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How Weather Affects Jewelry Stores (Hint: Snow Brings Seniors with Watch Batteries)

Our Brain Squad divulges how weather affects jewelry shopping in their markets.

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Heavy storms keep customers at home but also get them rushing over before and after. Sometimes the heavy rain helps us because we know that the people who make the trip out are serious about purchasing. They also get our undivided attention. — Betsy Barron, Love & Luxe, San Francisco, CA

  • If there is a big snow, I can almost promise we will be dead for the majority of the day except for that “one guy” who always has the “Big Truck” and decides today is the day he’s buying “the ring.” As if he is a Spartan heading into battle, he has waited for the worst possible day to drive, but today is the day, and he will be “the man” and rise up to the occasion and battle the weather and prove his love to her by buying her “the ring.” — Travis Piper, Piper Diamond Co., Vincennes, IN
  • Bad weather brings out old people with canes and walkers. — Jim Greenfield, Spritz Jewelers, Champaign, IL
  • Anything falling from the sky is a business downer. If I use the windshield wipers on the way to the shop, it means I will get to spend the day at the workbench and get a lot accomplished. If it is very cold, it means I will have an influx of senior ladies who know it is a warm place to hangout, and if it is a fine spring day, the traffic will be brisk, people will see me outside working on the plantings around the shop and stop, usually with a sale as a result. — James Doggett, Doggett Jewelry, Kingston, NH
  • I don’t think it matters at all. I remember when I started here 40-plus years ago, my uncle and dad would use weather as an excuse for bad business. If it was sunny, people were out working on their yards or at the beach; if it was crappy, who wanted to come out in the rain or snow? If someone needs to pick up their wedding bands or anniversary gift, they are coming regardless of weather. — Eric Ohanian, Leon Ohanian & Sons, Boston, MA
  • We had 1.7 inches of snow from Dec. 1 to Jan. 18, then we got 18-plus inches in nine days, followed by 54 hours of polar vortex. We were supposed to work the vortex, my husband even put a new battery in the truck, but when he let the dogs out that morning, he came back in and said, “No way!” Most folks that can, leave Wisconsin from January to April. The diehards that stay here are not intimidated by weather. We even had folks point out that we were closed during the vortex! — Jo Goralski, The Jewelry Mechanic, Oconomowoc, WI
  • We call rainy days “diamond days.” We tend to be a little slower when the weather is nice and busier when the weather is not so nice. — Joel Wiland, J. David’s Jewelry, Broken Arrow, OK
  • Rainy days seem to lose us customers … and so do really hot days. — Wadeana Beveridge, Community Jewelry, Brandon, FL
  • After the dreary days of winter, our female customers come out when the sun begins to shine to make self-purchases. — Kristin Cornwell, Cornwell Jewelers, Athens, OH
  • Snow on the way? The sky must be falling because we can see a constant stream of people rushing into the grocery store next door. After the threat of bad weather, people are ready to shop again and we are always busy! — Teri Vogan, Vogan Gold & Silver Works, Colorado Springs, CO
  • Suddenly we had days of way-below zero temps. We had to close a couple of times, and then snowstorms! Hasn’t happened like this in a long time. It affected our sales from January into February! Tough to sell, but thanks to Facebook and Podium, we communicated with customers and made sales happen. — Julee Johnson, Julee’s Jewelry, Mankato, MN
  • Can’t figure weather’s effect on our customers. Some days when I figure, “No one is going out in this $%#@,” they show up. I have no handle on this one. — Cliff Yankovich, Chimera Design, Lowell, MI
  • If the sun is out in the winter, customers come in. I still have customers when the weather is not so good. Ice keeps them away. — Laura Pool, Laura’s Jewelry Designs, St. Robert, MO
  • The snow kills business here. As soon as a storm is announced, everyone goes out to the supermarket — you know people MUST stock up on food and provisions lest they be stuck inside for a day. — Marc Altman, B & E Jewelers, Southampton, PA
  • In the Pennsylvania area, snow means grocery, sunshine means outdoor planting, heat means pool, rain means we’re usually busy with repairs. — Judy Stanley, Skippack Jewelers, Harleysville, PA
  • The most beautiful Florida days usually bring shoppers to more pleasurable pursuits than visiting their jeweler. Me too; I’d rather be at a beach, river, etc. — Robert Young, Robert Young Jeweler Extraordinaire, Belleair Bluffs, FL
  • Snow makes people disappear, except when it’s close to Christmas. A few flakes are fine, but any chance it will accumulate, people turn into bears and hibernate until it’s over. — Gregory Fliegauf, Fliegauf Jewelers, Washington, NJ
  • Snow in December (or even November) definitely gets people thinking about the holidays and wanting to start their Christmas shopping … though if we’ve seen a big snowfall, it usually dampens business because clients head to the mountains to ski! Actually, good weather often has an inverse relationship with our business: it seems counter-intuitive, but because we’re such an active and outdoor community, when it’s really nice outside, our clients go hiking, fishing, camping, skiing, biking or boating. That’s why most live here! — Jennifer Hornik Johnson, Miller’s Jewelry, Bozeman, MT

