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I Had My Staff Visit 6 Other Jewelry Stores. Here’s What They Learned …

How to offer — and not offer — customer service was one of the lessons.

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I Had My Staff Visit 6 Other Jewelry Stores. Here’s What They Learned …

I Had My Staff Visit 6 Other Jewelry Stores. Here’s What They Learned …

Blaine Lewis of NewApproachSchool.com takes his students on a “road trip.”

Would you ever take your jewelers on a “road trip?” I did, many years ago.

I called seven jewelry stores in a high-end mall not too far from us and told them I wanted to show our staff “the other side of the fence.” We were non-competitive with them, so I didn’t see a problem. One hung up on me while others were an enthusiastic “yes!” and another was “OK.”

The first store sold only estate jewelry. We brought eye loupes with us to look at the back of pieces and the settings. This was a great way to see lots of old craftsmanship, see where things were repaired before selling and how jewelers 100 years ago did their work.

We then visited Ross-Simons, and they couldn’t have been lovelier. They showed us that they actually had two lines to sell: one for mall customers and one for their catalog. With our loupes, we could see the difference in craftsmanship. Price is a factor.

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The most surprising visit was at Tiffany & Co. I had called ahead, but they would only show us silver, not a single gold or platinum piece! In every store, I wanted to show our staff the craftsmanship of the other stores’ products, which requires magnification. When we pulled out our jeweler’s loupes, Tiffany loudly told us, “No loupes!”

What were we looking for at these stores?

  • Thickness of shanks
  • How well stones are set, whether prongs, channel or bead
  • Polishing underneath where most people don’t look

Here were a few things we noticed:

  • Fine workmanship has “azures” where the stones are set. Rather than leaving the hole for a diamond round, one jeweler took a saw and cut the hole to be square. Nice touch, but does add more cost.
  • Some designers will pierce out a fancy thin plate and install it under a large open area; very classy.
  • Another flush-set a one-point diamond inside the shank as their trademark, right at the 6 o’clock mark.

Not on the list of things to learn was “how to treat people who come into your store.”

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