JEWELLERY EDITORIAL

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2016/02/12

Lately I’ve been trying to figure out what it takes to be successful as a jewellery retailer or independent designer today—particularly in the U.S.
 

Many independent retailers have complained that business is in decline. Family owned jewellers continue to close their doors in US at a rapid pace, partly due to slowing sales, but also because the demands of the job are too much for small operators (eCommerce, social media marketing, specifying inventory) and partly due because children want to do something else with their lives.
 

Jewellery Designer Working
Photo Source: Shutterstock

Meanwhile, independent designers, who I have the most contact with, have their own issues. Whether they work with independent retailers or luxury department store chains they complain that the cost and difficulty of doing business with them has become onerous. They have to provide their pieces on memo and deal with all marketing costs. The cost of quality gems and equipment is also rising so these designers have to learn to be more resourcing when buying and producing product.

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Photo Source: Shutterstock
 

These are not new complaints. But with the lack of stability in the global economy and the changing buying habits of consumers, it just exacerbates the situation.
 

Despite these issues there are those who are doing well and there are some reasons why this is the case.
 

Being big seems to help … a lot. Once Signet Jewellers purchased Zale Corp., it became by far the largest specialty retail jeweller in the U.S. with 1,400 locations serving low, middle and upper market consumers. This size brings a lot of advantages. It has leverage when negotiating prices with manufacturers because of the volume they buy. It can eliminate redundancies and use technology to further increase efficiencies when managing inventories.
 

zales


While the above advantages control operating costs, the most important advantage, I think, is the ability to spend on marketing and advertising. This is what helps to increase sales.
 

For example, as I previously wrote, Signet’s “Ever Us” two-diamond ring promotion that was used for several of the company’s brands, including Kay, Zale and Jared in the US, was the biggest new launch in the company’s history—doing well in all the stores that carried the program.

 

Most importantly, it crosses over gift giving categories so it’s a promotion that can be used year round. It is one of many promotions, including celebrity partnerships and diamond branding, used by Signet for its retail brands.

 

Independents and regional chains who try to compete with Signet on the same level will find it an uphill climb. The way independent jewellers can distinguish themselves is with specifying product that is unique and unusual.

 

This is where designer brands come in. But jewellers are looking for a sure thing. Those designers who started their business in 1980s and 1990s and have strong brand recognition are doing well. Those who are newer have a much more difficult time convincing retailers to carry their product. Several established designers told me they said they couldn’t make it if they started now.

 

I don’t know if I have the answers but retailers who are struggling have to do something different than what they are used to doing. That includes taking on new designers and promoting them.

 

Designers who have difficulties selling their work to retail jewellers also need to look at selling directly to the consumer.

 


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2016/02/11

The holiday madness is over and it is back to the daily grind of running a retail store. Selling jewellery on a day to day basis can become a routine task. It is easy to slip into a selling rut; using the same approach, spouting the same tired sales pitch, and showing the same products to each customer.  Here are 6 tips to break out of the rut, sharpen your selling skills and engage your customer.

 

 

1. The non-approach

Even if you are a master at asking leading questions, when greeting a new customer you will often hear the dreaded “I’m just looking.”  Let’s acknowledge it right at the beginning and get over with it: “Hi, welcome to XYZ jewellers.  We have a vast array of jewellery designs.  Feel free to take a look around.   I’ll check back with you in a bit.”   The most important part is telling them you’ll check on them.  When you approach them again, you are fulfilling a promise in a non-threatening way.  Now you can engage them without being pushy.

 

2. Show the best first

Never underestimate the buying power of any individual.  No matter what they ask to see, always show them the very best that matches the category. If they say they can’t afford it, have them try it on anyway.   Where they first had the experience of her wearing a 6 ct diamond or having a $100,000 tourbillon watch on his wrist is a place they will always remember.  They will be back when they can afford it.   Sometimes they will surprise you and buy it now, you never know

 

3. Ask for an opinion

One of the best ways to engage a customer is to ask for an opinion.  While she is browsing, pull a few items from a showcase.  Call her over and explain that you will be changing the display and would like her advice.  Does she think the items go together well enough to be featured in the display?  Or show her a coloured stone and ask if it would look better is silver of gold?  When a customer is helping you, they become part of the experience and are more likely to buy from your store. 

 

4. The impossible task

Find the 3 items in your inventory that you are least comfortable about showing.  Learn everything you can about them; to the point of being an expert.  For 3 consecutive days, show each of the 3 items to at least 3 customers.  If you are diligent in this challenge, it is impossible to finish it. At least 2 of the items will be sold before you can complete the task.

 

5. Pocket rocks

Keep a loose diamond or coloured stone in your pocket.  Show it to everyone who walks into your store.  Use a variety of lead-ins:  “We just got this, you’re one of the first to see it” or “Check this out, what do you think I should do with it?”  Or “Have you ever held a 5 ct unheated Burmese Ruby?”   Get a discussion going and get the stone in their hands.  You’ll probably need another stone before too long,

 

6. Have fun

The above techniques are all designed to engage the customer, get them into a conversation and make them part of the experience of being in your store.  They work best if you have fun with it.  If you can get your customer laughing over a shared experience, you’ll have a customer for life.


