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7 Jewelers Share Their Fun Approaches to Dressing for the Holiday

In touch with their inner elves, jewelers dress the part for fun and profit.

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This story was originally published in the October 2017 edition of INSTORE.

HOLIDAY OUTFITS appeal to some jewelry retailers and appall others, who consider them a slippery slope toward total tackiness.

To Jennifer Farnes of Revolution Jewelry Works in Colorado Springs, CO, dressing up is just not worth the effort: “Too busy to worry about that! Take a shower, wear clean clothes, survive Christmas,” she says. But Nicole Shannon of Keir Fine Jewelry in Whistler, British Columbia, says wearing tacky Christmas sweaters from a shop next door actually saves time, since staff members can grab sweaters from a communal bin on the run, rather than worry about their wardrobes.

Others swear by a show-off-the-jewels approach. “I encourage my staff to wear our jewelry during the holiday season,” says Marc Majors of Samuel L. Majors Fifth Generation Jewelers in Midland, TX. “It’s much more personal when it’s on someone and not a prop, and 99 percent of the time it closes the sale.”

Read on for a range of wardrobe ideas intended to break the ice with customers and bolster staff morale.


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Let the Tipsy Elves Break the Ice
Goldsmith Gallery Jewelers, Billings, MT

Edgy holiday-themed suits purchased from a company called Tipsy Elves make a statement on December Saturdays at Scott and Kelly Wickam’s store. “It actually made for a great selling day last year,” Scott,  at left, says. “It showed that we are not just stuffy jewelers trying to sell you something. We love what we do and we have fun doing it.” The suits cost $80 to $100 each. “For the money, they fit nice and look great,” he says.


The Tie Guy
Goodman’s Jewelers, Madison, WI

For John Hayes of Goodman’s Jewelers in Madison, WI, it’s all about the ties. “I have a collection of holiday ties and wear a different one each day from Thanksgiving to Jan. 1. I always start with Charlie Brown and the Great Pumpkin.” He has 38 and counting, although some have fallen apart after 25 years of collecting.


The Sweater Fest
Miller’s Jewelry, Bozeman, MT

Jennifer Hornik Johnson says the whole staff at Miller’s participates in the annual Ugly Sweater Party in December. The store offers a 10 percent discount to any customers brave enough to wear their own ugly items to the event.


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Don’t Be Afraid to Live in the Past
Cornerstone Jewelry & Engraving, Palos Park, IL

At Cornerstone Jewelry & Engraving, owner Bryan Blaha and team believe “Old Jewelers Have Old Souls.” To enhance their theme, they ramp up their sartorial savvy for the holiday season with bow ties, vests, hairstyles and facial hair that evoke the early 20th century. “We tend to dress to the ‘9s,” says manager Ryan C. Karp. “Like the 1909s.” It leaves a lasting impression on clients, together with incense, old-school holiday music, classic decor and demonstrations.


Make a Statement With the LBD
K Hollis Jewelers, Batavia, IL

Black is never basic at K Hollis Jewelers, where Karen Hollis, center, and her staff feel confident wearing their little black dresses for holiday events. “It shows a level of class that makes my staff get noticed,” Hollis says. “Jewelry really stands out on black, and it’s fun to wear a bigger diamond or more expensive items for holiday parties.”


Family Morphs Into Elves!
Perry’s Emporium, Wilmington, NC

“I made my sons dress up in elf outfits for an after-Christmas ad on TV,” says owner Alan Perry. In the commercial, Perry says he’s leaving the store till next year. His sons say, “We’ll show him! Come in now and get up to 50 percent off until Jan. 15!” Perry admits he had to pay his sons to be elves, though.


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If You Are the Designated Elf, Be a Good Sport
Talisman Collection, El Dorado Hills, CA

Owner Andrea Riso isn’t above dressing up. “I look like a super giant idiot as an elf, but I’m a good sport about it because it makes sales spike and it’s fun.” Sales associate Becca Souders, pictured, picked up the elf outfits at Fredericks of Hollywood. “It worked, sales and morale-wise,” Riso says.

Eileen McClelland is the Managing Editor of INSTORE. She believes that every jewelry store has the power of cool within them.

