that gets early adopters camping overnight on sidewalks worldwide.

As Apple acolyte myself (in my apartment there’s a growing mountain of i-devices in varying stages of obsolescence) I’m curious about whether I should make room on my wrist for a gizmo that combines functions like walkie talkie communications and fitness monitoring, neither of which hold my interest at the moment.

The Apple watch is only the most high profile example of a wave of jewelry with a technical function, aka “smart” jewelry. New brand Ringly creates rings that connect to smartphones and vibrate to inform the wearer of incoming calls or calendar notifications. A big part of its mission is obviously to eliminate cell phone-on-the-dinner-table syndrome. And hipster fashion emporium Opening Ceremony has joined forces with Intel to create the MICA (My Intelligent Communication Accessory), a jeweled snakeskin bracelet that has a wireless radio and sapphire screen.

Each of the newest entries to the category is a distinct aesthetic improvement on the bulky first wave of wearable technology, and a definite move to get women interested in the category. Since most of us are inseparable from our cell phones, maybe it’s a good idea to integrate them into our wardrobes in the most attractive way possible. But my inner Luddite screams that the more ways we have to dress up our devices the less likely we’ll ever unplug.

Are your customers excited about the idea of smart jewelry and wearable tech?

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]]> (Tanya Dukes) Designers/Jewelry Wed, 01 Oct 2014 00:00:00 +0000
How Borsheims Meets the Needs of a New Group of Customers With a Second Store

When Borsheims of Omaha, NE, opened a second location called Borsheims Boutique on Nov. 15, 2013 — in an upscale, revamped outlet mall named Nebraska Crossings — more than 100,000 customers visited the mall the first three days it was open.

In preparation for the opening, Borsheims did a great deal of broad, mass-media advertising. They also offered a discount in a coupon book that was sent to 20,000 households in the zip codes surrounding the new store. And they had a soft opening for 300 people the night before the store opened to the public.

They advertised the giveaway of a $1,600 black and white diamond pendant, which drew people in to register to win.

Adrienne Fay, director of marketing for Borsheims, says the company has always strived to provide luxury at a value, offering every-day discount prices at its flagship store, and showing both the MSRP and the discounted price on its tags. So an outlet mall with other luxury tenants seemed like a perfect fit.

“We thought it was a great idea to introduce Borsheims to new customers,” Fay says. “Borsheims has been known for its value proposition. We’ve had experience for over 100 years in that luxury value space. It’s in our wheelhouse.”

Once they signed on, they had about two months to pull together the 5,500-square-foot space. “The timeline by far was the biggest challenge that we had to overcome in getting the store open,” says Fay.

Simplifying the project somewhat, the store has the same look and feel as the flagship – the tile, carpeting, paint color, cases and etched glass are copies of the original, and are intended to re-create the Borsheims experience.

The key to the Boutique’s success, they say, has been keeping branding, customer service and quality consistent.

Merchandise is specially sourced through Borsheims’ vendors and manufacturers, who have been able to create a suite of pieces at an even bigger discount than the flagship store provides.

Borsheims has paid close attention to what’s been selling the first year at the Boutique and has responded by tailoring events and merchandise to meet consumer demand.

The bridal segment has proven to be strong, and so, as Borsheims prepares for the Boutique’s second holiday season, they’ve maintained excitement and momentum by hosting a semi-annual bridal event. Held in March and in October, the Say Yes! event features an expanded collection of engagement rings as well as wedding and anniversary bands.

The Boutique will also participate in Borsheims’ local philantrophy event, the Weekend of Giving, held the first weekend in December. This event focuses on giving back to a local child-based charity and this year’s recipient is Girls, Inc. Customers may purchase a box off the Giving Tree for $10, of which all proceeds are donated to Girls, Inc. Each box has a special prize, ranging from jewelry to gift cards. There will also be a sterling silver “Inspire” pendant available for $25, of which $5 of each sale goes to Girls, Inc.

Another trend emerging in the first year of business is the popularity of personalized jewelry. Charms and initial pendants are steady sellers. Borsheims Boutique debuted the exclusive collection of FourKeeps in the region, a line of large lockets with various charms in colored topaz. Due to customers' requests, the Boutique will launch Endless this fall, which is a collection of leather bracelets with charms.

Borsheims Boutique will be featured in the November issue INSTORE.