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.

Over the years, INSTORE has won 76 international journalism awards for its publication and website. Contact INSTORE's editors at editor@instoremag.com.

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Buzz Session

Are Some Diamonds Still Overgraded? Here’s What Retailers Say

Our Brain Squad sounds off on diamond grading.

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We have consistently found that EGLUS NY’s grading is equal to GIA Carlsbad. I’ve submitted the same high grade diamonds to both institutions and the EGLUS grade has been more conservative on color and clarity, so I’ve seen them reach a parity on reliability (and the color grading is within ranges of my three colorimeters, Austron, Gran, and Sarin Colibri). However, there are of reports from other labs that are not graded to the same standards, and it is an issue. — Rex Solomon, Houston Jewelry, Houston, TX

  • No, every jeweler should base their grading scale on GIA. Theirs is the standard, and will be. Overgrading will still happen unless you’re a graduate gemologist or a GIA diamonds graduate. — Bruce Goodheart, Burnells Creative Gold, Wichita, KS
  • I think that the grading system is out of whack. Yet prices continue to rise, whether the diamonds are GIA or EGL. — Mary Jo Chanski, Hannoush Jewelers, Rutland, VT
  • I believe overgrading will always be a problem as long as the grading is done by human beings. I also believe that grading companies give the big diamond companies preferential treatment when they give them hundreds of diamonds at a time to grade for them! I took the GIA diamond grading course in 1980, and the guidelines we learned then are not the same as they grade now! — Frank Salinardi, Linardi’s Jewelers, Plantation, FL
  • It still exists as now people are trying to sell diamonds with insanely unrealistic appraisals. Have had several folks come in with appraisals from 10-plus years ago that say VVS1 when they should say I3… — James Doggett, Doggett Jewelry, Kingston, NH
  • We never had any direct blowback. However, we did stop promoting EGL lab reports. The disparity between GIA and EGL reports may have narrowed as a result of the negative publicity. The thought that the EGL is a “red-headed step-child” continues professionally, I believe. — J. Dennis Petimezas, Watchmakers Diamonds & Jewelry, Johnstown, PA
  • No, I think it’s been mostly solved. — Cathy McMurray, The Hunt House, Huntsville, ON
  • Good question. We sometimes see overgraded diamonds, but can stand by our GIA certified gemologist when a customer contests an appraisal. — Chay Rees Runnels, Rees Jewelry, Nacogdoches, TX
  • This isn’t Staples. I sell diamonds, not paper. — Casey Gallant, Stephen Gallant Jewelers, Orleans, MA
  • We feel it has not been properly addressed. You need to check them all, not relying only on the grading reports. I suppose you can only do that if you are familiar with diamond grading, though. — Meg Rankin, J. Rankin Jewellers, Edmonds, WA
  • It affects us when we have to update an older, wildly over-priced appraisal and then explain why their piece is actually “worth less” on the new paperwork. — Loann Stokes, Stokes Jewelry, Stillwater, MN
  • It seems to have been corrected for the most point. We still look to see what country the reports are coming from. There are still some areas that do not stick to the tight guidelines to insure correct grading. We examine all the diamonds we buy first and if we do not agree with the report, we do not show or buy the diamond. — Scott Kelly, Jems Jewels & Gold, North Wales, PA
  • What problem? — Craig C. Curtis, Belfast Jewelry, Belfast, ME
  • It’s still quite subjective, but the spread has become a bit tighter. We tend to stick to GIA, occasionally EGL. With the growth of our lab-grown diamond sales, this may become an a moot point. We are approaching 50 percent of our engagement sales as lab-grown. We don’t advertise this; it’s what the customer is requesting. — Mark Kasuba, M. Edward Jewelers, Pittsfield, MA
