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Best of the Best: “Extreme Makeover” Meets Custom Design

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Best of the Best LogoTHE CHANCE TO TAKE PART IN A NATIONALLY BROADCAST TV SHOW might seem like a piece of serendipity, but as with all stories of good fortune, you have to earn your luck. That was the case for Lee Krombholz, who was asked to design a new engagement ring for the featured couple in an episode of ABC’s Extreme Makeover: Home Edition.  — Eileen McClelland

[componentheading]THE IDEA [/componentheading]
[contentheading]Leverage Your Name[/contentheading]

Because of his national reputation for custom design, Lee Krombholz of Krombholz Jewelers in Cincinnati, OH, was approached in late 2010 about creating a ring for India Dickinson, the wife of U.S. Marine Bill Dickinson, in the May 1 episode of ABC’s Extreme Makeover: Home Edition.

[componentheading]THE EXECUTION [/componentheading]
[contentheading]Scramble to the Finish[/contentheading]

But before Krombholz came into the picture, the Dickinson family of Beaufort, SC, had problems that jewelry alone could not resolve. “The house is just literally falling apart,” says India on the show. Their house was plagued by mold and nearly uninhabitable, their baby was suffering respiratory woes as a result, and their six children needed more space. Their dad, Staff Sgt. Bill Dickinson, a 17-year veteran of the U.S. Marines, was deployed in Afghanistan and worried about his family. “Extreme Makeover” chose the Dickinsons to receive a new house.

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Still Bill regretted that he had never been able to give India an engagement ring, so the TV team decided to resolve that issue, too. They asked Krombholz to design and create a ring while “Extreme Makeover” host Ty Pennington and the design team, along with South Carolina donors and volunteers, worked for a week to create a new home for the family — and the finishing touch: a custom jewelry box to hold the special ring.

Krombholz is a third-generation jeweler with a background in traditional jewelry manufacturing. He has been recognized nationally for his work with jewelry design and has a reputation for innovation in using technology in design. His work was featured in the GOLD exhibition at the Cincinnati Museum Center in 2010. He was a natural for the assignment. “We make 98 percent of our engagement rings,” Krombholz says. “The people who search and find us want something made for them. Custom-designing bridal is very important for us.

“When they asked if I’d be interested, it was about three weeks before their deadline,” Krombholz says. “You give them your time and money in order to get the PR from it. So I had to decide how much I wanted to spend. They were kind of loose about what they wanted; they said, ‘Just show us some pictures.’

“There was a point in time, when I had 12 days to go, when I said I don’t know if I’ll be able to do this. I almost gave up. I had to do the CAD design, a wax model, and set all the diamonds and gemstones. But we came to a conclusion and I began the process.”

[componentheading]THE RESULT [/componentheading]
[contentheading]National Exposure[/contentheading]

With little information about the family and on a tight deadline, Krombholz crafted a custom, engagement-style diamond ring, accented with birthstones representing the family’s six children. The retail value was $17,000.

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The house was finished in January and the show aired on May 1, when Krombholz hosted a viewing party. “We had about 70 clients and friends watch the show with us,” he says.

On the show, the ring was presented during the home ‘reveal.’ A thrilled India entered their new bedroom and found the ring in the custommade box, while Bill watched from Afghanistan via a live video feed. “It is very moving and we were delighted to be a part of it,” Krombholz says. “I wanted to demonstrate how a jeweler who does design goes through a process. It’s the foundation of what I’ve spent most of my time and money on in the past few years.”

[componentheading]DO IT YOURSELF[/componentheading]

[li]Build your reputation. Krombholz says he had the opportunity to participate in the show because he had put time and eff ort into developing a reputation as an awardwinning designer. “I highly recommend entering design contests,” he says. “If you have success with that, work hard with a PR fi rm to broadcast that. Once established, Krombholz advises, take that design reputation very seriously. “People call themselves designers, but few actually design. It has to be about an individual’s reputation. It can’t be Krombholz Jewelers. They want that human connection and they want to be able to talk to a designer, a person who is really going to do the design.” [/li]

[li]Fine new ways to spread your news. Krombholz hosts a lot of events, but he reaches out beyond his customer base for the guest list: We work with an online women’s publication called Cinci Chic,” he says. “They have 16,000 online subscribers. We do kind of advertise on there, but we really more partner with them. That’s been successful in bringing in a whole other group of people than we would’ve been able to reach otherwise.” [/li]

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[span class=note]This story is from the September 2011 edition of INSTORE[/span]

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