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8 (More) Ways to Go Green in Your Jewelry Store




The little things can make a big difference.

Our November lead story focused on ways jewelers can build sustainable practices and develop reliable supply chains. Such approaches can, after all, help save the planet and set ethical retailers apart.

Here are eight more ways to go green in your jewelry business.


Lighting upgrades are one of the most cost-effective and easiest ways for businesses to save energy and money. The obvious step is to switch to LED lighting. When Karen Benado made the switch, it dramatically reduced energy consumption at Diamonds R Forever in Kennesawy, GA, and saved about $850 per month on the store’s electric bill.

Architect and designer Jesse Balaity of Balaity Property Enhancement recommends illuminating showcases with in-case and ceiling fixtures, but skipping the general lighting along circulation paths. Reducing lighting on the floor areas between showcases helps the jewelry stand out by creating a rhythm of brighter and dimmer spaces throughout the store, and reduces energy consumption for unnecessary lighting.

Each of Jennifer Farnes’ workstations at Revolution Jewelry Works in Colorado Springs, CO, has its own power switch so it’s only on when the jeweler is at the bench.


James Doggett, owner of Doggett Jewelry in Kingston, NH, recycles almost EVERYTHING. “Even my teabags get composted in the small vegetable garden outside,” he says. The AC is turned on only when absolutely necessary; first, windows are opened in search of a breeze. Before the heat is turned on, Doggett and team reach for sweaters. “Newspaper is better than paper towels to clean glass. There are so many ways to save resources.”


At Design Unlimited in Rapid City, SD, chemicals never wind up in drains. And they use only chemicals that can be rendered inert and disposed of with no environmental impact, says Michael Goin.


“All of our packaging is post-consumer recycled and always has been,” says Russell Criswell of Vulcan’s Forge in Kansas City, MO. “Our bags are random patterns of fabric-blotter paper.”


Debbie Klein of Boulder has eliminated most postcard mailings in favor of email invitations and social media. “We have over 5,000 names on our mailing list,” she says, “so that should save a tree or two.” They also recycle and compost everything, which is required by the city of Boulder.

Look for eco-friendly tags, too. Arch Crown offers string tags and earring cards made with a minimum of 30 percent post consumer fiber. Tags are FSC and Green Seal Certified Carbon Neutral Plus, ensuring a reduction in carbon emissions plus a commitment to conserve the environment. 

In response to a drought and watering restrictions in California, Fox Fine Jewelry in Ventura, CA, teamed up with a local radio station to create a “Golden Lawn” contest to spread the word about water conservation. People who brought in a picture of their “golden,” rather than green lawn, were entered into a drawing for a $1,000 shopping spree at Fox, which was given away during an event featuring conservation vendors. Concurrently, Cumulus Radio’s “the Vibe” ran a “Gold is the New Green” contest in which people who posted signs in their yards and post photos on Facebook qualified for prizes.

Debbie Klein of Boulder runs an annual event every year called “Gold Goes Green” with Jeff Feero from Alex Sepkus’ studio. Sepkus uses over 75 percent recycled metal in his work. Klein’s clients can bring in old gold and platinum in exchange for a credit toward a new piece. He can also offer cash for the metal, but they love to trade in old, unworn or broken pieces for something new and shiny. “It’s a very popular event.” Babs Noelle of Alara in Bozeman, MT, has given preference to jewelry designers working in recycled metals since 2009 and has made it a requirement for new designers represented in her store since 2013.



Jill Keith of Enchanted Jewelry in Danielson, CT, and her staff make lunches every day (nothing requires refrigeration or a microwave) and bring water from home in reusable stainless containers. They even got rid of the Dumpster out back and dump their own garbage weekly at the town transfer station.