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]]> (Eileen McClelland) Best Practices Tue, 30 Sep 2014 00:00:00 +0000
Spectacular Service Makes or Breaks You

One restaurant server recently made the difference between a good evening and a memorable one for me and my wife. The difference may seem slight, but that’s the kind of service that can make a business owner rich.

Last week, my wife and I joined another couple in driving about 45 minutes away to see one of our favorite 80s cover bands. The restaurant/bar sits atop a cliff overlooking a lake, which is nice, and the food is medium, which is probably to be expected. But when the young server arrived, she immediately made us feel that we were the only people in the place that mattered – even though she was waiting on several other tables. She got to know who we are and where we are from. She shared her own history and aspirations. She helped us to find the best deals on the menu. She took our photo with the sunset in the background. But what really put her over the top was when she pulled my wife and her friend from their seats to go dance. I was amazed that she was empowered by her manager to have that kind of personal interaction with customers – and she was obviously a great hire. She also found my friend and I when we moved to the other side of the crowded bar for a while. And, when busboys cleared our table prematurely, she brought free replacement drinks. By the time we left, we felt we had made a friend.

Not only will service like that earn a fantastic tip (or, for a jewelry salesperson, larger and more frequent commissions), but it makes it a lot more likely that the customer will return. For that kind of service, a 45-minute drive doesn’t seem that far after all.

On the other hand, bad service can kill you no matter how beautiful your store or where you’re located. Bob Phibbs, “The Retail Doctor,” shared this story in his newsletter yesterday (you can subscribe at

“There’s a new restaurant across the river from me called Fish and Game. A buddy of mine ordered a Tequila shot the other night at the bar.  The bartender rattled off about a dozen types of Tequila, smokey, fruity, etc. “That’s too many choices,” he said to her. ‘How about a mezcal?’

The bartender abruptly challenged, ‘Mezcal is not tequila, I wouldn’t have named all of those tequilas if you wanted mezcal.’

My buddy felt stupid and shamed but continued in a good-natured way. ‘OK, well how about the mezcal with the worm?’

‘They haven’t done that for years!’ she chided.

Have you ever run into an employee who made you feel stupid or small? Whose way to feel good about themselves was by correcting you, the customer? 

If enough customers endure those types of encounters, you’re sunk.”

Bob had a great point, and it’s what reminded me of our polar opposite experience with the extraordinary server at the lakeside restaurant.

Bob’s story was part of a larger blog post on “10 Common Mistakes That Can Doom Your Business.” To read the rest of it, visit

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]]> (Trace Shelton) Customer Service Mon, 29 Sep 2014 00:00:00 +0000
Seventies Hoops Next, But Big Studs Now

Despite Milan’s obsession with Seventies style during its Spring 2015 Fashion Week—and, yes, that means super-huge hoops likely on their way in—I want to emphasize the continuing importance of big studs. Even if we see hoop earrings the size worn by Cher during that decade, large studs will co-exist. And quite comfortably, may I add. (FYI, for anyone unfamiliar with those Cher ϋber-hoops, take a look at the photo here. How cool was (is) she, right?)

Anyway, back to the present and those stud earrings. They started to gain fashion momentum early last year. And, although many red carpet watchers have been reporting that statement earrings are in, I’ve disagreed. Yes, Sofia Vergara usually wears some enormous pair of Lorraine Schwartz earrings to the Emmys or Golden Globes. But it’s fairly predictable that she’ll do that, whatever decade we happen to be in. Instead, we should be noting the jewelry worn by style-setters like Lupita Nyong’o, Kate Mara, or Elle Fanning . . . what they often choose to complement what they wear, whether they’re walking out of Starbucks or onto Oscars' carpet. And for awhile now, more often than not, that’s been the large stud earring.

One last word on the topic (only because I can): Back in April, I read a staff report on style dot com, where the site’s editors noted, “The delicate stud earring is back!” Honestly, I remember chuckling and thinking: Oh, did it leave?

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]]> (Lorraine DePasque) Designers/Jewelry Fri, 26 Sep 2014 00:00:00 +0000
Why Diamonds Are a Jeweler’s Best Friend

August results from across our data pool have shown the strong upward trend we have seen in the last few months continuing, with more growth in average rolling 12-month sales. As the sales data in our chart shows, the average increase in same-store sales across measured stores was 9 percent for August 2014 compared to the equivalent month last year.