  • It will always be a problem; how you handle it will be what sets the tone for your store. There is still a lot of misinformation out there on grading and appraisals, and quite frankly, we all value things differently. Some of us prefer the best of the best, some of us prefer the middle of the road, which gives a balance of size, price, rarity, etc., and some of us prefer the biggest for our buck. We are salespeople. We are going to heavily weight what we value at the end of the day. That is what will steer the ship, and if you listen to the customer, you will meet their needs all while getting your two cents in! — Natasha Henderson, Saxon’s Fine Jewelers, Bend, OR
  • Yes, the long shadow of overrated EGL reports remains a stormy bone of contention in my business every day. Customers come in to sell diamonds that are overrated and overgraded with EGL reports. I have to show, a.k.a. prove to them by comparing master sets next to their stones, that they are not what the reports say. Unfortunately, delivering that kind of truth speech creates an uncomfortable tension in the room, but it is my duty as an honorable independent jeweler to explain to the customer why I cannot give them the value they think their stone is worth, even though they have an EGL certificate! The win here is often gaining the trust and respect of a new customer and creating a new design for the “charity stone.” There’s always something good in every unfortunate situation, you just have to stay positive, be very creative and help your customers find it! Then it is a win-win for everyone. — Denise Oros, Linnea Jewelers, La Grange, IL
  • We did not receive any problems at all. — Alex Weil, Martin’s Jewelry, Torrance, CA
  • Overgrading is rampant. It has become a game, and the online sellers are winning because of it, hands down. Even GIA certificates show crazy variations, but give a seller a chance to overgrade for extra profit, with no repercussions and little to no conscience, and the problem has exploded. Along with our suppliers selling online, the overgrading issue is resulting in the demise of brick-and-mortar stores. — David Blitt, Troy Shoppe Jewellers, Calgary, AB
  • No, not solved. It will always be an issue when “opinion” is how things are graded, just like figure skating. It’s getting better, but is still an issue. — Stacey Gelmici-Saunders, Gelmici Jewellers, Edson, AB
  • I was very outspoken in applauding Rap for taking that step. There is no shortage of overgraded diamonds in the marketplace. It has never affected me as a jewelry retailer because I am a trained gemologist and have taken ongoing coursework and diamonds for the better part of 30 years. It is our responsibility as jewelers to know how to grade a diamond, to know how to plot a diamond, and to make not only our customers but the public at large aware of diamond grading benchmarks and pitfalls. Given that the Internet educates people all about diamonds before these people even walk into our stores, any retailer who can’t see through an overblown cert and who doesn’t point out the pros and cons of said cert when presenting the diamonds doesn’t deserve to be in the business. — Andrea Riso, Talisman Collection, El Dorado Hills, CA
  • After 38 years in the industry, I do not think it has gotten better. Even with GIA, I think there is less consistency than it should be. I’ve had in my opinion SI2s graded I1s and I1s graded SI2s through GIA. Have even had yellow stones graded H and above on both GIA and EGL. I always tell my customers what I truly believe a stone should be, whether that’s what the cert says or not. — Newton Starnes, Newtons Fine Jewelry, Flowood, MS

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.

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Buzz Session

Best Ways to Give to Charities? Here’s What Our Brain Squad Says

Innovative practices include asking for charitable donations instead of charging for watch batteries.

