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Essay Contest Winner: I’ve Seen the Enemy, and He is Me



“What do you see as the strongest competitive threat to your business in 2018, and what specific actions are you taking to address it?”

As I read this question in an email on my iPhone shortly after ordering my wife’s birthday gift on Amazon, I believe “I” am the biggest threat to my business in 2018. 

By “I,” of course I mean the 30- and 40-somethings who have discovered that gift shopping and getting up off the couch are no longer synonymous. For most jewelry stores, competing with the web is like running the Chicago Marathon in flip-flops. Sure, it can be accomplished, but isn’t it just easier to pretend it doesn’t exist (or at least wear shoes)? 

While this relatively new market may take some time to foster interest, being able to offer a comparable diamond at a competitive price is worth the future marketing dollars.”

The “I’s” of this generation especially love to research and buy loose diamonds online. Competitors like Blue Nile and James Allen have been around since I was in high school, yet here we are almost 20 years later still wondering how to contend. Now I get it, because competing on diamond web pricing is like drinking warm beer: it gets the job done, but it sure tastes terrible going down. Still, brainstorming ways to make sales against online competitors is now a daily ritual. 

But unlike many in our industry who argue, like a baseball manager kicking dirt on an umpire after a bad strike-three call, that “there is nothing we can do,” in 2018 our store is competing head-on by offering “recycled” diamonds. 


New companies like Diadem are making it possible to sell GIA-certified diamonds at a competitive markup. By purchasing diamonds from local customers, sending them to GIA to be graded, and then using special packaging to secure the newly graded recycled diamonds, our store has the ability to compete with virtual stores.

While this relatively new market may take some time to foster interest, being able to offer a comparable diamond at a competitive price is worth the future marketing dollars.

In addition, not only will our brick store work on margins much closer to our virtual opponents, our customers will help the environment, too. Recycled diamonds are a way to the get the “I’s” of this world to shop local, save money, and feel amazing that “I” did not only buy a diamond, “I” saved the world. 

And as Marvel reminds us at the box office, it is a lot of fun to defend the world. With this new recycled diamond program, the “I’s” don’t even have to dress up in fancy armor to save my planet! Although, let’s face it, if I did dress that way, I would have a whole new market to sell jewelry to in the future.

We face new challenges every day, but new opportunities, like recycled diamonds, make me believe our business can succeed in 2018.

This article originally appeared in the January 2018 edition of INSTORE.




When the Kids Have Their Own Careers, Wilkerson Can Help You to Retire

Alex and Gladys Rysman are the third generation to run Romm Jewelers in Brockton, Mass. And after many decades of service to the industry and their community, it was time to close the store and take advantage of some downtime. With three grown children who each had their own careers outside of the industry, they decided to call Wilkerson. Then, the Rysmans did what every jeweler should do: They called other retailers and asked about their own Wilkerson experience. “They all told us what a great experience it was and that’s what made us go with Wilkerson.” says Gladys Rysman. The results? Alex Rysman says he was impressed. “We exceeded whatever I expected to do by a large margin.”

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