The month also saw a nice improvement in the number of items being sold, with an increase from 302 to 376, a rise of 24 percent. The average sale dropped from $292 to $246, a decrease in the average retail value of items sold of 18 percent. Unfortunately margin for this period was well down with a drop from 49 percent to 46 percent, which had a significant impact on profitability. The reasons for this are not obvious (pre-holiday season sales anyone?) but affected the bottom line with gross profit increasing by only 2 percent from $45,458 to $46,404. Given the extra staffing that may have been required to achieve these extra sales units, some stores may have effectively been down in overall profitability.

Although this month goes a little against the trend of increasing big ticket sales we are highlighting the sales of diamond rings again but this time focusing on number of units sold.

We now have some fairly good data collected over a period of time in this area and as the graph clearly shows, diamond units have been on the increase since the start of 2013 when sales were sitting around the 300 units per year level. Figures improved significantly during the first half of 2013 and have continued to grow at a fairly steady pace since with an occasional drop followed by an immediate increase.

The wonderful thing about diamonds is that the selling cost is often no more than for an item that’s priced at less than $100. In fact, many businesses with a high average retail sale are running with much lower staffing levels than businesses that rely on volume. For the typical jewelry store, diamonds can represent as little as 2 percent of the sales volume but contribute as much as 50 percent of total sales. A recipe like that deserves to be baked more often!

So how do your diamond sales compare? If you’re not achieving the sales level in diamonds you should be, then you need to look at why. The average U.S. store is achieving over 45 percent of its sales from diamonds. If you’re doing less than 40 percent, you need to look at how this opportunity can be improved.

Check out your competition — What are they doing right? What can you do better? It surprises me how many jewelry-store owners have never checked themselves against their competition. The only feedback they receive is from comments, good or bad, from their customers. That can be useful but it’s not an entirely reliable source of information, because customers aren’t looking at your competitors the way you should be.

Check out your inventory — Does your store say diamonds? Many jewelers are reluctant to commit fully to the diamond business. That doesn’t just mean your holding of inventory but the time and effort you put into managing that product. Do you review product regularly? Do you look to re-price items that are slow moving, or re-price up those that are fast? Do you move your displays regularly or have your diamonds always sitting in the same cabinet? Does the product look tired?

Check out your staff — When was the last time you had them mystery shopped? Do they know how to effectively close a diamond sale? They may be repeatedly making the same mistake that could be costing you sales and you may not even know about it. Do you meet with them regularly to discuss diamonds? Do you pull out diamond items to talk to about them at these meetings? This is the perfect opportunity to take action on old diamonds that haven’t moved or to show them proven sellers and new items they need to be aware of. The old management saying “you can only manage what you measure” is true. Your diamonds are looking for an excuse to hide away and slip under the radar (and are soon forgotten about by staff if they don’t sell). Pull these old pieces out, incentivize them and get them moving again.

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]]> (David Brown) Money Matters Thu, 25 Sep 2014 00:00:00 +0000
Drop Everything, Pick-Up A Client

When a friend visiting from London and I wandered into the Soho Melissa Joy Manning boutique last weekend, we happened upon the sales associate picking up the pieces of a smashed display case. Just before our arrival, a visitor’s ill-placed elbow had shattered a pane of glass, leaving an assortment of bangles and necklaces languishing under pointy shards.

While we were ready to turn to leave him to what was destined to be a time consuming cleanup, he dismissed our worries, and retrieved the necklaces the necklaces my friend had been admiring during another visit earlier in the day.

What was intended to be a quick detour became a leisurely spree trying on half of the store’s merchandise. The salesperson showed off a new agate and hematite necklace that required the work of an expert stonecutter, explained to my friend the rarity of the sleeping beauty turquoise in beaded necklace, and raved over the technique of a designer who sets diamonds in the formation of constellations.

As our visit drew to a close—sadly without making a purchase—our helpful guide Michael thanked us for the chance to play with the jewelry together. And with that farewell he hit upon so much that’s important to creating a great experience for customers.

Even though we pulled him away from an obviously important chore, our experience became the only thing on the agenda the moment we walked into the store. Better yet, there wasn’t the faintest whiff of disappointment when we didn’t buy that day. And, the whole experience was a reminder that customers love it when a sales associate takes genuine pleasure in helping them find the perfect piece—or just discover a great new designer—no matter how time consuming the process.

Even if Michael didn’t make a sale that day, he has a new fan that will return to buy later, and spread the store’s gospel across the pond, too.

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]]> (Tanya Dukes) Designers/Jewelry Wed, 24 Sep 2014 00:00:00 +0000
The Jeweler: Loupes

Catch "The Jeweler" every other Wednesday on INSTOREMAG.COM. For more cartoons from Tim Searfoss, go here.

