Jewelry Industry News Trends Analysis | Jewelry Show and Exhibition Mon, 01 Sep 2014 23:27:37 +0000 Joomla! - Open Source Content Management en-gb "Mood Board" Motivates Sales Team, Clients

When Paolo Salamone of Paolo: A Modern Jeweler (Cincinnati, OH) wrote his essay for INSTORE’s December 2012 lead story, he said, “Jewelry needs to become a force in fashion. We should enjoy our jewelry as much as our clothing.” This quest to make jewelry just as desirable as clothing to his customers drives Paolo every day, and one of the byproducts has been the creation of a “mood board” in the store.

“It started out as kind of a joke,” admits Paolo. “We would post funny things on the wall to keep the mood light.” But then, he says, the mood board morphed into something far more inspirational than humorous. “We have everything from our best: Designs, advertisements, hot jewelry/fashion trends, and jewelers that have offered us their mentoring.”

I was flattered and more than a little humbled when Paolo texted me a few weeks ago to tell me I had made the mood board (one of my recent Editor’s Notes from INDESIGN is on the current board, as well as some editorial picks and designer ads from the magazine) – especially considering my company on the board. “We often add cool automobiles, our favorite hotels and cities, etc.,” says Paolo. “Our design team loves it. We shared it with our 75-year-old master jeweler, and he loved the fact that our younger staff is so motivated by fashion.” Paolo says that his salespeople even share it with clients, who love the interaction. “Some have picked up on certain images and pulled them into their design conversation.”

The mood board is more than a collage of pictures, says Paolo – it’s a reflection of the state and, yes, the mood of the company. “All in all, it’s an awesome way to allow for some creative outlets, ensuring we stay on top of the industry by showcasing our talented staff’s inspiring reflections.”

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]]> (Trace Shelton) Customer Service Mon, 01 Sep 2014 00:00:00 +0000
What Would You Trade for a Bag of Pinto Beans?

The data-sorting process continues as we prepare the results of our 2014 Big Survey for the October edition of INSTORE. And, while we've been through this many times before, the responses never cease to amaze us. Here is a good example: the pre-editor's cut of Question 18: What’s the most interesting thing you’ve taken in as barter or trade-in in lieu of a cash payment? Enjoy!

According to an African proverb: “He who wants to barter, usually knows what is best for him.” Keep that in mind as you read through our list of the most interesting things jewelers take in, in roughly descending order.


Not surprisingly jewelers were most willing to trade for goods they know most about -- jewelry and gemstones. The items ranged from the grand (a Cartier multi-color sapphire and diamond necklace) to the esoteric (a silver ring made by a political prisoner in Northern Ireland) to the prosaic (a bucket full of tumbled Minnesota agates).

One we especially liked: "Old bone beads. She said they were ivory, I knew they weren't but they were gorgeous!"


Just about everything made from gold, from krugerrands, to "a car key shaped in the form of an old lover" to a one-kilogram gold bar, and lots and lots and LOTS of teeth.

One we especially liked: "A solid 14K gold loupe on a 30-inch rope chain. Always wanted one."


A security camera system, telephone system, a new safe, tools, a steamer, hurricane shutters and lots of services from HVAC ductwork to production of TV commercials and repaving the car park.

One we especially liked:

"AC/heating unit, which I traded for a diamond pendant and earring set."


A stained glass window, landscaping, a saltwater-pool filter, bathroom tiles, a granite counter for the kitchen, a Playstation 3, a fence, a bridge, and even a mounted buffalo head, we all understand, but mulch?


Plumbers and auto-repair shops and even the odd acupuncturist have a chance of bartering their skills for jewelry, but it's dentists who by far were the most successful in striking a deal.


The sheer range is impressive: An antique bowling machine, Republic of Texas currency, reindeer mukluks from the 1928 Byrd polar expedition, a vintage Barbie collection, a 1920 Lacoultre clock, Tiffany platinum and diamond theatre glasses, a horseshoe crab fossil and pre-Columbian carved green figurine.


Jewelers reported bartering for no fewer than THREE Corvettes. Other models included an '89 Mustang, a Porsche, a 1936 Ford pickup Rat Rod and a Cabriolet Convertible. But the coolest of the lot had to be an Isetta. (There was also the odd motorbike and even a golf cart.)


Where to? Cape Cod, Cabo, Sardinia, Spain, or undoubtedly the best offer: "first class airline tickets anywhere in the world."


