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Eileen McClelland

Could ‘Another Piece of Your Story’ Be the Next ‘Got Milk?’

Jewelers of America raises $300,000 to test a consumer-facing marketing campaign for the jewelry industry.

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JEWELERS OF AMERICA has met an initial fund-raising goal of $300,000 with support from industry associates, including INSTORE, to test a jewelry-marketing campaign that organizers hope will become as widely recognized by consumers as the ubiquitous “Got Milk?” campaign.

The announcement was made during the JA National Convention in New York this week by JA’s Amanda Gizzi, director of public relations and special events, and Molly Fallon, director of marketing and communications, along with Mark Smelzer, industry consultant and JCK magazine publisher.

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The goal is to promote the national jewelry industry as a whole and focuses on the potential of the female self-purchase market. Testing will begin on a targeted group of women in Los Angeles in mid-September. The five zip codes in the test market were selected based on their volume of JA member stores as well as the number of women who fit the demographic.

The tagline for the initiative is “Another Piece of Your Story,” developed by ad firm Cramer-Krasselt based on the idea that there’s an emotional connection with jewelry that’s far different from how consumers relate to any other luxury product. So much so that each piece of jewelry a woman chooses to wear becomes another piece of her identity. “No one ever cried when they got their Grandma’s cell phone,” Smelzer says.

The campaign will be tested on 30-something, married-with-children jewelry enthusiasts, who represent 8 percent of the population and have a combined income of over $100,000, as well as on 20-something women, who are single, make less than $100,000 and have been indifferent to jewelry. They represent 11 percent of the population.

Companies that have supported the effort thus far were recognized as being a part of the Pioneer Program. “The purpose of the campaign aligns with INSTORE’s core mission to support independent fine jewelers,” says INSTORE Publisher Matthijs Braakman. “Collaborative initiatives assure that our industry evolves and grows to meet new consumer demands. We encourage all stakeholders to learn more about the campaign and contribute where possible. INSTORE is proud to be a pioneer sponsor.”

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Pioneer Sponsors also include independent retailers H. Watson Jewelry Inc. and Krombholz Jewelers as well as Jewelers of America, The Plumb Club, American Gem Society, Ashi Diamonds, Artistry, Ltd., Emerald Expositions, Forevermark, Gemological Institute of America, Gumuchian, Jewelers Mutual Insurance Group, JCK Industry Fund, Midas Chain, Rahaminov Diamonds, Royal Chain Group, Shy Creation, Silver Promotion Service, Synchrony, Chow Tai Fook North America, Hearts on Fire, Memoire, Gabriel New York and Greenland Ruby.

The next step is to work toward creating a large-scale industry campaign for early 2020, for which more funding will be required.

For more information about the initiative, contact agizzi@jewelers.org or mfallon@jewelers.org.

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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Gene the Jeweler

Gene the Jeweler Gets Kicked Out of the Studio

In the latest episode (#42) of Gene the Jeweler, Gene is going about his business, recording a new episode. But that doesn’t last long. Four-time NFL Pro Bowl leading rusher Ahman Green walks in, and Gene finds that his time in the studio is over — whether he likes it or not. (See more Gene the Jeweler episodes at instoremag.com/gene.)

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Eileen McClelland

7 Quick Tips From the Stuller Bridge Conference

It took place July 21-23.

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EVERY YEAR HUNDREDS of Stuller’s retail customers make the trip to Lafayette, LA, to attend one of Stuller’s interactive Bridge conferences. Classes include deep dives into issues such as repair pricing, bridal merchandising, inventory management, and new directions in customization technology.

Attendees pick up tips and tricks from Stuller experts as well as fellow jewelers.

Here are just a few of many I picked up from this week’s session:

WELCOME TO MY STORE. Include a photo of your storefront on your website, along with text-based directions. It makes it easier for shoppers to find your store and eases threshold resistance.

MAKE THE MOST OF YOUR TIME. If you’re taking photos of jewelry for social media, zoom out. That will give you the ability to use one photo across all platforms and crop it to optimize the size and shape for Pinterest, Facebook and Instagram.

BUILD YOUR BRAND VOCABULARY. Begin to craft a brand identity by choosing three words that best describe your company. Imaginative? Resourceful? Purposeful? Adventurous? For example. Involve your staff in that exercise.

GOOGLE YOURSELF. A first impression online is critical. Take control of your content and the ability to interact with reviewers by verifying your Google business listing at Google.com/MyBusiness. Check your name, address and local phone number, URL, store hours and photos. Fill out every single field on this form with as much detail as you can. Verify location with a phone number or postcard verification.