Catch "The Jeweler" every other Wednesday on INSTOREMAG.COM. For more cartoons from Tim Searfoss, go here.

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]]> (Tim Searfoss) Guest Blogs Wed, 24 Sep 2014 00:00:00 +0000
News From the Underground: A Facebook Exile, Week 1

I pulled the plug on my personal Facebook doings a little over a week ago. So far so good. My water supply is holding out. Food is plentiful. Beer and wine preferences remain unchanged.

Thus far it’s not been tough at all. No withdrawal issues...which makes this a whole lot easier. I don’t feel like I’m missing out on anything, nor do I believe the people in my circle are missing out on anything I’m doing. So...I’m happy to report that thus far, this is easy.

I have been typing very short notes into a long lost app called Evernote that I rediscovered on my phone. (For the’s pretty dang cool. I probably would have shared that information on Facebook not that long ago...but clearly I can’t. Crap, now I have guilt.) I spend from 5 or 10 minutes on Evernote, which is nothing compared to the absent-minded Facebook marathon’s I used to take part in. I guess that’s the first observation among the many I hope to share:

  • I have created more space in my days. I still think a ton...but the subject matter is more my invention than what lands on my timeline. As of this writing I’m not sure if that’s good or bad. It’s probably neither...but I have to’s kind of interesting having to think for yourself again.
  • Waiting for your food in the drive through line takes eons longer when you can’t jump on a smartphone and look at others people’s lives while you’re waiting. (Didja’ ever notice how quickly the line moves when you try to follow an interesting link while you’re waiting for that double burger? Clearly Facebook helps wait lines move ahead quicker.)
  • A guy can get a bit of superiority complex going when he see’s nearly everyone habitually checking to see what’s happening on the ol’ Facebook feed. He shakes his head and laughs because, “I used to be just like that.”
  • Twitter is a lot more interesting than I thought! Yes...I know I’ve simply replaced one social media pacifier with another...but Twitter isn’t nearly the time suck Facebook is. (At least for me.) It’s probably because I don’t actually know most of the people that are posting I’m not as interested...which means I don’t read much of it. Still...I’m starting to understand how it could be useful for a small business. (As long as you have the time. I suppose I’ll have it if I don’t run back to Facebook...but of course I’ll need to curtail my Twitter time as well. That is one, sweet, Catch-22.)
  • I check my email like a mad man. maybe I do miss cyber-contact with the outside world, because I check my email on my phone the way I used to check Facebook. (Several, several times an hour.) It’s really not as cool as Facebook, but I find it to be far more effective from a business standpoint...and it’s nice and private. Score one for “old-school” on that front.

And so it goes. One week down...3 to go, and I don’t feel like it’s going to be a problem. Maybe I’ll invent something cool or stumble upon a book I’ve been meaning to read. One never knows. The fact that this is reaching the outside world via Social Media is ironic as hell...and it cracks me up. Brave me...taking a sabbatical...and sharing the experience. Ha! Yeah. I’m a rebel alright…



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]]> (Andy Koehn) Guest Blogs Tue, 23 Sep 2014 00:00:00 +0000
With Cigars and Scotch, Men May Shop Till They Drop

Are you considering a men’s night this year? In gathering tidbits for a November article on last-minute holiday preparations, I learned that Judith Ripka’s East Hills, Long Island, NY, store has hosted a Men’s Cigars and Scotch Shopping Night in the past, which was a big hit with the guys and an unqualified success for the business.

The secret to its success? Alice Aquilino, VP of advertising and public relations for Judith Ripka, attributes much of it to keeping updated records throughout the year — the client's Wish List, her husband’s contact info, and important occasion dates. Sales associates can study their invitation lists and be prepared on the night of the event, knowing exactly what object of desire to present to each guy who comes in.

What about the details? Since cigars and Scotch are the focus, food can be simple – bite-sized, room temperature and “nothing drippy.” Aside from refreshments, organizers suggest you might need a coat check, a server, a cleaning person, additional glassware and valet parking.

Men tend to shop later for all holidays, so shoot for the second week of December. If weather might become a factor, leave enough time to reschedule.

Not only was this a successful event for Judith Ripka, but it was also a great way to encourage future sales. Once the husband is initiated into how well the Wish List works, why would he shop anywhere else in the future? Once you’ve met the husband, you will feel more comfortable calling him for the next special occasion, and he will feel more comfortable coming in to the store.