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Jewelry Stores Make First Impressions Memorable

Retailers employ doors, signs, seating and clocks to make entryways unforgettable.

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ENTRYWAYS, FACADES, SIGNS, seating and architectural touches go a long way to extending an invitation to the shopper. What do your potential customers see when they approach your business?

Window on the World

Jewelry designer John Atencio’s latest location, the Park Meadows Mall in Lone Tree, CO, breaks out of the mall mold with an all-glass facade. Oversize panes of tempered glass wrap from floor to ceiling across the entire storefront. Because the mall itself is flooded with natural light, the Colorado sun illuminates the store as well. Inside, at the front glass, six tall light boxes have rotating dividers that create 12 jewelry showcases, half facing inside and half facing outside, which can be rotated throughout the day. Outside, they also installed two large liquid billboards using high definition TVs that rotate, allowing them to feature new designs or promotional events. The exterior backlit John Atencio sign centers and frames the glass facade. Using LED technology, they were able to intensify the brightness of the sign, making it 10 times brighter than previous signs they’ve had.

Montana Modern

At Stephen Isley Jewelry in Whitefish, MT, owners Stephen Isley and Cindy Just say that if they had a dollar for every time someone walked into the shop and said, “I love your door!” they wouldn’t have to sell jewelry anymore. The Montana-made custom piece — an arched, wooden door with a curved window and stone entryway — attracts a stream of people asking, “Can I take a photo of your door?” It meshes with the interior ambience, too. Moody gray walls and a treasure trove of jewelry, local art and antiquities, offer a relaxed Montana feel with a modern edge.

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It’s All in the Details

At Northeastern Fine Jewelry in Albany, NY, a glass facade offers a transparency that puts shoppers at ease. The window reveals the character of the store within, says architect Michael Roman of C2 Design Group. Roman and Gregg Kelly, vice president of Northeastern, created a casual patio setting in front that offers a decompression zone between parking lot and shopping experience. “I always kept the consumer in mind,” Kelly says. “Even things like how they experience walking through the parking lot, the pitch of the sidewalk, and the feel they get when they step out of their car. We researched how to get the right thing — from handicapped signs that weren’t run of the mill, to the garbage can, to the outside rugs, to the extension of the awning over the front door to give them enough space for their umbrella.”

A Neighborhood Landmark

At Wanna Buy A Watch in West Hollywood, CA, owner Kenneth Jacobs revels in the quirky, which begins out front with three memorable features. No. 1, there’s the name on the sign. No. 2, they adopted the RCA dog Nipper as their mascot when Jacobs purchased a 36-inch tall version. Placed outside to announce the store was open, Nipper became both watch dog and logo. Nipper was promoted to spokesmodel and featured in a series of amusing vinyl banners they rotate seasonally in front of their store. No. 3, a vintage, double-faced Gruen neon clock has graced Jacobs’ storefronts for more than 25 years, announcing the time to westbound and eastbound pedestrian and vehicular traffic. “No one has to remember our address; they just look for our clock,” Jacobs says.

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Heralding a Hangout

When Gary Spivak and his son, Josh Spivak, became partners and conceived their store At Spivak Jewelers in Cherry Hill, NJ, their goal was to make everyone comfortable. Why not start outside, they thought, and outfitted their front patio area with comfortable furniture. “We built our whole store to be like a lounge, like you’re walking into someone’s home, a place where people can hang out,” says Josh. “People love it. Our clients often bring their friends to experience Spivak jewelers.”

Florida Finesse

At the Village Jeweler of Gainesville, owned by Cynthia and Mike Thibault, multiple natural elements are incorporated into the bright and inviting entry way and exterior. Stacked stone with travertine tile accents, a 24K gold leaf sign and a brass inlay in the vestibule combine for a high-end custom look while evoking the feeling of a courtyard or piazza.

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Pedestrian Pull

Large prominent windows filled with tempting displays, sandwich board signage, and a popular coffee shop conveniently next door all combine to draw constant attention from passersby to this jewelry boutique in the historic Hamilton Building in downtown Portland, OR, owned by David and Ronnie Malka. “We are next door to the best coffee shop in town, Barista coffee, which we love to treat our customers to some fine coffee while pursuing fine jewelry,” Ronnie says.

