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Jewelers Never Thought They’d Need These Skills … But They’re Sure Coming in Handy

These jewelers never stop learning.




Jewelers Never Thought They’d Need These Skills … But They’re Sure Coming in Handy
When jeweler Chris Snowden of Snowden’s Jewelers in Wilmington, NC started in the business, he never thought he’d have to build his skills in video production.

Social media marketing. Oy vey. I started my jewelry-making business in 1984, looooong before the advent of the internet in its current form. It would never have occurred to me all the online social interaction that is now critical to a business. — Janne Etz, Contemporary Concepts, Cocoa, FL

  • I never knew I would become the Internet security officer! — Steven Wardle, Forest Beach Design, Chatham, MA
  • Untangling knots from chains! Who’d have considered that? Now I amaze myself with my dexterity with the tweezers. — Kim Hatchell, Galloway & Moseley, Sumter, SC
  • Sorting/handling/matching/picking elk teeth! — Jennifer Hornik Johnson, Miller’s Jewelry, Bozeman, MT
  • Juggling — lol. — Frank Intorcia, Frank anson Jewelers, Staten Island, NY
  • Video production. When I started in the business, that was a term for Hollywood. — Chris Snowden, Snowden’s Jewelers, Wilmington, NC
  • Compassion. Never thought that was necessary in retail. — Karen Schmitt, Straith’s Jewelers, Centralia, IL
  • Talking about money clearly and forthrightly. As an artist, I used to be so shy and apologetic (can you imagine?) about discussing price. – Eve J. Alfille, Eve J. Alfille Gallery and Studio, Evanston, IL
  • I can look at someone’s hands and know their ring size. — Betsy Barron, Love & Luxe, San Francisco, CA
  • I started learning Photoshop years ago never thinking I would use it so much. — Laura Sipe, JC Sipe Inc, Indianapolis, IN
  • I learned how to be the “Marketer In Chief” of our business and it helped take us to new highs. — Bill Warren, The Gold Mine, Hudson, NC
  • Public speaking. — Ragnar Bertelsen, Ragnar Jewellers, Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada
  • As the store manager, I never thought it would be to my benefit to know about hunting, fishing and ALL the gear that goes with it! We have many outdoorsmen as customers and they love that I know about that stuff. It makes them instantly more at ease in a “scary store with shiny things.” – Mary Jo Chanski, Hannoush Jewelers, Rutland, VT
  • How to schmooze the client. — David Abrams, Grand Jewelers, Rancho Cucamonga, CA
  • Being an auctioneer. I only do it for charities, but I do six to 10 a year for free and love it. We raise them a lot of money and give back to my town. And it helps my store a lot … folks come in. — Alan Perry, Perry’s Emporium, Wilmington, NC
  • E-commerce and web marketing … who knew in the ‘70s that a couple of hippies would become computer geeks! — Dorothy Vodicka, The Gem Collection, Tallahassee, FL
  • Talking about our store. I know it’s important, and yet I still find it hard to do. However, I do force myself! — Marta Jones-Couch, Elements Ltd., Des Moines, IA
  • The ability to say no — you don’t need a reason or to explain yourself. — Chris Wattsson, Wattsson & Wattsson Jewelers, Marquette, MI
  • I am an old dog, so custom design is not a skill I thought much about. In the old days, we just showed the customer the mountings we had and that was it. Now every ring we do has to be a custom design. — Donald Killelea, Killelea Jewelers, Midlothian, IL
  • I am an avid gold and diamond buyer — none of which I learned in jewelry school. — Denise Oros, Linnea Jewelers, La Grange, IL
  • When I created the company for my artist husband back in 1996, I was quite content to just be the accountant I always was, but as it turns out, even though I am art-impaired, I have a real skill at jewelry remodeling design. I look at a pile of old jewelry and create modern 21st century jewelry from it. — Jo Goralski, The Jewelry Mechanic, Inc., Oconomowoc, WI
  • How to manufacture single-piece jewelry. The process is very different from mass production. To make one piece from recycled metals and stones, at a competitive price, taught me an entirely different side of production. — Scott Lefcourt, Scottsdale Fine Jewelers, Scottsdale, AZ
  • Merchandising and display. I started out as purely a bench goldsmith. — Catherine Dining, CG Designs, Lafayette, CA
  • Selling skills — much more important than general business and management skills. — James Gattas, James Gattas Jewelers, Memphis, TN
  • I hated accounting when I was in college. Today, I love that management of inventory and numbers as they relate to the balance sheet in particular. The P&L was always pretty straightforward to me. — Steve Floyd, Floyd & Green, Aiken, SC
  • Accounting! When I started, I thought so long as there was more money coming in than going out, it was good. — Russell Criswell, Forge, Kansas City, MO
  • Minister. — Brian Stubblefield, Hendersonville Jewelers, Hendersonville, TN
  • I never really thought I’d need to be a counselor, but in this industry, we encounter people during life’s most vulnerable moments, including proposals, marriage, divorce and the loss of a special someone. It’s through these moments that we build trust with our clients. — Rhonda Neary, Diamond Design, St John’s, NL
  • Becoming more of a people person, learning out to bring the best out of the team, rallying them when they are down, helping them increase their skills to become better at their job. Being a coach. — Tom Duma, Thom Duma Fine Jewelers, Warren, OH
  • Really searching for and believing in data. — Chuck Kuba, Iowa Diamond, Des Moines, IA
  • Learning how to let people go. — Kas Jacquot, Kas A Designs, Jefferson City, MO
  • Being coachable. — Stew Brandt, H. Brandt Jewelers, Natick, MA
  • I’d have to say the ability to express myself in writing, whether it be a letter to a client or a interoffice memo. — Donnie Blanton, Brittany’s Fine Jewelry, Gainesville, FL

What’s the Brain Squad?

If you’re the owner or top manager of a U.S. jewelry store, you’re invited to join the INSTORE Brain Squad. By taking one five-minute quiz a month, you can get a free t-shirt, be featured prominently in this magazine, and make your voice heard on key issues affecting the jewelry industry. Good deal, right? Sign up here.



This Third-Generation Jeweler Was Ready for Retirement. He Called Wilkerson

Retirement is never easy, especially when it means the end to a business that was founded in 1884. But for Laura and Sam Sipe, it was time to put their own needs first. They decided to close J.C. Sipe Jewelers, one of Indianapolis’ most trusted names in fine jewelry, and call Wilkerson. “Laura and I decided the conditions were right,” says Sam. Wilkerson handled every detail in their going-out-of-business sale, from marketing to manning the sales floor. “The main goal was to sell our existing inventory that’s all paid for and turn that into cash for our retirement,” says Sam. “It’s been very, very productive.” Would they recommend Wilkerson to other jewelers who want to enjoy their golden years? Absolutely! “Call Wilkerson,” says Laura. “They can help you achieve your goals so you’ll be able to move into retirement comfortably.”

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