If someone walked into our store with an automatic rifle, we'd be worried, but jewelers obviously love their guns: Shotguns, pistols, rifles even an Imperial German officer's sword were all accepted in barter.


David Geller wouldn't approve, but one jeweler traded a repair job for homemade pie. Other edibles included lobster, craft beer, wine, sausages, "barbecue meals from a restaurant owner," organic eggs and "4 gallons of local honey." One response that brings to mind Jack and the Beanstalk -- "loads of corn."


We're guessing the following transactions took place at the height of the housing crisis: A piece of land on an island, a nice buildable lot in a cute subdivision in a neighboring town, a condo, a bank building, and a two-family house.


One jeweler told us he traded "a bottom paint job" on his boat while another swapped jewelry for an Andy Warhol piece. The jeweler who bartered for "three paintings by an artist I really admire" is one WE admire for trusting his artistic instincts.


Among half a dozen references to puppies and parrots was this endearing quote: "My dad owned his jewelry store for 50 years and was a great barterer. One time he came home with 30 chickens, and another time he came home with a saddle (I was 7 years old), and a week later a horse showed up. The worst trade he made (in my opinion) was two 100-pound sacks of pinto beans. Not fond of those things to this day!


Back in Eastern Europe in the 19th century it was common for jewelers/pawn shops to deal in musical instruments. It's less the case now but a handful of jewelers mentioned bartering for a piano, a clarinet, a flute and banjo. "And I regret the hell out of it," said the jeweler of that last item.


What's left? A grab bag of luxury goods like mink coats, sports and camping equipment (including a canoe that came with a puppy), and some that simply defy categorization … How do you price "A really good joke"? Still it was the two jewelers who said they trade goods for sex that intrigued us most ... you didn't really?

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]]> (Chris Burslem) Customer Service Fri, 29 Aug 2014 00:00:00 +0000
Fill in the Blank: Time’s Swift Passage


to "Fill in the Blank," a weekly helping of nutritious thought for growing jewelry store owners.
__________ makes me feel like I’m getting old.

Welcome to "Fill in the Blank," a weekly helping of nutritious thought for growing jewelry store-owners.

Instructions: Fill in the blank with the first thing that comes into your mind. Think of these as a Rorschach test for jewelers. Oh, and for extra credit, you might explain in a separate paragraph why you think answered the way you did. Because that's always interesting, too — the so-called "method behind the madness." Thanks for participating! And check back every Friday for more blank-filling mayhem.


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]]> (William Irwin) Around the Web Fri, 29 Aug 2014 00:00:00 +0000
The Jeweler: Ex Wife

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, 27 Aug 2014 00:00:00 +0000
The Emmys and MTV’s VMAs . . . and Black Diamonds

There was no escaping the riot of red dresses on the red carpet of this year’s Primetime Emmy Awards. But as I watched what celebrities wore to the week’s pre- and post-Emmy events as well as to the annual MTV Video Music Awards (VMAs) on Sunday night and its parties, I realized there was no shortage of black diamond jewelry either.

The many versions of dark diamond jewels wasn’t completely unexpected. “It’s kind of edgy and avant-garde,” jeweler to the stars Neil Lane said in an “Access Hollywood” interview last week, prior to the small screen’s 66th annual big night, discussing his Emmy jewelry predictions. He made a good point, adding, “They sparkle, yet don’t take away from what someone’s wearing.” The choice of black diamond designs by young Hollywood, especially, was refreshing. To me, what stood out, in particular, was their preference for simple and classic as well as bold and non-traditional. Notably, black diamond studs showed up at many awards week celebrations—and they weren’t tucked inside the outer curve of the ear or high atop or worn as one of many ear adornments trailing bottom to top, inside and out. Instead, the stud was often the ear’s main event, so to speak: usually a single stone—not a cluster—worn at the base of the lobe.

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]]> (Lorraine DePasque) Designers/Jewelry Thu, 28 Aug 2014 00:00:00 +0000
Red Carpet to Reality: Do the Stars Help You Make Sales?

First things first: Let’s do the obligatory rundown of all things Emmys. Earrings—whether studs or chandeliers, in diamonds or color—seemed mandatory on the red carpet. Their popularity was nearly matched by the look of expertly stacked bracelets.

Mad Men star Christina Hendricks was one of the night’s best jeweled and wore both: girandole earrings and layers of gold cuffs from Fred Leighton. Fashion forward awards circuit darlings, like Taylor Schilling and Michelle Dockery, chose out-of-the-box options. The statuesque star of Orange is the New Black wore ear climbers from Forevermark, while the Downton Abbey actress dressed in minimalist pieces—including a hair accessory—in gold, diamonds and pearls by Ana Khouri.