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2016/02/10

It’s been nearly 10 years since the movie “Blood Diamond” starring Leonardo DiCaprio was released to the condemnation and protestations of the diamond industry, since the fictional tale was largely about the use of illegally mined diamonds to finance the very real civil war in Sierra Leone.

 

Diamond Foundry diamond display
Diamond Foundry diamond display

 

A decade later DiCaprio is back being a thorn in the diamond industry. Not with a motion picture but as a high-profile investor in the Diamond Foundry, a Silicon Valley business that makes lab-grown diamonds. In addition to DiCaprio, there are reportedly a number of Silicon Valley billionaire executives invested in the project, including Facebook COO, Owen van Natta, former eBay President Jeff Skoll, and Twitter cofounder, Evan Williams.

 

The company CEO is R. Martin Roscheisen, a technology entrepreneur based in Silicon Valley, who founded a number of successful firms in industries ranging from legal publishing to solar energy. Another name that stands out is Wendi Murdoch, the former wife of media mogul Rupert Murdoch, who has the title of “Style & Art Council.”

 

The company has also poached high-profile talent from the diamond industry, including Maarten de Witte, formerly of Hearts On Fire, and Israel Itzkowitz, inventor of the princess cut.

 

The company claims, which I find dubious, that its process produces diamonds that are more real than in other lab-grown diamonds. It also says it can produce hundreds of diamonds (up to nine carats) at once in just a few weeks.

 

The diamond industry has used various means to help keep the lab-grown diamond market small. It has been successful in lobbying major regulatory and standards organizations to insist on the word “synthetic” to describe diamonds grown in a lab. The industry has been equally successful in getting the market to use the word. Synthetic implies fake to the average consumer, which lumps these real diamonds in with lab-grown gems cubic zirconia and Moissanite rather than with mined diamonds.

 

However, this company with its financial and intellectual capital will be a much more formidable opponent. In fact, the Diamond Foundry has become a founding member of the International Grown Diamond Association, along with at least 10 other lab-grown diamond producers, distributors and retailers. The trade organization, led by Vishal Mehta, CEO of IIa Technologies, Singapore, says its mandate is to “promote grown diamonds as a new choice in diamonds and educate about various unique qualities and applications of grown diamonds.”

 

The diamond industry reacted as it normally does to these kinds of threats—with fear, condemnation, outrage and general hysteria. One person published an argument where he shamelessly conjured up the ghost of Nelson Mandela to make his case.

 

One company isn’t going to destroy the diamond industry. What it will do is provide more choice for consumers and open up more income streams in the jewelry industry for more people. That’s if it’s even successful.

 


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2016/02/09

Inspired by Maharashtra government’s active support, India’s Gem & Jewellery Export Promotion Council (GJEPC) has come forward with its plans to develop a state-of-art Jewellery Park on the outskirts of Mumbai. On day-3 of the 9th edition of Signature IIJS show, Chairman of the Council Mr. Praveenshankar Pandya held a special meeting with the manufacturers and exporters of gem & jewellery sector to explain them details and benefits of the proposed jewellery park.

 

Mumbai to get a jewellery park soon
Mumbai to get a jewellery park soon

 

Industry Minister of Maharashtra Mr. Subhash Desai, who inaugurated Signature IIJS on 5th Feb, 2016 in Mumbai assured GJEPC to allot a plot for the proposed ‘Mumbai Jewellery Park’ in the vicinity of Thene-Belapur (near Mumbai) industrial belt.

 

Mr. Desai said, “My government has high regards for the gem and jewellery industry as the industry has elevated the state as well as the country on the global scale. Maharashtra is the largest manufacturer of jewellery which contributes 15% to the country’s GDP. Out of India’s total exports, 35% of the exports of the gem and jewellery industry take place from Maharashtra.” He further gave assertion of focusing on skill developments as the gem and jewellery industry is in need of more skilled manpower. He also declared his government’s support in constructing the individual gem and jewellery park and international convention centre near Mumbai, a long pending demand of the industry. He said that currently the government is in the process of finalizing land for the proposed gem and jewellery park. He further stated that the overall number of clearances for the manufacturing industries in Maharashtra has come down from 70 to 37 and his government is trying to reduce it to 25.

 

Addressing the meeting Mr. Pandya said, “Mumbai is the leading centre of jewellery manufacturing, not only for domestic segment but for exports too. We have been growing year after year for last two decades in jewellery manufacturing worldwide. But keeping the pace with the changing time and to further improve standards of our quality, we need to improvise and upgrade in terms of technology, design and infrastructure. We also need to maintain dignity of our laborers and artisans. Keeping all this in mind, the GJEPC with the active support of state and central governments has decided to plan a state-of-art gem & jewellery park in Mumbai. The park would accommodate small and large units of jewellery manufacturers, service providers, banks and customs for export facilities under one roof.”