Jonathan McCoy of McCoy Jewelers in Dubuque, IA, recycles everything possible and casts all designs in recycled metals and repurposed street-purchased gemstones into new inventory. “In addition, we have a large business in restyling old jewelry into next-generation heirlooms,” McCoy says. “Mostly we find that the ‘green’ aspect is a factor but the ‘heirloom’ factor is as strong. Moving something forward from one generation to the next has created a ring with more than just style, but with history to it. This is not just a millennial ‘thing’; we have been doing this for decades for our clients that are in all age groups. All have loved not just the new jewelry, but the story they get to share. The fact that we cast from vendors that supply us with 100 percent certified recycled gold as well as our own efforts in recycling ‘street buys’ into casting grain and not just a check has made a difference in not just our image but our bottom line.”

This story is an INSTORE Online extra.



Wilkerson Testimonials

To Generate Funds for a Jeweler’s Move and Remodel, Wilkerson More Than Delivered

Even successful jewelers need a little extra cash to fund expansion plans—especially when there’s inventory on hand that’s ripe for liquidation. For Beaumont, Texas-based jeweler Michael Price, co-owner of Mathews Jewelers, it was the perfect time to call Wilkerson. Price talked to other jewelers as well as vendors for advice during the selection process and decided to go with Wilkerson. And he wasn’t disappointed. When it comes to paying for the move and expansion, Price says the road ahead is clear. “When we close on the next two stores, there’s no worries about finances.”

Promoted Headlines


Use Facebook for What It Is

Stop romanticizing Facebook.




AHH, FACEBOOK, THE most widely discussed social channel. Every trade show is packed with speakers on the subject. “How to get the most from Facebook”, “How to Sell on Facebook”, “Get More Fans on Facebook”, the list goes on and on. Yet, almost all of you are using the channel wrong and wasting tons of time trying to work the fringes of the social network.

Let’s Cut to the Chase

Facebook wasn’t built for businesses. Businesses started using Facebook because they thought they could make money off of “free” marketing. Well, nothing is really free, at least not something truly effective. Fans? As Joe Biden would say, “Come on, man!” Truth is, an overwhelming majority of your “fans” never log into Facebook to see what’s going on at Main Street Jewelers. Sure, maybe here and there, but those people are on the fringe and that’s the point. Why would you want to spend so much time working the fringe instead of going for the core?

Organic Reach

Many retailers spend hours and hours creating content for their Facebook page only to post to their feed for a handful of likes. These are called organic posts because you don’t put any marketing dollars toward promoting them. That’s a waste of time and effort for the type of results you’ll get. Some agencies or “gurus” will say “Post multiple times per day to increase your reach”… to that I say, “Come on, man!” Let’s get down to the facts; organic reach on Facebook is now under 3%, meaning if you have 2,000 fans you might get 60 to even see your content. Moreover, only your current fans will see the content, unless they share it with someone. Also, an organic post has a lifespan of only about 2 hours. It’s simply not worth dedicating that much time for so little results. You’d be better off creating blog content for your website. If someone offered you a free billboard in the middle of the woods, would you take it? If you answered yes, what are you hoping your ROI is on this endeavor? Is it even worth the cost to print the graphics? The answer is no. You’re better off spending your time elsewhere.

Facebook is Just a Media Spend

That’s right, Facebook is just another marketing medium, and an effective one at that, if that’s how you approach it. Facebook advertising allows you to post a couple of times per week, yet your posts will be seen by more of your fans as well as others who meet your customer profile. You’ll go from a handful of likes to maybe 10x as much, or more! Plus, you’ll save more than half your time to do something more productive.

The point is to stop romanticizing Facebook. It’s a great publishing tool, but you have to get your content in front of people, and that takes dollars. Facebook is just a media spend. Even the category Social Media has been telling you that all along.

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Tip Sheet

How to Start a “Glitterature” Book Club, and More Tips for March

And here’s a cool way to present newly-cleaned jewelry in a way you’ve never thought of.