REFRESH YOUR EXPERIENCE. Design intentional experiences that delight your customers. Don’t be afraid to draw on inspiration from other types of businesses. Sephora for example allows customers to interact with products. Saks Fifth Avenue emphasizes the importance of an open feeling and unobstructed, uncluttered sight lines. Starbucks has changed the vocabulary of ordering coffee from small, medium and large to tall, grande and venti! Take a fresh look at your store and rethink the status quo.

ELEVATE THE STANDING OF GROOMS. Bring men’s wedding bands out into the light. Don’t treat them as an afterthought to languish in a drawer or a corner. Men want to be included in the romantic symbolism of commitment.

OFFER ALTERNATIVES. Think stacking is just for fashion? That’s no longer true. The stacking trend has become very popular in bridal, too. Some brides are even opting for a stack of diamond bands instead of a traditional engagement ring.

Bridge is a three-day conference offering business insights, networking opportunities and more held at Stuller’s headquarters in Lafayette, LA. Bridge is free for qualifying customers of Stuller. Upcoming Bridge dates in 2019 are Sept. 22-24 and Oct. 20-22. For more information visit: stuller.com/bridge

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Eileen McClelland

GOB Sale Is This Jeweler’s First Discounting Event in 46 Years

At 74, Buddy Bear says it’s time to retire his long-running, one-man show.

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Buddy Bear

THROUGHOUT 46 YEARS in business, Buddy Bear never had a sale. He just didn’t like the idea of discounting.

But he knew when he decided to retire this year, he’d have to have his very first, a retirement sale that wrapped up June 29 in his Merion, PA, store, Buddy Bear Jewelers.

One practical reason he’s calling it quits now, at age 74, is because the building was being sold and he didn’t want to commit to a long-term lease.

Another reason is that tastes have changed, and he has had a tough time selling his statement designer pieces to millennials.

“Millennials who do come in are not customers who understand me,” he says. “I’m a dinosaur. They don’t want my one of a kind, large pieces.”

Bear’s given name was Harry Bear, which hadn’t gone over well in elementary school. Instead, he began using his nickname, Buddy. He had initially planned to name his store, Harry Alan Jewelers, a combination of his first and middle name because he thought it sounded more sophisticated for a jewelry store. But after his family and friends protested that idea, he relented and stuck with Buddy Bear Jewelers.

Bear, a longtime member of INSTORE’s Brain Squad, specialized in designing what he calls “transformers,” jewelry that can be taken apart and combined with other pieces to create an entirely different piece. Bar pins can come apart to become earrings, jackets, or pendants for pearl necklaces. Bracelets can become rings. He also spent years engineering and perfecting hinges that allowed pendants to lie beautifully on the neck.

“Up until three years ago I did my own manufacturing,” he says. “I cut my teeth on making one-of-a-kind pieces. You have to be creative. I didn’t copy stuff. I made my own models. I didn’t want to be influenced.”

Now millennials tell him they want to design their engagement rings themselves, but what that means, Bear says, is simply a CAD/CAM project. “I didn’t want to have to reinvest and learn that. And the mark-up in diamonds is so darn little now that you make your money on the mounting. All I can do is show them 35 styles of halos from a catalog. But it becomes too much work for so very little money.”

Being a one-man show got old, too, and he had fought some health issues in recent years.

“Had they not sold the building, I was struggling any way and I was killing myself,” he says.

“It used to take me two and a half hours to set up and one and an hour and a half to break down every day. I’d get here at 6:30 or 7 in the morning just to get ready to open at 10. In the last three or four years, I could sit here for a week and only see the mailman.”

Before decided to retire, he had cut back his work days to four.

A low point in his career was the 1999 robbery that wiped out half a million dollars in inventory, including customer repairs. “They caught the guys and I went through the trial he says.

Still, he says, despite the challenges and tribulations, he has loved his long tenure in the business, which he first learned from his father-in-law in Miami. He’s particularly proud of the jewelry industry design awards he piled up throughout the 1990s, including honors from the AGTA’s Spectrum Awards, the American Pearl Design Competition and the Pennsylvania Jewelers Association.

“I got a great deal of satisfaction out of winning awards within the industry,” he says. “It meant that fellow jewelers have respect for me. I’ve made a lot of good friends.” He’d also been a member of the American Gem Society for 22 years and is an alumni of the GIA.

Another highlight was working with customers to design special pieces he knew they would cherish as heirlooms.

“I’ve had people get engaged in the store. I’ve had couples break up in the store. If you’re in the business long enough, you have that happen.”

When it came to the retirement sale, he knew he couldn’t go it alone. He was referred to sale-event expert Chuck Frey of Charles Frey & Company, who came to the store to meet Bear and prepare for the sale. It turned out to be the perfect fit for Bear. “We had a connection from the beginning and it’s the best thing I ever did,” he says. “The supervisor they sent me was like sending me a brother. Joseph White has been in the industry for decades. So charming. So many sales he made I never could have.”

