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The Right Way to Display Loose Gemstones, and Other Questions You Asked Us




How do you display loose gemstones securely and attractively?

Let’s start with security. Every store’s circumstances are different, but placing loose stones in small trays of no more than three and spreading the trays throughout the case is a good way to deter smash-and-grab robbers and mitigate losses. You should also regularly review your security procedures on all your cases with staff and be sure the showcase locks work and that they are used every time. Now that you’ve secured your loose goods we can think about making them attractive for people who want to acquire them legally. Larry Johnson, author of The Complete Guide to Effective Jewelry Display, says among the methods he’s seen are cups with screw tops, which provide a ready place for your sticker. He also recommends tweezer-like “grippers” so customers can handle the stones easily. “Human nature prompts the buyer to roll the gripper between their fingers making the stone really sparkle,” he says, adding that File-A-Gem cards are a great way to display the specifications of the stone right next to it. “As with all your displays, separate the better pieces into their own individual displays to enhance their perceived value. Never put your stones, or any other jewelry in your case, all lined up like soldiers. It encourages quick scanning instead of careful viewing of each item,” he says.

I’m thinking of hiring my first manager. What should I look for?

The No. 1 thing is that the manager is interested in bringing out the best in the people under him or her. A lot of great salespeople, for example, aren’t great managers because they are motivated more by personal achievement, even when you give them the tools they need to do the job like an assistant and structured training programs. The other selection mistake owners often make is to try to pick someone who seems just like them. Again, this doesn’t necessarily translate into a great manager. People will follow and work hard for someone they trust, who they feel has their back, and who is consistent. Here’s a short list of things to look for, in order of importance:

  • A good coach.
  • Someone who will empower your team and not micromanage.
  • Someone who will express interest in team members’ success and personal well-being.
  • Someone who is results-oriented.
  • Someone who is a good communicator — meaning they will listen to your team. Bad managers are a big reason people leave jobs. The decision involves assessing people’s soft skills, always a tough judgment. Don’t take shortcuts.
I have a client who is a well-known former baseball player. He got divorced a few years ago and as part of the settlement his ex gave him back the ring, which he now wants to sell on consignment. I’m assuming it’s going to be worth more if I say he is the owner. Are there legal issues with disclosing the name of the guy in conversation with prospective buyers?

Privacy laws may indeed come into play here, says Jo-Ann Sperano, a paralegal at the Jewelers Vigilance Committee. But regardless of what your state may say about the issue, there is an ethical convention that should be followed. “An unwritten understanding is given when a client sells or buys jewelry that the matter should remain confidential unless you get authorization to use the person’s name,” she says. So, best to ask first.

I’m confused. Some people tell me that if you’re trying to flatter a woman, show her a small ring size while others tell me to go for a big one. What should I do?

In the past, we have advocated the “Oh, you must be a size 6” approach but the more jewelers we talk to, the more we meet who have had success doing the opposite. “When you hand a woman with large fingers a ring size that is too small, she is embarrassed and usually makes some self-deprecating comment about her scale,” says John Paul, of John Paul Designs in Bend, OR. “I find giving them a larger one, not focusing on the number, makes them feel better as you come down in size to their eventual size.” Charles Sherman, who operates the Charles Sherman, Infinity Sculpture and Design gallery in Van Nuys, CA, uses a similar approach: “Whenever a woman tells me she has fat fingers, I always find a ring two or three sizes larger and say, ‘Try this on.’ When it goes on almost without touching her skin I say, ‘You have little fingers and they are much smaller than you think.’ This makes her very happy. I say, ‘What design do you like better, this one or that one?’ Sale closed.”


This article originally appeared in the March 2014 issue of INSTORE.






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Hosting a going-out-of-business sale when the coronavirus pandemic hit wasn’t a part of Bob Smith’s game plan for his retirement. Smith, the owner of E.M. Smith Jewelers in Chillicothe, Ohio, says the governor closed the state mid-way through. But Smith chose Wilkerson, and Wilkerson handled it like a champ, says Smith. And when it was time for the state to reopen, the sale continued like nothing had ever happened. “I’d recommend Wilkerson,” he says. “They do business the way we do business.”

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