MARKETINGNew Page, Old Book

Laura Stanley, owner of Stanley Jewelers Gemologist in North Little Rock, AR, says her book club, Glitterature, is one of the most effective things her store does in terms of marketing. “We discuss a book that is related to jewelry. I present a 15-minute PowerPoint on a category of jewelry with live samples, and everyone has a fun evening,” she explains. “The best thing is my book club girls are an army of disciples. They feel special and they recommend me to their friends.”

SERVICEYour Jewelry Is Served

Never discount the power of presentation. Give your jewelry to the crew at Nyman Jewelers in Excanaba, MI, for a check and a clean, and it’s handed back on a plate, literally. “We deliver the jewelry back to them arranged nicely on a fancy saucer with a piece of lace, and we add a Hershey Kiss for them as well,” says co-owner Sue Parker. A lasting impression is guaranteed.

SECURITYEntrepreneur Beware

Every so often, you’ll read a news story about a seemingly street-smart business person who does something inexplicable, like wire hundreds of thousands of dollars to a man peddling a story about hidden gold. The reason, as psychology writer Maria Konnikova points out in her podcast, is that entrepreneurial types are actually more susceptible to being conned. They’re risk-takers who trust their own judgment, and they know too much caution can be fatal. But the trait that made them a success is the same one that can spell their undoing. As we move through tax scam season, take care if you’re one of those entrepreneurs whose boldness and lack of skepticism has been a key factor in your success.

HUMAN RESOURCESThe Customer Comes Second

Mucklow’s Fine Jewelry team in Peachtree City, GA, are inspired by Virgin Group founder Richard Branson’s approach and often use the following two quotes:

1. The way you treat your employees is the way they will treat your customers.

2. Employees come first. If you take care of your employees, they will take care of the clients.

Mucklow’s does that with lots of paid vacation, staff-friendly hours and other benefits. It must be doing something right. It was a finalist in our 2018 America’s Coolest Store contest.

IN-STOREMeet the hardest working dog in jewelry

Have a store hound lying around near the diamond case. Give it some training and put it to work, a la the jewelers at M. Flynn Boston, whose dog “does tricks that help distract children while their parents shop.”

PRODUCTIVITYPhysical Action = Results

You’ve got a thousand things to do, but some just seem to elude completion. The problem could be that you’re not phrasing your tasks correctly, says productivity guru David Allen, author of Getting Things Done. He notes that in the context of daily work, physical actions are the only things you can do. That’s why a surprisingly powerful anti-procrastination trick is to keep rephrasing a task until it involves the use of your limbs: “Pick up phone and call…”, “Open laptop and search for…”

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Real Deal

A Jeweler is Forced to Fire His Peer’s Son, Who Then Threatens to Sue. How Should He Handle It?

He made the mistake of calling his friend to let him know before he fired the son.




FIVE YEARS AGO, Jim Leland, owner of James, Ltd., an upscale, suburban store in the Southeast, got a call from Scott Gordon, his longtime best friend and fellow jewelry store owner. Scott said that his 30 year-old son Evan — an entry-level bench jeweler — was struggling and was in need of a fresh start. He knew that Jim had been looking to replace his soon-to-retire bench guy, and asked if he would consider Evan for the job. Jim had some concerns about hiring his friend’s son, but he’d known Evan since he was born, and was reasonably confident that between them, he and Scott could handle any challenges that might arise. Once Evan was on board, Jim could see that basic training and four years of bench experience had rendered him moderately competent, and that, as his father described, he had a lot of potential. He seemed to take well to the idea of a fresh start in a different part of the country and was grateful for the opportunity.


Real Deal is a fictional scenario designed to read like real-life business events. The businesses and people mentioned in this story should not be confused with actual jewelry businesses and people.


Kate Peterson is president and CEO of Performance Concepts, a management consultancy for jewelers. Email her at

Evan started off pretty well, and over the first two years, his skills improved as Jim provided ongoing training and continued to challenge him with more complex jobs. As the second year came to a close, however, Evan’s reliability started to become an issue. Work was still getting done well and generally on schedule, but Evan was frequently late and out sick more than normal. He said that he was just going through an especially tough time, with everything from his car dying to dealing with allergies and a series of other minor health issues, but that things were heading in a positive direction, and he would definitely get it all under control.

