INSTOREMAG.COM - News and advice for the American jewelry store owner Tue, 13 Oct 2015 13:27:49 +0000 Joomla! - Open Source Content Management en-gb Top Experiences That Should Be on Every Jeweler’s Bucket List

Eileen McClelland

editor at
INSTORE Magazine.


few months ago, we asked INSTORE’s Brain Squad to share the top experiences that should be on every jeweler’s bucket list.

The overriding theme in nearly all of the suggestions is to be sure you take time now to do at least some of the things on your list. Don’t wait for retirement, which you keep putting off anyway.

“Do anything that gets your adrenaline flowing and gives you joy,” says Denise Oros of Linnea Jewelers in La Grange, IL. “Learn something new as often as possible. Travel more. Be a tourist even if it is just in your own city. Hike, run, bike, fly, boat. Just go, get out, do! Live longer, love harder and laugh more. Regrets not allowed. That should be on everyone's Bucket List.”

While the whole story will be published in December, here are a few top suggestions:

  1. Set a goal. Seek to sell big diamonds – over 5 or 10 carats, for example.

  2. Take some time off – soon! Take Christmas week off. Or take weekends off for a while, just to see how the other half lives. Or take a six month sabbatical.

  3. Have an adventure: Drive across the United States. Hike Half Dome in Yosemite. Go on a night dive. Take a cruise. Rent an apartment in Manhattan for a month. Get a pilot’s license. See one of the Wonders of the World.

  4. Take a jewelry-related trip. Visit the Gem Gallery of the Smithsonian in Washington, DC. Visit the Hong Kong jewelry show. Visit a gem mine. See how a diamond is cut in person. Join a buying group. Stay longer than you need to at the Tucson gem shows and take time to explore. Take GIA courses.

  5. Take your business to the next level. Remodel your store. Spend some time learning jewelry design and/or working on the bench. Enter INSTORE’s America’s Coolest Stores contest.



blog comments powered by Disqus]]> (Eileen McClelland) Best Practices Tue, 13 Oct 2015 00:00:00 +0000
Need a Holiday Gift For Your Best Clients? Pick Up "If These Jewels Could Talk"


of INDESIGN Magazine and Contributing Editor of INSTORE.

he’s done it again, and it may be her best yet.  My former colleague and prolific author, editor and designer Beth Bernstein, who authored My Charmed Life in 2012 and Jewelry’s Shining Stars in 2013, is releasing what I think could be her most popular book to date: If These Jewels Could Talk

The hardcover book, which will begin shipping through most online retail outlets in November (list price $95, but currently discounted to $62.88 on, tells the stories behind some of the most famous celebrity jewelry in history.  From Elizabeth Taylor’s Van Cleef & Arpels pavé diamond heart received as a make-up gift from Richard Burton, to Grace Kelly’s emerald-cut Cartier engagement ring, to the famous jewels worn on-screen in films like Titanic and The Great Gatsby (Cartier for the first film in 1974 and Tiffany & Co. for the 2013 remake), Beth writes about the jewelry that has captivated fans and provided designers with inspiration for trends down the decades.  The book features 300 color illustrations and will be a must-own keepsake for every jewelophile.

“Throughout the 20th century, the world’s most fabulous jewels have held tremendous sentimental and symbolic value, as they are linked to the most significant moments and memories of Hollywood ‘royalty,’ aristocracy and international icons of style,” says Beth.  “If These Jewels Could Talk offers a glimpse into the jewelry boxes of these celebrities – the personal tastes, heartfelt anecdotes and the true tales of the women who wore and collected the pieces, providing privileged insight into the worlds they inhabited.”

No one understands and appreciates the lore and influence of historical jewelry better than Beth Bernstein.  And not many authors were also once jewelry designers themselves, which gives Beth a unique insight into pieces that most critics could appreciate only as fans.  This book would make a fantastic parting gift for your best clients this holiday season, either after a large purchase or at your annual Ladies’ Night (and would also go nicely on the coffee table in your store lounge).  If you’re smart, you’ll pre-order a copy today!


blog comments powered by Disqus]]> (Trace Shelton) Customer Service Tue, 13 Oct 2015 00:00:00 +0000
Two for One: Double Diamond Engagement Rings
Tanya Dukes

Senior editor, INSTORE and INDESIGN.

henever I get the chance, I ask jewelry retailers (in jest), whether halo engagement rings are finished, and which styles are gaining ground in their wake. The answer to the first question is always an emphatic “no way.” I get it, I get it: They’re still a bread and butter favorite that no one wants to see disappear.