 

“The proposed park, planned to be erected in a space of about 25 acres of plot, would be developed and designed as tourist attraction centre with small cluster of shops for SMEs where the unit-holders would be allowed to display and sell their quality products. The smallest unit available in the park would be of 300 square feet. Bigger space would be offered in multiplication of 300 sq. ft. The Council also plans to provide a medical and health centre, school and college within the vicinity of the park for betterment of its workers, artisans and stakeholders,” he added.

 

This would be first such park of its kind in India which would prove to be a great asset for the domestic and international gems & jewellery industry. It would be equipped with the best technology and machines with higher efficiency and better work culture which would bring a difference to the business of gems & jewellery sector in terms of quality, quantity and environment.

 

Industrial park now has become integral part of the business model for leading sectors world over as it provides a suitable platform to enhance trade development in terms of sustained quality, quantity with maintaining the environmental standards. The main thrust of the proposed park is to offer a convenient jewellery manufacturing site to the handmade and small scale sector. 


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2016/02/05

The stars were out and the couture was on point at the Screen Actors Guild (SAG) Awards 2016 in Los Angeles, as some of the States’ best actresses dressed to impress for the annual awards ceremony held on January 30.

 

The most striking jewellery trend from the red carpet was a preference for creative earrings over elaborate neckwear. Mad Men star Christina Hendricks wore a pair of diamond chandelier earrings by Butani that hung well below her jaw line, while Queen Latifah, who won a SAG Award for her role in Bessie, opted for a long pair of geometric earrings studded with dark gemstones by Bavna.

 

TV presenter Zuri Hall wore a dazzling pair of modern diamond-set abstract hoops by Antonini that looped and twisted from her lobes. Kathryn Hahn, who stars in Amazon TV show Transparent, also opted for diamond earrings with a pair by Sethi Couture with baguette-cut diamonds creating a rectangular frame, while SAG nominee Diane Lane chose colourful earrings by Harry Kotlar that teamed white emerald-cut diamonds, yellow marquise-cut diamonds and round emeralds.

 

TV presenter Zuri Hall wore these diamond earrings by Antonini during the SAG Awards

TV presenter Zuri Hall wore these diamond earrings by Antonini during the SAG Awards

 

Kathryn Hahn, who starred in Amazon series Transparent, wore this pair of Sethi Couture diamond earrings Kathryn Hahn, who starred in Amazon series Transparent, wore this pair of Sethi Couture diamond earrings

Kathryn Hahn, who starred in Amazon series Transparent, wore this pair of Sethi Couture diamond earrings. Photo Source: Helga Esteb / Shutterstock
 

Nominee Diane Lane wore this pair of diamond and emerald earrings made by Harry Kotlar Kathryn Hahn, who starred in Amazon series Transparent, wore this pair of Sethi Couture diamond earrings

Nominee Diane Lane wore this pair of diamond and emerald earrings made by Harry Kotlar
Photo Source: Helga Esteb / Shutterstock

 

Some stars opted for creative studs over long earrings, such as Spotlight actress Rachel McAdams who wore a pair of large cluster studs by Harry Kotlar that were set with baguette-cut and pear-shaped diamonds.

SAG Award winner Rachel McAdams wore this pair of Harry Kotlar diamond earrings

Rachel McAdams wore Harry Hotlar diamond earrings in Elie Saab gown
Photo Source: Helga Esteb / Shutterstock

SAG Award winner Rachel McAdams wore this pair of Harry Kotlar diamond earrings

Rachel McAdams wore this pair of Harry Kotlar diamond earrings

 

Younger stars opted for luxe versions of some of the new trend-led earring styles that have proved popular in recent seasons. Modern Family star Ariel Winter chose a pair of diamond-set earrings by Jack Vartanian that crept up and out from her lobe, while Orange is the New Black actress Kimiko Glenn wore a pair of creative ear climbers by LeVian set with white and chocolate diamonds.

Modern Family star Ariel Winter wore these Jack Vartanian diamond earrings Modern Family star Ariel Winter wore these Jack Vartanian diamond earrings

Modern Family star Ariel Winter attended the 22nd SAG Awards
Photo Source: Helga Esteb / Shutterstock

 

Modern Family star Ariel Winter wore these Jack Vartanian diamond earrings

Modern Family star Ariel Winter wore these Jack Vartanian diamond earrings

 

Orange is the New Black actress Kimiko Glenn wore this pair Le Vian diamond ear climbers to the SAG Awards 2016

Orange is the New Black actress Kimiko Glenn in Maalouf strapless gown attended the 22nd SAG Awards
Photo Source: Helga Esteb / Shutterstock
 

Orange is the New Black actress Kimiko Glenn wore this pair Le Vian diamond ear climbers to the SAG Awards 2016

Kimiko Glenn wore this pair Le Vian diamond ear climbers to the SAG Awards 2016

 

While rings remained popular on the red carpet at the SAG Awards 2016, it was the statement earrings that certainly stole the show.

 


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