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  • We get on average five requests a week. With every request, we thank them for thinking of us as we love to give and support our local charities and communities. We ask for a 90-day written notice. This eliminates about 95 percent of requests as they are usually last minute. Most of the charities that we partner with we have been with for years, but each year we set aside a certain dollar amount for the “add ons.” When our budget runs out, we explain how we budget our donations on an annual basis. It’s amazing how well this goes and the people that truly want to partner will go ahead and start working with you for the next year. At that point, anyone associated with that charity sees your involvement and support and you become not just part of their inner circle but the jeweler for the charity, and they promote you. — Joel Wiland, J. David’s Jewelry, Broken Arrow, OK
  • I have given gift certificates. Everyone appreciates them and it gets new people into the store. I don’t set a limit like “$100 off $500.” That’s a turnoff. Every gift certificate has been toward jewelry that’s much more than the face value of the certificate. It gets the name out and that’s important. I’ve given jewelry to charities, but I never see the customer come into the store. — Dale Robertson, Dale Robertson Jewelry, Loveland, OH
  • I think the most effective way of giving back to the community is by actually showing up. Don’t just give a piece of jewelry away; show up to the event and mingle. — Christopher Sarraf, Nuha Jewelers, Plainview, NY
  • I sit on several boards, chaired several events and have been on numerous nonprofit committees. The thought is, do you give time or treasure? I feel time has reaped the most financial advancement. We have given jewelry for numerous charity auctions, but it does not bring people through the door like the time I donate to many organizations. — Patty Gallun Hansen, Dorothy Gallun Fine Jewelry, Cedarburg, WI
  • We keep track of who asks for what, when and how well it was handled on both ends. If it was a good experience and we and the community benefitted, we continue to work with them yearly. We love these opportunities. It gets to the root of what we are trying to be … the neighborhood jeweler. — Ryan “Jr.” Karp, Cornerstone Jewelry, Palos Park, IL
  • We have found that concentrating on two larger fundraisers in a year seems to be successful for us. We will contribute our time, money, and jewelry toward those larger events. For all the additional asks that we receive, we have a donation request form that can be completed. From there, we hand-select qualifying charities that are doing great things in our community. — Allison Leitzel-Williams, Leitzel’s Jewelry, Myerstown, PA
  • We give gift certificates only. It’s a way to get a new customer into the store. — Brian Stubblefield, Hendersonville Jewelers, Hendersonville, TN
  • I give to schools locally and in the nearby area. I also donate jewelry and gift cards to all local fundraisers. — Diana Smires, Diana Smires Jewelry, Columbus, NJ
  • We ask our best customers to host a party in their favorite charity’s honor at our store. We invite the hostess’s besties and our best customers. We donate 10 percent of our entire weekend profits to the published charity (the party is on Thursday — we allow the sale special to run all weekend).
  • The donation is a direct result of the hostess’s effort and her friends’ response to the party invite. The better the hostess/hostesses, the better the party and donation.
  • We are only four years old, but giving back to our community is something many of our seasoned competitors still don’t do. — Elizabeth Kittell, Pretty In Patina, Omaha, NE
  • If it is not too expensive, I will support it. — Steve Wittels, Aljan Jewelers Ltd., Mahopac, NY
  • We have two drawers that are donated items. We give to most charities that request, and most are requesting an auction item, so we just pull an item from this stock (most are older items that just didn’t move or sell). We have a handful of charities to whom we donate larger items or give a gift card. — Kriss Roethlisberger, Ace of Diamonds, Mount Pleasant, MI
  • We give to almost every 501(c)(3) group that requests. Many years ago, we quit selling watch batteries and asked, instead, for donations. People generally give $5 to $20 and we’re raised over $75,000. This money goes to mostly local charities. Customers really like this! — Richard Frank, Goldstein’s, Mobile, AL
  • We judge the charity by what the people that need the help get out of it. There are a lot of groups that want things, but they are not always working the best for the people they say they want to help. Then you get people that just want help their family, and it is all about them. — Mark Brushert, JR Brushert Jewelers, Wausau, WI

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.

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Buzz Session

To Pay Commission Or Not to Pay Commission? That Is The Question

Here’s how our Brain Squad members pay their employees.