As for the second question, I’m going to step out on a limb to nominate two-stone engagement rings as a contender that’s gaining in appeal. Beyond the obvious symbolism behind wearing an engagement ring with two central diamonds, the styles deliver the sparkle and generous size—even with two smaller stones—that contribute to the popularity of the halo.

Rings featuring dual diamonds or colored gemstones have made appearances in some of history’s most storied romances. Napoleon gave Josephine a sapphire and diamond “moi et toi” ring in 1796, and John F. Kennedy and Jacqueline Kennedy marked their engagement with an emerald and diamond ring. As for the present day, at least one manufacturer—GemsOne—has already gotten behind the style. It just launched Twogether: When One plus One Equals Us, a branded collection of engagement rings that features dozens of two-stone styles in weights from 0.25 TCW to 2.00 TCW.

And even designers and brands that haven’t doubled down on the style, seem to gravitate to the flexibility that two-stone styles allow. There’s the chance to mix and match gemstones, place them in any number of positions in relation to each other, and—if they’re really committed to the idea—throw in a halo too.

See more of our finds at VicenzaOro (and beyond) on Instagram: @instoremagazine @indesignmagazine and @tanyadukes

GemsOne Twogether: When One plus One Equals Us engagement ring in white gold

Megan Thorne Wood Nymph Double Sprig ring in 18K yellow gold with pear diamond and European-cut diamond

Yasuko Azuma 18K gold and grey diamond ring, MSRP: $3,280

Rebecca Overmann 14K gold and double diamond ring, MSRP: $3,615

Kwiat 18K white gold and diamond ring, MSRP: $9,000

Bario Neal rose gold and diamond ring, MSRP: from $2,380

WWAKE 14K gold and diamond ring, MSRP: $1,334

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

blog comments powered by Disqus]]> (Tanya Dukes) Designers/Jewelry Fri, 09 Oct 2015 00:00:00 +0000
The Jeweler: Jeweler's Tan

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

blog comments powered by Disqus]]> (Tim Searfoss) Guest Blogs Thu, 08 Oct 2015 00:00:00 +0000
Toby Keith's Christmas Rock Click the image (or click here) to download the desktop pattern.

{igallery id=1610|cid=1525|pid=6|type=category|children=0|addlinks=0|tags=|limit=0}]]> (David Squires) Jewelry Lyrics Thu, 08 Oct 2015 00:00:00 +0000 From Spring 2016 Paris Runway, “Antique Silver” Blooms

Lorraine DePasque

Contributing writer for INSTORE and INDESIGN.

n Paris this week, one of the most raved-about new fashion collections came from Alexander McQueen. And particularly notable on its Spring 2016 runway? The piling on of what’s being referred to as “antique silver jewelry.” Well, we call the pieces “oxidized.” Sarah Burton, the clothing brand’s designer—a favorite of the Duchess of Cambridge--seemed to love long necklaces, chandeliers, and shoulder-dusters especially, and always in grayed oxidation, as opposed to blackened.

Up till now and for some time, black silver has, for our industry, been more fashion-forward than gray sterling. So, it seems to me that the most affordable of precious metals is, of late, taking a slight color shift--at least for awhile. Last week, at Jewelers of America’s Annual Fine Jewelry Press Preview in New York, I saw some interesting new oxidized sterling designs--Silver Promotion Service was one of the event sponsors. What I noticed, too, while reviewing collections, were many silver pieces with pearls and mother-of-pearl--like a lot of sterling jewelry on the McQueen catwalk.

Oxidized sterling silver-with-pearls often tends toward the romantic—a somewhat “softened” style that we can expect more of in 2016. Not ironically, just hours before Wednesday’s JA jewelry  presentation, I was at a small gathering of fashion press with trend forecaster, David Wolfe of Doneger Creative Services, who emphatically told us, “Going into Fall/Winter next year, we’ll see many antique effects in clothing: jacquards, brocades, and tapestries.”

It makes sense--last month, ready-to-wear’s London Fashion Week, too, was much about Victoriana, nods to history, and embellishment. Dreamy collections. So . . . yes, a lot of my jewelry dreams these days aren’t in color or black-and-white but, instead, in a calming, oxidized silver hue. Nice—very nice.

{igallery id=2120|cid=1526|pid=1|type=category|children=0|addlinks=0|tags=|limit=0}



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

blog comments powered by Disqus]]> (Lorraine DePasque) Designers/Jewelry Wed, 07 Oct 2015 00:00:00 +0000
Dos and Don'ts of Employee Motivation

Eileen McClelland

editor at
INSTORE Magazine.


dozen employees of a Chinese cosmetics company were ordered to “belly-crawl,” around a 23-acre lagoon during a national holiday last week because they failed to meet their sales goals, The reports. At least one employee was seen crying by the side of the road during the ordeal, which was photographed by curious passersby.

