If Jim Woodard of Woodard’s Diamonds & Design in Tullahoma, TN, had a bridal room in his store, which is something he’s always wanted, he’d let his imagination take flight. “I want waterfalls, tropical birds, maybe a couple of monkeys in a tux, an open sky roof,” he muses.
Connie Stagner of Acori Diamonds & Design in Friendswood, TX, recently remodeled her front office for this purpose, with a mini bar and an unexpected twist: she’s waiting for her taxidermist to deliver a mounted bobcat to add more character to the room and no doubt create a rustic Texas experience.
But while we appreciate such creativity, the bobcat is not yet installed, so here we will explore other, more traditional ideas. The trend is toward areas that are somewhat separate, both visually and physically, from the rest of the showroom without being cut off completely.
Jewelers who do have bridal enclaves, salons or dedicated case space say it’s not just about how it looks. Customers enjoy comfortable seating, a measure of privacy and the overall experience. Whitney Lang of Burkes Fine Jewelers in Kilmarnock, VA, is in the process of renovating the back of the store to create a concealed custom and bridal client lounge area so private it will have a completely separate entrance.
Here is a look at a variety of existing bridal rooms, boutiques and enclaves, with a focus on privacy, hospitality and experience, but, sadly, no monkeys. Not yet.
Interactive Kiosks Entice Millennials
LEITZEL’S JEWELRY ON CHOCOLATE, HERSHEY, PA
Allison Leitzel Williams, third generation jeweler at Leitzel’s Jewelry, recently opened a second location, Leitzel’s Jewelry on Chocolate, in Hershey, PA, in a former bank building. They worked with a custom showcase designer from Grice Showcase to create an intimate bridal enclave. “We actually have custom display cases that allow us to have a private viewing area without completely segregating the area from the rest of the store,” she says. An interactive kiosk created by Naledi has been a great way to start the engagement ring process in a relaxed presentation, she says. Clients, especially millennials, enjoy browsing independently for rings, which are accessible on a pulley system, while they are able to view corresponding pricing information on an iPad. The statement-making elevated showcases at the front of the platform feature diamond fashion jewelry and custom wedding bands by Lashbrook. “These showcases also serve the purpose of creating a more private and intimate atmosphere for engagement ring shopping,” she says.
Creating A Destination
MOLINELLI’S, POCATELLO, ID
Molinelli’s focus is to be the destination for all things bridal. A $1.1 million renovation in 2014 expanded the store from 2000 to 5500 square feet and tripled the linear case space. The design for the remodel centered around a semi-private bridal / diamond room, which has more than a thousand styles. “Encouraging comments from other jewelers and reps who travel the country make us feel we’ve hit the mark,” says Lance Buttars. In addition to the space, Buttars promotes the wedding business with a booklet called The Bridal Package, which includes thousands of dollars in offers from a variety of collaborative merchants and service providers in the local wedding arena. It’s all paying off. Since Lance and Julie Buttars bought the business in 2015, gross sales have soared from $600,000 to well over $2 million.
Design Your Own Rings
MICHAEL & SON’S JEWELRY COMPANY, RENO, NV
At Michael & Son’s Jewelry Company, Erica Tague says she is able to create a personal experience within a 4,800 square-foot downtown store. When she and her family opened the new store last year, one goal was to have one of the largest bridal selections in the market. To facilitate that goal, the bridal area is equipped with a 7-foot-wide, sit-down showcase that houses 750 semi-mounts, 300 prototypes and 350 men’s wedding bands in a variety of metal types. Within the bridal area, there’s also a design bar with seating and a large TV screen guests can use to design their dream pieces, as well as a beverage bar serving champagne, wine, coffee, etc. The focus on bridal and creating space for selling it in comfort has paid off. “In the old store we’d do one engagement ring a month; now we do two or three a week. If it’s custom, we design it, print it, cast it in-house and set the stones as well.” Their goal is to be a $5 million store, and this year they hit $3.5 million in revenues. Other elements of the experience include a gift of champagne, a wedding planner guide and ring holder. They also give away free titanium wedding bands to grooms to promote their wedding band business at bridal expos and to encourage engagement ring shoppers to return. That pays off, too. About 80 to 90 percent of grooms upgrade the band from the free item when they come in; the bride-to-be often shops for wedding bands at the same time her groom is choosing his.
Just Around The Corner
SOFIA KAMAN FINE JEWELS, VENICE, CA
Sofia Kaman created a bridal boutique and sit-down consultation space within her 1,000-square-foot store. It’s tucked off to the side in a spot that was closed off and used as a dressing room by the previous tenant of the space. It’s inviting, elegant and comfortable and just around the corner from the entry to the main sales floor. Kaman helps create an experience for her customers by collaborating with a bridal boutique, photographers, event planners and florists in her neighborhood for events and cross-promotion. “Seemingly simple things have really enabled us to grow,” Kaman says.
Find Your Fresh Diamonds Here
ELIZABETH DIAMOND CO., DAYTON, OH
At Elizabeth Diamond Co., there’s a large circular section for loose diamonds adorned with an impressive chandelier and surrounded by cases with branded settings and comfortable seating. Finding room for bridal is an important piece of the Elizabeth Diamond retail puzzle. The bridal sections occupy about a quarter of the store. “It’s kind of like the Waffle House,” says Stephanie Weber. “We go through diamonds like they go through eggs, and we both keep them fresh and current. We have lots and lots of settings.”
Thinking Inside The Box
DIAMONDS DIRECT FINE JEWELERS, ST. PETERSBURG, FL
The VIP Red Box Room at Diamonds Direct Fine Jewelers has privacy and cachet to spare, with a private entrance for high-profile clients. The room is modeled after the store’s DD Red Box Collection. Each box is monochromatic dark red, and, when opened, reveals ivory padding and a gold logo. The VIP room is entirely red except for the table with jewelry—padded ivory like the inside jewelry pad of the box. The ceiling is painted ivory with the logo in gold like the top satin of the box. The room is also equipped with smart TVs. Each purchase made in this showroom comes in the DD Red Box Collection.
Setting Them at Ease
ZADOK JEWELERS, HOUSTON, TX
The bridal salon at Zadok Jewelers features pieces from more than 20 engagement and wedding ring designers, including Tacori, Henri Daussi, and J.B. Star, as well as one of the largest selections of loose diamonds in Texas, says Lindsey Bowen, marketing team member. It’s styled like a boutique, offering a more intimate feel amid an expansive store. Above all, the goal of the space and its staff is to set the customer at ease. They are offered refreshments — water, coffee and soft drinks or wine. The store staff can customize any ring and meet any customer need in budget or size while offering a positive, unique experience, Bowen says.
A Reason to Celebrate
ACE OF DIAMONDS, MOUNT PLEASANT, MI
At Ace of Diamonds, Mike and Kris Roethlisberger have a room that’s a bit more private than the rest of the store, where they show their loose diamonds, wedding bands and engagement rings. They call it the Celebrations Room. It keeps unwelcome surprises to a minimum. “You just never know who else will come in the store while a guy is thinking about taking that next big step,” Mike says. “Over the years, we’ve had to secretly get someone out of the store because a friend or relative came in at the same time, unknowingly.”
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