In the end, I’m curious which red carpet jewelry looks—not just now, but ever—are the ones that have had lasting resonance in your consciousness and maybe at the register, too. For all the breathless attention we pay to whether pinky rings or more popular than rivière necklaces, from one show to the next, does it all amount to more than dress-up for millionaires? When Angelina Jolie wore Lorraine Schwartz’ emerald earrings to the 2009 Oscars, she seemingly single-handedly increased interest in the stone. How often do you see a direct connection between Hollywood and what your hometown clients demand?

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]]> (Tanya Dukes) Designers/Jewelry Wed, 27 Aug 2014 00:00:00 +0000
Secrets of a Smooth-Selling Shark

Although you might not suspect it upon first chatting with the amiable Donna Burgess, the Tennessee native is what sales trainer Shane Decker would categorize as a missile. In other words, she's a Type A personality who gets straight to the point and the point is to sell jewelry. If you need more evidence this grandmother of 11 is a shark, she relaxes by reading murder mysteries, especially the serial-killer kind.

Donna is a “Smooth Seller” featured in the September issue of INSTORE. With $2.8 million in annual personal sales, she is a valuable part of the remarkable team at Occasions Fine Jewelry in Midland, TX.

“I started out at a corporation in 1999 and after three months in jewelry sales, I was asked whether I wanted to be a manager,” she says. “But I hated that. I want to be selling and the only pressure I want to feel is that which I put on myself."

“My biggest sale was a 5.56 carat round diamond that was $121,000,” Donna says. “They were already married and they just got a new diamond to go on her mounting. Those don’t happen every day. My average ticket is 900-something dollars. It takes a lot of thousand dollar sales to get to $2.8 million.”

But even a shark has got to be smooth. It starts with finessing the greeting: “I’m for some reason very good with names,” Donna says. “I try to greet them by name and ask, `How’s everything today?' or `What can I help you find?' Not like, `What can I shove down your throat today?’

“I start closing at the beginning. I say, “I’ve got just what you need right here. I’ve got the earrings to go with the pendant you bought last time.” On engagement rings -- if he says he’s just not sure -- I’ve been known to say, “Go ahead, close your eyes and jump in.”

“I use the customer’s name. I always shake hands, maybe not at the beginning of the sale, but I try to walk them at least part of the way to the door. Sometimes, I’ll pat their arm, maybe just a touch. And I always send a thank-you note and tell them that I appreciate it.”

Like many sales superstars I’ve interviewed, Donna says she is very superstitious. “If I put on something I haven’t worn before and I have a horrible day, I may not ever wear that to work again.” I know we’ve all heard those cautionary tales — the kind where pre-judging a customer is just about the biggest mistake you can make. But I like Donna’s version of it -- and it’s a good thing to keep in mind as the holiday selling season approaches. Some of your best customers could well come out of nowhere and take you by surprise:

"A few years into my job here, an older man came in in late November or early December. He was dirty, his fingernails were dirty, and one pant leg was tucked into his boot that was covered in mud,” Donna says. "One of the sales people walked around him to get to a couple coming in. I asked him what he needed, and he said, `I want a pair of white gold hoops.’ I asked him if he wanted diamonds, but he said he wanted plain white gold hoops. We picked out a pair and I asked him if he wanted me to wrap it up, but he said he needed another thing or two. He walked around the store and picked out things that were all less than $5,000, but wound up with $42,000 worth of jewelry. And then he said, `Oh, I didn’t bring the right credit card. But I can come back. Can you have everything gift wrapped for me tomorrow?’ He was very confident, not cocky, just confident, so I wondered about it, but I got everything gift-wrapped and he was there the next day with the check, dressed totally different. That makes an impression that you don’t forget."

More good advice from our interview:

“The only right way to sell is the way that works for you. Consumers are smart enough to see through a slick sales pitch. If you just be yourself you are so much better off.”

Try to be in the best mood you can be and say a lot of prayers. Even if you’re having a crappy morning, when you walk in the door everything has to be better. This has to be your happy place.

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]]> (Eileen McClelland) Best Practices Tue, 26 Aug 2014 00:00:00 +0000
What I've Learned on a Golf Course

The golf course has been the context of many of my business deals over the years. I've never used golf or riding in the cart to discuss business. I've let my play do the talking for me.