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  • Commissions only get paid if the employee’s wages plus the commission check is half or less than what the employee brought in for the month. And all bonuses are paid on the profit the employee brings in. It makes it easier for all involved. — David Dumas, Diamonds and Gold, Int., St. Louis Park, MN
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  • I believe in giving commissions for many reasons. I believe it can be used as a reward system as well as helping to establish an “owner mentality,” by encouraging them to develop relationships with customers. — Rita Wade, Wade Designs Jewelry, Rocky Mount, NC
  • We have a living wage guarantee for all employees and it is all the same. Commissions are the opportunity to earn what you deserve. I love paying the bonus because it shows the employee is working for our mutual good. — Russell Criswell, Vulcan’s Forge, Kansas City, MO
  • We do not have commission. We have team sales goals. If we meet our monthly goal then we all get a bonus. This encourages us to work as a team and sell as much as we can, together. — Erica Lorenz, Michael & Sons, Reno, NV
  • They have to make our baseline requirement for profitability before we distribute commissions. They can earn up to 3 percent commission, they can earn a bonus for selling a high-dollar item over $10,000, and the manager can earn additional perks. — Elizabeth Kittell, Pretty In Patina, Omaha, NE
  • No commissions. I pay a fair wage and everyone works as a team. Less conflict and happier customers without heavy-handed sales techniques. — John Hayes, Goodman’s Jewelers, Madison, WI
  • We have a profit sharing program that the sales staff gets monthly depending on total sales. This way, we do not get competition for a big customer. — Michael Halem, Halem & Co. de Sonoma, Sonoma, CA
  • Commission does not work for our store. I prefer to build in daily team incentives. If sales on given days meet or exceed our daily goal, every person who worked on that day receives the same bonus. Our bonuses are usually in-store credit that staff can spend as they wish, or accumulate for something substantial. The only stipulation is that it must be for the individual staff member to enjoy, not for gift purchases. — Laurelle Giesbrecht, French’s Jewellery, Wetaskiwin, AB
  • I don’t pay commissions; I pay monthly bonuses. Most of our sales are custom designs, which require a team effort between the designer, CAD artist, and diamond/gem specialist. We have monthly sales goals, and if we make them as a team, everyone receives a bonus. — Dianna Rae High, Dianna Rae Jewelry, Lafayette, LA
  • We pay commissions to some and not to others. We used to pay commissions to everyone, but that got buggered up so we went to salary only, and when the “issue” no longer worked full-time, we went back to paying commission. Our team is so great at working together that we hear most often, “No, you take it; it was your sale.” We just try to encourage that behavior! — Nicole Shannon, Keir Fine Jewelry, Whistler, BC
  • We pay commissions, but everyone has to play fair. I will revoke if someone is being nasty. — Amanda Lanteigne, Gold-n-Memories Ltd., Steinbach, MB
  • Will never do commissions, they are the worst thing you could do to a customer. — Craig C. Curtis, Belfast Jewelry Belfast, ME
  • We stopped commission when we saw it creating a nasty work environment for sales staff and customers’ needs with the right product being overlooked for the sake of trying to make money. We instead raised the salary/hourly wage and went to performance bonuses and saw a huge improvement in teamwork and getting the client the right solution. — Julie Terwiliger, Wexford Jewelers, Cadillac, MI
  • Employees are motivated by money. We pay between 3 percent and 6 percent commission. — Brian Goff, Goff Jewelers, Staten Island, NY
  • We did salary plus commission for 18 years but switched to salary base two years ago. It has gone well. Our sales staff still has goals, and we review monthly/quarterly to make sure that everyone is hitting their targets. — Valerie Naifeh, Naifeh Fine Jewelry, Oklahoma City, OK
  • We pay by the hour because my staff all do different things. I don’t feel it is fair to pay by commission when one key employee is often handling all the engraving jobs, thus not allowing her to be on the sales floor. We all work together without any competition. I do, however, have several items listed each month that we have a spiff for if sold. — Sue Parker, Nyman Jewelers, Excanaba, MI
  • I’m a sales guy at heart. I’m motivated by money (and lots of other things), so I LOVE to pay my employees a commission. — Travis Piper, Piper Diamond Co., Vincennes, IN

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.

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