We can probably all agree that’s an extreme and obvious DON’T when it comes to employee motivation, right?

What are some other, less extreme DON’TS?

  1. Micromanaging. (It leads to a feeling of uselessness.)
  2. Focusing on mistakes. If something goes wrong, consider what to do next.
  3. Dismissing ideas. Let your employees have a voice in making decisions.
  4. Not keeping your word or making empty promises.
  5. Holding useless meetings.

And 3 important DO’S:

Take a genuine interest in your employee’s career path by mentoring, coaching and training. Continuing education says to employees: “I value you and want to invest in you.”

Consider your staff’s work-life balance. The staff at Kelly Mitchell Fine Jewelry in suburban Dallas all have children at home. But flexibility makes it work. “We talk a lot about how we will back up someone,” Mitchell explains. “I try not to have such a strict ruling that someone has to do something hour-wise. You try to run your business on a real-life basis.”

Offer positive feedback. Brian McCall of Midwest Jewelers and Estate Buyers in Zionsville, IN, says nothing is more effective than looking someone in the eye and telling them what a great job they are doing and how important they are.



blog comments powered by Disqus]]> (Eileen McClelland) Best Practices Tue, 06 Oct 2015 00:00:00 +0000
Meet Your Newest Customers: Generation Z

of INDESIGN Magazine and Contributing Editor of INSTORE.

f you’ve started to suffer from MHO (Millennial Hype Overload), rest easy: Generation Z is coming.  OK, so the oldest are just 19 years of age, but marketers are already beginning to try to break down and classify this cohort that will outnumber its older Millennial siblings by about one million.  As this generation comes of age, how will their jewelry buying habits differ?

While there’s no definitive answer since they haven’t reached jewelry buying age yet, there are clues that can help jewelers begin thinking about how to reach future Generation Z buyers.  They will be like the Millennials in their technological savvy – most will not remember a time before social media, and their attention span is here one second and gone the next.  But one major difference is that where Millennials hang their dirty laundry out on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter for the world to see, Generation Z is much more privacy-conscious, preferring media like Snapchat, Secret and Whisper, where anything incriminating disappears after a short amount of time.  They’ve seen the price their elder brothers and sisters have paid for their hubris, and they’ve learned from it.

This caution will extend to other decisions as well.  Just as Millennials echoed their Baby Boomer parents’ larger-than-life characteristics, Generation Z will take after their Generation X parents’ safety-conscious, jaded outlook.  They’ve grown up in a post-9/11 world that’s undergone recessions and a growing sense of political discord.  As a result, Generation Z will place great importance on being “mature and in control,” according to a Sparks & Honey trend report. 

The New York Times recently asserted that Generation Z’s sense of privacy, caution and sensible careers reminds some of the Silent Generation who were shaped by the Great Depression and World War 2.  That generation was incredibly career-oriented, and was also one of the richest generations in history.

If that does indeed hold true of Generation Z, jewelry retailers will do well to emphasize security and safety in their presentations, emphasizing warranties, reliability and trustworthiness.  They will be extraordinarily discreet and will prioritize value as much as flash.  Certainly, the kids of Generation Z enjoy having fun as much as the next person, but they prefer to do so while maintaining their privacy and sense of well-being.

For more details on Generation Z, check out this New York Times article here.



blog comments powered by Disqus]]> (Trace Shelton) Customer Service Mon, 05 Oct 2015 00:00:00 +0000
You Should Know: Aonie
Tanya Dukes

Senior editor, INSTORE and INDESIGN.

f the French are known for their je ne sais quoi, Italians have sprezzatura—offhanded elegance and charm—in spades. That’s the quality that comes to mind as soon as you meet—and see the jewelry from—Paola and Consuelo Coti, the sisters behind Milan-based label Aonie. The pair’s collection of accessibly priced pieces in gold-plated silver is refined and informal, with whimsical references to literature and art. Not coincidentally, the brand’s name is an Italian word for the nine mythological muses that represent inspiration in creative disciplines including poetry and music.