Years ago, I happened to get paired up with Russ Cohen with Carlyle & Co, which at the time had 25 stores. I never discussed business during the entire round, instead discussing Tar Heel basketball and other sports.

At the end of the round, he asked if I give golf lessons. I said yes as long, as I get an appointment with his buyers. Within the week, I was in Greensboro meeting with the buyers ... and a lesson for him in the afternoon.

There are so many business lessons to be learned from golf that translate into business.

Here are tips that I've learned over the years.


1. Think ahead and work back. 

GOLF: Play each hole backwards in your mind. Start with the pin; choose the easiest place in the fairway to get to the pin from, and the best way to get there from the tee. Then go ahead and play the hole in manageable stages. When I teach beginners, I start from the putting green backwards to the driving range. Every stroke counts in golf. It's easier to master the short putt first.

 BUSINESS: Choose an ultimate goal and work out how to get there. Think backwards. No one starts his or her career as a CEO, and no business person will be an industry leader on Day One. Identify the stages you need to complete before you're ready for the next.

2. Make firm decisions and commit to them.

GOLF: Indecisiveness is ruinous. It's crucial to make firm decisions and commit to them — especially on the greens. Too many times I've held a 7 iron in my hand only to have my brain tell me to use an 8 iron. At that moment, I've lost my commitment to the shot. 

 BUSINESS: Too often, in the corporate world and public sector today, decisive people are viewed as arrogant and autocratic. However, in my experience, people who take the responsibility for making decisions are most likely to have the commitment to implement them successfully.

3. Having fun.

GOLF: (This is my favorite) Having fun is the key to playing well. A bad attitude invariably leads to a bad score. When we enjoy ourselves, we get the most out of games in every respect. I'm guilty of not having fun for many years on the course.  It showed in my attitude and was evident to those around me. Once I realized many years ago that I would not be playing on the tour, the game became more fun and it showed.

 BUSINESS: People who enjoy what they do invariably do a better job. Happy people are more productive, take pride in what they do and maintain higher standards overall.

4. Competition is good.

GOLF: Competition requires us to give our best with each and every shot. And the more we compete, the better we get at it.

 BUSINESS: When businesses strive to outdo each other with better products and services, everyone wins.

5. Learn from the best.

GOLF: I have taken lessons from some of the top PGA teachers in America. Today, I'm a high school golf coach and I use what I have learned to teach my team. I learned from the best.

 BUSINESS: Leaders in any field are usually happy to share their knowledge with those who are hungry to learn. But you have to ask at the right time, in the right way, then be prepared to put into practice what they pass on.

6. Don't get ahead of yourself.

GOLF: Most golfers know what it's like to score well in the early holes, then start anticipating the round of your life, and immediately have your game fall apart. On the golf course, you must stay in the present until the very end. As a teacher, I had a new student tell me after his second full round on the course, why he couldn't hit the ball as far as myself. I had never gotten upset with a student until that moment. It has taken me hitting millions of range balls over the past 45 years to do what I do on a course. I found his comment insulting. He was years away from just hitting the ball straight.

 BUSINESS: While it's good to be encouraged by positive early results, don't make overly optimistic assumptions about business outcomes. Above all, don't spend money, hire staff or set budgets until your income levels are certain.  

7. Learn from your mistakes.

GOLF: Most of the mistakes we make in golf are mental errors: bad decisions in club selection or shots. Mistakes are inevitable and learning from them is crucial to future success. With every shot in a round, I can count the exact mistakes that caused my score. 

 BUSINESS: We all make mistakes in business. It could even be argued that making mistakes is useful in the long run — but only if we learn from them. My late uncle, Eddie Brown, the founder of B&N Jewelry, once said, "The only mistake you ever make in business is financial."

8. Play to your strengths. 

GOLF: Confidence is huge in golf. If you have a favorite club, use it more often, choking down where necessary. If you prefer full  pitches rather than half shots, lay up accordingly. If you're happier putting from the fringe rather than chipping, do so.

 BUSINESS: Many successful people do not possess giant intellects or great versatility, they simply stick to the things they know and do it best. Those who stray outside their area of expertise often court disaster.

For those of you who play golf, you fully understand my article. For those very few of you that know nothing about the game, replace the word golf with your own hobby, passion or sport.

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]]> (Jeff Unger) Guest Blogs Mon, 25 Aug 2014 00:00:00 +0000
Turning Around a Sinking Store

If there was one "good" thing about the Great Recession, it was that just about all retailers had company in their misery. With the economy in such a bad way, it was hard for anyone to thrive no matter how strong their business model.

