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If I Owned

Erik Wahl Would Make His Jewelry Store Look Like a Film Set

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A typical jewelry store experience is what I’d call logical. Linear. In more tangible terms, it’s lifeless. I walk in, and nothing about it engages that part of me where wonder, risk and adventure dance about. Is there beauty? Sure. But my longing to explore it is not triggered. I know the defining trait of the beauty is a price tag. Every red banner propped on a counter or hanging from a ceiling tile reinforces the fact I hold in my left-brain that says, “This experience is a transaction. It’s about buying and selling.” I look with a number in my mind and my emotions numbed.

If I owned a store, I’d change that experience. Searching for a piece of jewelry should not be a logical, mathematical proposition. I don’t need to be told what my wife deserves or what I deserve. I don’t need to be reminded that ladies and diamonds are friends. I don’t need to be told what’s on sale.

What I need is to be ushered into a journey that leads me to a great discovery. I need to be invited into the captivating narratives that every piece of jewelry offers. Most who are shopping for diamonds don’t know how the rarest of rocks are actually formed. They don’t know that diamonds formed at or near the earth’s surface are the result of an asteroid or meteorite that has fallen from space, or a deep and violent volcanic eruption that forces them up through the earth’s layers at speeds of 20-30 miles per hour. These are events made for the big screen. And every gemstone has a similar genesis. So does every precious metal.

“Searching for a piece of jewelry should not be a logical, mathematical proposition.”

But that’s only the first scene. There are fascinating characters in the stories of every piece of jewelry as well. And we can all relate to them. Heroes and villains, guardians and mavericks, all hunting down the treasure often at great risk. Visionaries, artists, and conservators crafting the raw spoils into unique, polished pieces of art — redeeming their embattled, mysterious past. Each character plays a role in these narratives of redemption, including those who offer the final product.

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A jewelry retailer is a curator of so much more than a piece of metal and rock. He or she is a storyteller or, more accurately, a narrator.

If I owned a jewelry store, I’d dim the main lights, dump the glass counters, and burn all red signage. Entering the store would be more akin to walking onto a live film set with numerous scenes unfolding before me. I can choose the scene with which I will interact. I can meet the characters that intrigue me. I can shake the stained and calloused hand of the miner. I can peek over the shoulder of the pirate who aims to claim something he doesn’t own. I can watch the battle ensue and then hold the raw spoils — feel its sharp edges in my palm. I can feel the heat of the metal being forged. I can listen to the stone being cut and watch the shards fall. I can look through the eyes of the artist cobbling together a unique design. I can witness the polished stone being secured into place. Then I can hold the finished work of art.

That’s an entirely different story from what is being told in jewelry stores today. Which story is more appealing? The story of the ring that was painstakingly plucked and negotiated from among the four dozen other diamond rings within the glass box at Jennie’s Jewelers on Main Street? Or is it the story of the ring that was given birth by a violent, beautiful miracle … then fought for and won at great risk … then redeemed by craftsmen and artists?

Introduce me to the latter characters. Tell me the latter story. I will forget the number I once held in my mind. What I want, what every one of us wants, is to be invited into an adventure bigger than us … and then take a badge of that adventure home.

Erik Wahl is an internationally recognized graffiti artist, entrepreneur, and No. 1 best-selling author of Unthink: Rediscover Your Creative Genius. With his history as both a businessman and an artist, he has grown to become one of the most sought-after corporate speakers. Wahl’s on-stage painting seamlessly becomes a visual metaphor to the core of his message, encouraging organizations toward profitability through innovation and superior levels of performance. His list of clients includes AT&T, Disney, London School of Business, Microsoft, FedEx, Exxon Mobil, Ernst & Young, and XPrize. Visit theartofvision.com for more information.

Erik Wahl is an internationally recognized graffiti artist, entrepreneur and No. 1 best-selling author of Unthink: Rediscover Your Creative Genius. With his history as both a businessman and an artist, he has grown to become one of the most sought-after corporate speakers. Wahl’s on-stage painting seamlessly becomes a visual metaphor to the core of his message, encouraging organizations toward profitability through innovation and superior levels of performance. His list of clients includes AT&T, Disney, London School of Business, Microsoft, FedEx, Exxon Mobil, Ernst & Young and XPrize. Visit theartofvision.com for more information.

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This article originally appeared in the January 2014 edition of INSTORE.

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