Evan was paid well, but with old debt, was still struggling for cash. In an effort to help (and hopefully, to minimize punctuality and attendance issues), Jim offered him the option of living in the small studio apartment above the store at no cost in lieu of a pay increase as he entered his third year with the company. Evan accepted Jim’s generous offer, but his reliability did not improve much. He was still late several days each week, spent increasing amounts of time behind the building smoking e-cigarettes, and began disappearing to his apartment for periods of time during the day.

Jim suspected a return to the excessive alcohol and/or drug use issues his friend’s son had battled before a stay in rehab and his move south, but when confronted, Evan angrily denied the suspicions. Unable to prove anything, Jim felt that his hands were tied. He told Evan that being at the bench on time was a condition of employment, that he was no longer permitted to leave the store without direct permission, and that all breaks and lunches must be approved. Once again, Evan apologized and promised improvement.

Another year went by with what appeared to be moderate progress. There were still issues, including even more frequent “smoke breaks,” but the number of late arrivals had diminished, and the sick time had tapered off a bit, as did Evan’s visits to his upstairs apartment during business hours. There were a few staff complaints about “surly, temperamental behavior,” but Jim thought they were pretty routine. Evan’s skill level didn’t seem to improve much that year, but work was getting done. With business on the increase, Jim had little available time to babysit.

At the end of last year, Evan took two weeks off after the holidays to visit his dad back home. While he was away, one female employee made what she referred to as an “official complaint” accusing Evan of sexual harassment. She also described multiple instances of seeing Evan pouring vodka into his water bottle in the store. Another told Jim that Evan had actually been vaping weed behind the store during work hours. She knew because he had invited her to join him, and because he also offered to sell weed (still illegal in the state) to her and to other employees.

It was clear to Jim at that point that Evan had to go. The James, Ltd. Employee Manual made it very clear that harassment of any kind would not be tolerated and that drug or alcohol use on the job was cause for immediate termination. He chose to have the conversation by phone rather than wait for him to get back, so Evan could take the time to decide if he wanted to stay with his dad. Jim then decided he owed it to Scott to give him a heads-up before talking to Evan to explain why he felt he had to fire his son. Jim was firmly convinced that Evan needed help, and believed he owed it to his friend to fill him in.

The day after the termination call, Evan sent Jim an email demanding that he deposit a $25,000 “severance payment” into his bank account. He threatened that if Jim refused, he would sue for wrongful termination and violation of employee confidentiality since Jim had spoken to his father about his employment situation. Jim knew that his actions were based on genuine concern for his business and for Evan’s well-being. He also understood Evan’s anger and need to lash out, but he was caught totally off guard by what he perceived as a clear-cut extortion attempt.

The Big Questions

  • Was terminating Evan the right call without further investigation of the harassment complaint or direct proof of drug or alcohol use?
  • Did Jim violate employment law by talking with Scott about the situation with his son?
  • Should he reach out to his friend again with a request for help in getting Evan to back off — or should he retain an employment attorney?
Brian W.
Greensboro, NC

Document, document, document. Have a store policy and follow it. First offense, verbal warning, document it. Second offense, written warning, have the associate sign and date it, make copies. Third offense, termination. You can always make exceptions, give multiple written warnings, give the guy a chance, but you want it all written down. Failure to follow through may be harmful to not only your business, but more importantly to your other associates. Yes, it was right to fire him. Yes, hire an employment attorney, and document who (which associate) said what, when and where. He might need it if the former associate actually follows through with his threats.