Coastal Casual

If you’re on a dreamy island like Sanibel Island, FL, it’s natural to have a tropical-paradise ambience, right from the beginning. Owners Dan Schuyler and Karen Bell have outfitted their entryway with pastel-hued Adirondack chairs and plenty of tropical foliage. Of course, there is also a palm tree. There’s definitely a “welcome to our tropical home” vibe at the store, which also boasts a Sea Life Collection of jewelry.

Adopting a Sign

Longtime Maysville, KY, residents know that EAT Gallery (Exquisite Art Treasures) was long the home of the town’s Morgan’s Diner. EAT Gallery owners Simon and Laurie Watt kept the memorable neon EAT sign that has hung on the building for 60 years. It was refurbished to help preserve the history of downtown and was the inspiration for the gallery’s name. And yes, every once in a while a newcomer WILL stop by looking for lunch.

Attention to Detail

Park City Jewelers owners Ken Whipple, his son Cole Whipple and Cole’s wife, Shauna Whipple, own their own building on Main Street in Park City, UT. The entire exterior has a timeless, custom, hand-crafted look to it along with a sense of permanence. Once over the threshold, visitors are greeted by a 10-foot arch formed by a pair of amethyst geodes. The exterior speaks to the quality of the jewelry itself and the lifetime guarantee behind it.

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These Jewelry Stores Extend the Design Concept Into the Restroom

When designing your store, give the loo some love.

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IN TERMS OF interior design, the oft-ignored restroom should be an integral part of the whole jewelry store, says interior designer Leslie McGwire. “A stylish, well-decorated bathroom can make a big statement to clients and employees,” she says. So, resist the urge to think out of sight, out of mind, and pamper your powder room.

A Grand Design

At Tanmai in Irving, TX, owned by Sanjay and Sapna Singhania, the store’s elegant theme extends seamlessly into the restroom with gold and bronze finishes, interesting wallpaper, wall-sconce lighting fixtures, sleek fixtures and patterned-tile flooring. They were inspired, in part, by architecture and design in Las Vegas.

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Photo Credit: Brent Cicogna

Inspiration From Above

Wanna Buy a Watch in West Hollywood, CA, designed by interior designer June Robinson Scott, carries its offbeat quirkiness into its restroom with red walls, framed prints, and a chandelier, creating a romantic, vintage effect. Says owner Ken Jacobs: “We went all out with a bright red, boudoir-style bathroom, inspired by a crystal chandelier left by the prior tenant that we had intended to discard.”

Attention to Detail

The $1.3 million renovation of Northeastern Fine Jewelry in Albany, NY, implemented by Michael Roman of C2 Design Group in 2017, did not neglect any detail of the retail experience. “Our store has a bathroom that can only be described as the Wynn Hotel in Albany, NY,” says Northeastern VP Gregg Kelly, who came up with the concept for the building project based on extensive research into experiential design. “The finishes throughout the store were selected to present a sleek and timeless look,” Roman says. “The upscale aesthetic extends into the restroom with high-end finishes and cool lighting.”

Right at Home

The comfortable, residential feel of Fakier Jewelers in Houma, LA, continues into the restroom where windows are dressed with plantation shutters and floor-to-ceiling draperies. There are also sophisticated, furniture-style fixtures and fun, fluffy seating. Owner Manon Fakier designed the store, which opened in 2017, with the help of the French Mix by Jennifer Dicerbo Interiors in Covington, LA.

Paint Steals the Show

At Clarkes Jewelers in Shreveport, LA, colorful walls and flattering lighting brighten shoppers’ experience.

Eye-Catching Tile

At Coughlin Jewelers in St. Clair, MI, attention to detail pays off, with art on the walls, patterned tiles and even a plant. Consider adding a live plant to the restroom, suggests interior designer Ruth Mellergaard of Grid 3 International, because it emits oxygen and is a natural air freshener.

Stunner of A Sink

The Jewelry Design Center in Spokane, WA, uses a bold sink, interesting textures, a decorative mirror, and the drama of wall sconce lighting to make a design statement.

Sleek and Seamless

At John Atencio’s Boulder, CO, location, the sleek interior design complements the rest of the store’s interior and reflects the jewelry designer’s modern aesthetic.