It also helps to find a brand ambassador. Check your invitation list for a spouse you know well. Encourage him to bring friends, colleagues and family members, or offer him an incentive, such as a gift card, for doing so.

More tips:

  • Send personalized email invitations with a photo of exactly what the client has already selected. It could be an added enticement to show the husband how easy the process will be.
  • Offer special gift wrapping for the evening with a designated wrapper to keep the check-out process moving smoothly.
  • Employ models who will wear major pieces or try on the husband’s selection.
  • Consult the local community calendar for conflicting events that could impact attendance.
  • Choose a local liquor store and use them for all of your events and gift-giving throughout the year. Then find out if they will accept returns on any unopened bottles from your event. And, of course, check to see if there are any restrictions against serving alcohol in your store.

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]]> (Eileen McClelland) Best Practices Tue, 23 Sep 2014 00:00:00 +0000
Designer Jacquie Aiche Nails Marketing Campaign

Last week, I wrote about how canned marketing and PR is just a big fat waste of money, so this week, I thought I’d write about a designer who’s used her marketing opportunities to the fullest: Jacquie Aiche. Despite running no traditional national advertising campaign in the usual print vehicles, Aiche’s jewelry is a staple among editorial picks, appearing in six magazines in September alone (check it out here to see all the coverage yourself).

Perhaps more impressively, she’s garnered more than 110,000 Instagram followers, who call themselves #JATribe. Her jewelry is a favorite of so many celebrities, with singer Rihanna and actress Kate Mara almost never appearing without sporting some Jacquie Aiche.

While she launched her line in 2005, her website admits the designer was “virtually unknown five years ago.” In my opinion, the designer’s candor and marketing savvy – in addition to a creative take on jewelry, of course – are at the root of her rapid success. 99% of jewelry designers would never think of producing look books, videos and local print campaigns featuring boldly nude and half-dressed models lounging around in their jewelry, but Aiche does just that in order to show the free spirit connotations she wants the brand to impart. She knows her audience and she’s not afraid to push boundaries to capture them.

So many jewelry brands use sterile, boring language on their websites and in other media to describe who they are. On the other hand, Aiche reveals her humanity beautifully and explains how her own outlook on life suffuses her jewelry in this short paragraph on her website:

“On any given day she can be found traipsing barefoot through the Beverly Hills showroom, tending to her ethereal gardens, or carousing with the brand’s ever-growing list of celebrity clientele. Virtually unknown 5 years ago, Jacquie has quickly established herself as a ‘need to know’ designer for stylists and luminaries alike. Her signature body chains and finger bracelets bring a sense of much needed whimsy to the often-conservative world of high-end jewelry.”

Aiche even recently did an interview for describing her enjoyment of marijuana and use of the cannabis leaf as a motif in her jewelry. Will that turn off a lot of people? Absolutely. Is Aiche afraid of doing so? Not a whit. And that’s why her star is rising so swiftly. Those that do love her and her jewelry are fiercely loyal and passionate about the brand because Aiche has connected with them through her irreverence, like designing jewelry based on cannabis leaves. She’s also connected with them through her Instagram posts, her organic and empowering campaign images, and through her jewelry message which is one of everyday wear, layering and designs for the entire body.

Now, I’m not saying all of you should go out and start promoting yourself as marijuana users or photographing nude models in your jewelry! What I am saying is that people want to connect with their jewelry as personally as possible, and that starts with you, the retailer, and the designers you carry. The more they know you and IDENTIFY with you, the more loyal they will become.


Jacquie Aiche website home – The Jacquie Aiche campaign, right on the front page of her website, connotes a free spirit and a happy sense of life combined with layered jewelry across all parts of the body.


Jacquie Aiche website home campaign example – The designers’ campaign uses partial nudity to deliver a message of freedom from mental constraints.


Kate Mara wears Jacquie Aiche jewelry regularly and has been seen in this interesting ear cuff many times, as have several other well-known actresses.

photo: Getty


Rihanna is one of Aiche’s biggest fans in the #JATribe.

photo: rihanna-diva


Jacquie Aiche Instagram home page – Jacquie Aiche boasts more than 110,000 followers on Instagram… and growing.


Jacquie Aiche Instagram example – More than 2,000 followers favorited this recent Instagram post.

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]]> (Trace Shelton) Customer Service Mon, 22 Sep 2014 00:00:00 +0000