Christine H.
Lemoyne, PA

Even though positive intent was there, Evan’s father should not have been contacted nor his son’s employment discussed. Evan is an adult and deserves confidentiality about his employment. The owner should have had an exploratory conversation with Evan first to determine if the accusations were true. My opinion is it would have been best to wait for Evan to come back to discuss face to face. The owner should have also talked to the other employees mentioned in the complaints to see if there were witnesses or other interactions with Evan that should have been considered prior to his discussion with Evan, so he had a full scope view of his team’s observations. The owner should then have asked Evan questions to gain clarity about why he was late, taking multiple breaks, etc. Then an educated decision could have been made about his employment.

Susan O.
Kirkland, WA

The termination of Evan was way past due and not worth risking the well-being of the business and employees. In Washington, a person can be terminated with no reason given, but in this case, a “This is not working out” is all that is needed. I do not feel there is any need for concern about a lawsuit considering the egregious behavior that has gone on and that you have been condoning by letting it go on for several years. Any suspicion of drugs or alcohol in our business is dealt with immediately. Again, the welfare of the business is the priority, and Evan is lashing out and needs an intervention. The tenancy is another issue altogether, and Evan may have tenant rights in your state that you need to adhere to.

Kent C.
St. Simon’s Island, GA

Is it permissible in this state to spank Evan? It appears he is an irresponsible child. I would send him back to his father with out any supper. Dismiss the threat of blackmail as simply another attempt of Evan’s self-centered thinking. If proper records were kept prior to firing, I wouldn’t be concerned. How many times has this spoiled boy failed at rehab, other jobs, and at school? The father should have been open with his friend, the store owner, about how dysfunctional the boy’s bad habits were. Somewhere along the line, the store owner must accept his enabling behavior. Allowing Evan to screw up is the perfect lesson to the rest of Jim’s staff. Talk about a bad apple ruining the rest. His father should be asked to come pick up any possessions and Evan should be banned from the store.

Marc F.
Houston, TX

I think the owner tried his best to help the friend’s son out. Five years of employment is a long time. How much was invested in him? I don’t allow “trial by ambush.” The owner should have instructed the employee making the allegations to put it in writing. When Evan comes back, have a private meeting and show him the letter, see which way he reacts. Based on that, have your attorney mediator sit down with Evan, the accuser, and the owner, and come to an agreement. All this was hearsay, you must remember. Bringing in Evan’s dad as a pal to pal isn’t doing anyone any good. Whatever happens, he will understand. Take things step by step cautiously and with prudence.

Marcus M.
Midland, TX

Terminating Evan was definitely the right call. Jim had his concerns, and those were cemented with the complaints from his employees. Evan is a bad apple, and his behavior is spot-on with that of an addict. He needs help and hopefully he’ll get it. But if I were Jim, I would tell him he can take his severance demand and threats and shove them. Jim gave him more than his fair share of chances, and Evan took advantage of him. Maybe once Evan settles down, Scott can talk sense into him, then he’ll realize he’s in the wrong and drop the threats. I would definitely hire an employment attorney, though, just in case this guy gets real crazy.

Stacey H.
Lincolnwood, IL

Hire an employment attorney. There should have been a series of warnings, write-ups, and a serious conversation about standards each time with a signed “I understand that I have been put on notice about my behavior” note for his personnel file. Once he hired his friend’s kid, all bets were off with the father. He never should have discussed personnel matters with anyone but the employee(s) involved. The matter of the offer of drug dealing might be the way to deflect a lawsuit, but this was bungled.

Bruce A.
Sherwood Park, AB

Regardless of Jim’s compassion, he has left himself open for potential litigation. His first course of action should have been a discussion with his own lawyer on the legal (and proper) handling of employee termination. The regulations vary from various countries and between states and provinces. But all regulations share similar and basic employee protections. By Jim ignoring his own availability to legal council, he has entered the gladiator ring with nary a sword nor a shield!

What’s the Brain Squad?

If you’re the owner or top manager of a U.S. jewelry store, you’re invited to join the INSTORE Brain Squad. By taking one five-minute quiz a month, you can get a free t-shirt, be featured prominently in this magazine, and make your voice heard on key issues affecting the jewelry industry. Good deal, right? Sign up here.

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