The label first launched in 2008, and the Cotis’ earliest pieces borrowed bold, sculptural shapes from the aesthetic traditions of faraway destinations like India and Africa. Their more recent jewelry has come from inspiration found closer to home. When their hunt for new materials led them to a trove of vintage German ceramic pieces embellished with floral patterns, the sisters used them in delicate rings, bracelets and earrings. Placing the 70-year-old material into very current silhouettes like open cuff bangles gives the designs a timeless quality. Characters from favorite children’s stories—Alice in Wonderland, The Little Prince, The Wizard of Oz—show up as figures on charms that dangle from pendants and earrings, but the effect isn’t juvenile. Instead, adding the playful elements to sophisticated, classic shapes is unexpected, enchanting and carefree. Pile them on for instant sprezzatura.

See more of our finds at VicenzaOro (and beyond) on Instagram: @instoremagazine @indesignmagazine and @tanyadukes

Gold-plated silver bangle with vintage 1940s ceramics, MSRP: $161

Crescent gold plated earrings with onyx drops

Alice in Wonderland gold-plated pendant, MSRP: $260

Silver and gold-plate ring, MSRP: $200

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

blog comments powered by Disqus]]> (Tanya Dukes) Designers/Jewelry Fri, 02 Oct 2015 00:00:00 +0000
Afraid Not to Discount? Try this Little Experiment…
David Brown

President of Edge Retail Academy

ugust provided a strong increase in sales across our database of stores compared to the equivalent month in 2014. Sales were up over 20 percent for the month with average total store sales at $127,255 compared to $105,769 for last year. This increases the rolling 12-month sales figure to $1,592,699 from $1,576,123, an increase of 1.05 percent from last month. Annualized this would provide growth of 12.6 percent should it continue.

The trend has continued for the last three years, with sales increasing from $93,458 in August 2013, to $122,345 in August this year, a gain of 30 percent in total. As the numbers above show, total monthly sales units increased from 302 to 356 but dropped back slightly in 2015. 2014 growth came from more items at a lower average sale. 2015 growth has seen slightly lower sales again but a very strong increase in average sale. The current average retail sale value of $317 is an increase of 8 percent on 2013 levels.

Of concern is the drop in gross profit as a percentage (margin) with the average margin of 49 percent dropping in 2013 down to 45 percent. If margins had been maintained at 49 percent, gross profit achieved would have been just on $60,000, or $4,500, (almost 10 percent) more profit than was actually achieved.

As this chart shows, gross profit is growing  well and has continued its upward trend for the year, however it’s not a level of growth that matches the sales increase.

Protecting margin is a double-edge sword and must be tackled on two fronts. Losing margin happens either because the amount of markup being applied to product has been reduced or the amount of discount being given away at the counter has increased. Where a store has achieved a certain level of margin in the past then it is unlikely that there is a conscious decision to reduce margin – this leaves an increase in discount as the main culprit for narrowing margin.

So why has discounting increased? It will generally be caused by a change in a variable. The main variables are:

A change in the amount of discount being sought by customers
A change in the amount of discount being offered by the salesperson

How do you tell which it is? The best way to determine if it is salesperson-related is to compare your salesperson reports. Has the staff changed? If the staff is the same as before, are they offering larger discounts than they did previously? If the staff has changed, how does the discount compare between staff members? If associates are achieving a similar level of average sale, and they have sold enough items during the year to take out the margin of error, then you would expect to see a similar markup. If most staff are similar in markup but there is someone who is outside the margin of error for achieved margin then you may have a problem with one staff member giving too much away.

If there is consistent discount being achieved across all staff and the margins don’t vary by any great degree then there is another factor that is affecting things. They may be getting greater pressure from customers to offer a reduced price.  If so, then what is your policy on this and how have you trained your staff to deal with customer discount requests? If you havent trained them, then there will be no consistency in how they respond and this may cause customer confusion in terms of their expectations.

If you are looking to set a discount policy then Step 1 needs to be learning to say No. Before you gasp with shock, I would recommend you try it. Let’s start simply by setting the policy for the day that for any customer purchasing an item under $200 the answer to a request for a discount is No.
Now you don’t put it like that, an appropriately worded reply is required, but offer no discount on items under $200 for a day and then discuss the response the following day with staff. How many customers walked out? Chances are the number will be fewer than you think. How much extra profit did you make on the buyers who accepted the “no” versus what you lost in profit from the sales?
Again, compare these variables. You might be pleasantly surprised to find the profit gained by not discounting more than offsets the amount lost from customers who walked. Experiment with smaller sales for a day or two then depending on the results look at rolling out a policy across the store on larger items.
It takes a lot of extra sales to make up for every percentage in lost margin. The proof will be in the results, so be willing to experiment. The results may be a pleasant surprise.


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blog comments powered by Disqus]]> (David Brown) Money Matters Thu, 01 Oct 2015 00:00:00 +0000