The danger of such a situation is that it disguised problems not related to the economy. And now five years on, we occasionally hear from jewelers frustrated that their store's performance has not bounced back with the economy. The obvious conclusion to draw is that something is fundamentally amiss with their business, and that if it is not addressed soon, they will find it difficult to stay afloat.

A recent report published by McKinsey & Co offers a five-step road turnaround roadmap for retailers who find themselves in such "distressed" straits. The advice in the report is aimed at big corporations but much of it is also applicable to smaller businesses.

The first stage of the process sounds easy and obvious: acknowledge that your business is in trouble. Although as McKinsey notes, for managers or business owners accustomed to success, this can be difficult and humbling. "Denial is the norm," it notes. If earnings remain depressed and your store is losing resale value, you need to act while there's still time.

In the second stage, which McKinsey calls "Believe Nothing, Prove Everything,” you need to understand the real cause of your store's underperformance in a fact-based way. "Company myths can be pervasive and difficult to dispel; many companies move reflexively to action based on long-held beliefs and assumptions, not taking the time to figure out if they’re attacking the right problem," the consultancy says. According to McKinsey's own research, 60 percent of companies that do a "diagnostic" achieve a successful turnaround. The success rate was only 34 percent among companies that didn’t undertake one.

"The diagnostic should bring to light what’s not working, but it should also highlight what’s working well. Often, companies become too absorbed pinpointing the problems and overlook inherent strengths in their businesses that can help them overcome their difficulties. "

Stage 3 is "Act Early and Aggressively." Once the causes of distress are clear, a retailer must move quickly and boldly. An action-oriented plan and ambitious targets are required.

Stage 4, “Fire on All Cylinders,” is probably the key one for a small-store owner. Too often, retail executives in turnaround situations think only about cost cutting. While reducing expenses is necessary when the company is in survival mode, it won’t always address the root causes that led to the crisis in the first place.

According to McKinsey's research, cost issues were the cause of distress in one-third of turnarounds, while two-thirds of the time the cause was a challenge to the business model, such as discounters entering the market or customers moving online. Yet when respondents listed the actions their company took during the turnaround, almost two-thirds of the actions were focused on costs and didn’t address challenges related to the business model.

"Without thoughtful business-model actions—format renewal or reinvention, shifts in the trading strategy (in assortment, pricing, or communications, for example), or even a major change to the business model—the company faces a heightened risk of returning to a distressed situation," McKinsey says.

The last stage: “Make it Stick.”

McKinsey advocates hiring a "chief restructuring officer" for a limited period, typically nine to 18 months, to drive a turnaround. Obviously that's not an option for a brick-and-mortar store, but there are other ways to tap outside expertise is either in the form of a consultant, a volunteer advisor from the SBA, or some other person who can look at your situation and offer help based on experience with struggling businesses.

A second recommendation is also interesting: Increased focus on performance reviews. Again, according to McKinsey's work, successful retail turnarounds saw executives spend three times as much time on working with employees to boost productivity or assess their contribution.

"This level of central control may seem like overkill, but our experience shows that without it, different parts of the business can easily report delivery of 'turnaround benefits' while the profit-and-loss statement stubbornly stays the same. Our research shows that turnarounds with strong governance are seven times more likely to succeed than those without it."

The final takeaway from the report is that yes times remain tough for retailers. But being in a distressed situation needn't be a cause for despair. "If retail leaders face the facts early, identify and address the root causes of their financial distress, take costs out quickly, and ensure disciplined execution, they can deliver—and rapidly move beyond—a turnaround," it says.

There's not much mention of the pain involved, but there is hope of light at the end of the tunnel.

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]]> (Chris Burslem) Customer Service Fri, 22 Aug 2014 00:00:00 +0000
Fill in the Blank: How Was Your Vacation


to "Fill in the Blank," a weekly helping of nutritious thought for growing jewelry store owners.
This year, for summer vacation, I ___________.

Welcome to "Fill in the Blank," a weekly helping of nutritious thought for growing jewelry store-owners.

Instructions: Fill in the blank with the first thing that comes into your mind. Think of these as a Rorschach test for jewelers. Oh, and for extra credit, you might explain in a separate paragraph why you think answered the way you did. Because that's always interesting, too — the so-called "method behind the madness." Thanks for participating! And check back every Friday for more blank-filling mayhem.


For daily news, blogs and tips jewelers need, subscribe to our email bulletins here.

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]]> (William Irwin) Around the Web Fri, 22 Aug 2014 00:00:00 +0000