Upgrades All Around

At Kelley Jewelers in Weatherford, OK, designer Leslie McGwire of Leslie McGwire & Associates chose a white brick that went from floor to ceiling on the wall behind the sink and toilet. The sidewalls are a large-scaled tile also going from the floor up to the ceiling. An added detail is the 1-inch by 4-inch glass tiles that create a stripe down the walls. The gold bar lights match the gold faucet. The square sink with the durable high-end counter is a nice detail for the design. The highly patterned porcelain adds an extra design splash to the bathroom.

Residential Touches

At Sather’s Leading Jewelers in Fort Collins, CO, a gold mirror, colorful artwork and an interesting backsplash design creates an elegant atmosphere, while two sinks turn it into a family affair.

Simply Streamlined

The Diamond Center in Janesville, WI, designed by Leslie McGwire, has elements of black, gray and white tones with a very contemporary feel. The bathroom is no different. The very large porcelain tiles on the floor wrap up the walls to about 42 inches high. The streamlined black granite counter with a contemporary faucet beautifully complements the brushed silver horizontal mirror. The artwork on the walls is fashioned from metal straps to add to the contemporary design feel.

Mens overall bathroom view 

Womens bathroom

His and Hers

The bathrooms at Williams Jewelers in Englewood, CO are very unique. For the women’s bathroom designer Leslie McGwire used a white porcelain tile that had a 1-carat Swarovski diamond-shaped crystals in the tile, making the entire wall sparkle. The flush-mounted crystal light fixture and the sconces on either side of the mirror all work together to create a “wow” effect. The men’s room design, in contrast, is very masculine. The porcelain wood floor goes up to half of the wall with a decorative tile
boarder. The tone of the highly textured large mirror complements the color palette in the room. The scones coordinate with the overall design.

Understated Elegance

YLANG YLANG in St. Louis employs a chandelier and gold fixtures to add elegance and glamour, while the flooring adds a modern touch.

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Stores Create Displays That Are Made To Be Touched

Make some merchandise accessible.

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IN MOST JEWELRY STORES, there’s not much that shoppers can touch without asking. But these jewelers allow customers the freedom to hold and try on pieces to their heart’s content.

Mixed Media

At Balefire Goods in Arvada, CO, owner Jamie Hollier uses blocks of wood atop a glass shelf to create an intriguing textural contrast while providing a simple, organic base for sculptural, artisan-made jewelry. Wood, metal and concrete furniture and fixtures soften an industrial aesthetic, while creating a neutral backdrop where jewelry and art become the focus.

An Heirloom Look

At H1912 in Princeton, NJ, an offspring of Hamilton Jewelers, watch bands are cleverly displayed in a vintage printers tray (discovered at a garage sale) and on bulletin boards. Rustic displays and period furniture reflect the store’s focus on heirloom jewelry and one-of-a-kind finds. “We recently started putting additional accessories up on bulletin boards in our store, but we only feature very few straps on the board because it’s important clients can touch and feel the different materials of the watch straps and be able to hold them against their watches on their wrist,” says store director Lea D’Onofrio.

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A Study in Contrasts

Lindy’s in Fernandina Beach, FL, embraces an eclectic decor in which it seems perfectly natural to hang long, beaded necklaces from deer antlers mounted on an exposed brick wall. The quirky wall display co-exists with elegant elements, including a large mirror propped against a wall and a chandelier. “It’s difficult to display long necklaces (that are so popular right now) in the showcases,” says owner Lindy Kavanaugh. “Our dress forms are another favorite for displaying long necklaces, and we love using the mineral specimens and cool gemstone-related pieces we find in Tucson as it seems to bring it all together with a fancy, but earthy vibe. Kind of like wearing pearls with a sweatshirt!”

Front and Center

At Adornment & Theory in Chicago, an accessories table in the center of the store draws shoppers to try on bracelets and pendants, while staff is prepared to fill them in on the story behind each piece. “People are looking for a personal touch,” says owner Viviana Langhoff. “They want to know if it’s handmade, they want to know about the designer, the story, the fair-trade component, where the stones are coming from. They like knowing the details.”

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