Bear’s best advice for fellow jewelers?

“It doesn’t matter what decision you make,” he says. “The most important thing is to make a decision. Then put all of your energy behind it. Too many people make a decision and then are unable to put the work behind it to make that succeed.”

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Eileen McClelland

First JA Convention Tackles Weighty Issues

Focus of July event is on education and technology.

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JEWELRY RETAILERS, DESIGNERS and manufacturers looking for answers to burning questions about the state of the industry might do well to attend Jewelers of America’s first national convention, July 28-29 at the InterContinental New York Barclay in New York City.

Organizers have created an educational lineup with unique content as well as hands-on technological help. The event is also timed to coincide with Women’s Jewelry Association Awards for Excellence, July 29, and American Gem Society Circle of Distinction dinner, July 30.

“It’s designed to be a really focused, two-day, high-level educational forum for our members and potential members,” says David Bonaparte, president and CEO of Jewelers of America.

So if, for example, you’ve been lying awake at night, staring at the ceiling and wondering what to do about lab-grown diamonds that may infiltrate your inventory, visiting the Diamond Detection Lab during the Jewelers of America National Convention may ease your insomnia by demonstrating a variety of state-of-the-art solutions.

“With so much news and focus on lab-grown diamonds, with new technologies overseas and the ability for manufacturers to produce everything from man-made melee up to a carat and over, we’re seeing that there are issues of detection that present a real need in the industry,” says David Bonaparte.

“The worry is that some goods would pass through labs and go undetected.”

Over the years, however GIA, DeBeers and others have begun to produce ever more sophisticated desktop equipment that makes sending every diamond or potential diamond to an external lab unnecessary.

“There are now devices you can acquire and use to make sure that what you are buying is what the seller says it is,” Bonaparte says. “It’s a great way to see what’s the latest and greatest out there.” The goal of the Diamond Detection Lab is to introduce retailers and diamond dealers to the equipment that is available to them in a simple, user-friendly way.

JA has also curated a group of technology providers in a casual, interactive environment for a Retail Innovation Lab that includes a wide variety of tech options. “I think the most important issues are inventory management and omni-channel selling, so you don’t have your capital just sitting in a case,” Bonaparte says. “Inventory management is always a huge challenge for retailers, especially for the mom and pop retailer; and our demographic is 92 percent single store mom and pop retailers.”

Beyond technology, high-level discussions are planned on geopolitical finance, macroeconomics and legislative action.

“We have Charlie Cook of the Cook Political Report who is a one of the leading pollsters in the country who will talk about politics and what the election will mean to businesses,” Bonaparte says. “We also have the U.S. State Department coming to talk about the Kimberley process and responsible sourcing. It’s really unique content that we’re hoping is appealing not only to retailers but to manufacturers as well.”

Another unique aspect of the convention is that attendees won’t be distracted by making appointments with vendors between seminars. “There are great events out there, and they deliver a lot of content and value, but there are really not that many that don’t have a show attached to them,” Bonaparte says.

Retail Innovation Lab exhibitors include:

  • Abbott Jewelry Systems produces a comprehensive software solution to manage retail jewelry stores called the Edge.
  • Buyers Intelligence Group™ designs solutions for merchandising challenges facing retail jewelers and manufacturers. BIG’s online platform provides data analysis tools to help clients understand their business and strategically plan their profitability.
  • Fire Polish Diamonds has developed The Fire Polish cutting technique, which is protected by five U.S. and international patents. By cutting Nano Prisms™ (diffraction gratings) on the pavilion of a diamond, Fire Polish is able to increase the dispersion and scintillation of any diamond without affecting the diamond’s cut or brilliance.
  • GPShopper is a mobile app developer for retailers, empowering brands to improve the customer shopping experience through multiple touch points. Synchrony acquired GPShopper in 2017 to create new mobile solutions for its retail partners.
  • JewelTrace by Spacecode is an RFID-powered data analytics and inventory management solution for jewelers.
  • Podium is a rich communication platform for local businesses. It’s the simplest way to collect reviews, get found online, and talk to customers in real-time through text.
  • Outernets converts static walls, glass and displays into interactive, customizable digital experiences.
  • Smart Age Solutions is a digital marketing agency specializing in the fine jewelry industry partnered with Review Alert. Smart Age Solutions also advises, conducts webinars, and provides unpublished data from Google for its clients.
  • Virtual Diamond Boutique is an interactive app platform to source a diverse global inventory of diamonds, colored gemstones, jewelry and lab-grown diamonds. It’s designed to be easy to use on a desktop or on any mobile device.

For more information, visit here.

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