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Best of The Best

Jeweler’s Best Ideas Stand the Test of Time

Here are some of our favorite “Best of the Best” subjects from the last 20 years of INSTORE.

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JEWELRY RETAILERS ARE a creative bunch, especially when it comes to marketing, events and promotions, which are often the focus of our popular Best of the Best department, a regular feature of INSTORE. Here are just a few of our all-time favorite (and timeless) ideas pulled from our archives in honor of INSTORE’s 20th anniversary.

Louise Rogers created an avid tribe of collectors around Trollbeads activities.

Louise Rogers created an avid tribe of collectors around Trollbeads activities.

February 2012: Roger’s Gallery Trollbeads Fest

As owner of Rogers Gallery in Mattapoisett, MA, Louise Rogers built a global community of Trollbeads fans and celebrated them by hosting an annual Trollbeads Fest in her store and local civic center. She sold and marketed the charms as individual works of art, an approach that appealed to customers, who became die-hard collectors and propelled her to become a top Trollbeads dealer. An e-commerce site and lively fan forum led to an annual weekend event that felt like a family reunion. Festivities included a cocktail party, a silent auction, education, a boat cruise and the opportunity to meet Trollbeads designers from Denmark. The takeaway: Become an enthusiastic expert and brand ambassador no matter what you sell. Shoppers will seek you out.


Contestants in the Borsheims Diamond Dig search for buried treasure.

Contestants in the Borsheims Diamond Dig search for buried treasure.

March 2012: The Diamond Dig

It took less than 20 minutes for 200 women to dig up $5,000 worth of diamond jewelry buried in an Omaha, NE, Stormchasers baseball field, as groundskeepers cringed and fans cheered. The annual Diamond Days promotion was invented by Borsheims of Omaha. Before the game started, Borsheims personnel buried jewelry boxes in the field; after the game was over, the digging began. Entrance was free, but for a donation to Big Brothers/Big Sisters, participants also got an ice cream scoop to make digging easier. Every digger got a free “Borsheims: Can you dig it?” T-shirt. The takeaway: Every year they did the promotion, they sold more diamond studs. It also associated the brand with a fun and memorable evening.

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Jeweler’s Best Ideas Stand the Test of Time

January 2013: Most Valuable Proposal

Partnering with the local network TV affiliate airing the Super Bowl, Bremer Jewelry of Peoria, IL, scored big publicity points with a Most Valuable Proposal contest that helped a local couple get engaged live on air during halftime. Leading up to the event, people visited the TV station’s website to vote for their favorite ring while men were invited to explain why they’d like to win a ring. The winner was notified the Monday before the big game, at which time he taped his proposal. On Super Bowl Sunday, a TV crew showed up where the winner was watching the game and captured the reaction as the televised proposal aired, then — to build suspense and ratings — the TV station told its audience to tune in “tonight at 10” to hear her reply. The takeaway: Sports appeal to everyone of all ages, and a football-themed promotion offered Bremer Jewelry a chance to gain fans among men and women alike.


Jeweler’s Best Ideas Stand the Test of Time

January 2014: Love in the Hills

Stephenie Bjorkman, owner of Sami Fine Jewelers in Fountain Hills, AZ, spearheaded a community-wide vow-renewal event for Valentine’s Day 2013, to be called Sami’s Love in the Hills. She recruited a minister, a florist, a DJ and a photographer and secured the site of Fountain Hills Park, a favorite spot for local weddings. A news helicopter flew over the event, as if it were stalking a celebrity wedding. Local anchors wore Sami Fine Jewelry pieces during promo segments for the event. Sami Fine Jewelry also designed wedding bands to commemorate the event. In all, 762 couples renewed their vows, including the mayor of Fountain Hills and her husband. The takeaway: “I could never advertise enough to get the goodwill that we generated,” Bjorkman said.


Jeweler’s Best Ideas Stand the Test of Time

May 2018: The Message in a Bottle

Wes Skinner, a college student who is also a spearfishing commercial fisherman, found a bottle bobbing in the Gulf of Mexico that contained the remarkable message that he had won a prize from Mark Loren Designs. When he brought his message to the jewelry store, he discovered it was redeemable for a 1.90 carat round brilliant diamond valued at more than $10,000. On Feb. 12, Mark Loren, owner of Mark Loren Designs in Fort Myers, FL, had helicoptered along the coastline and dropped three bottles, each with messages, as a promotion for Valentine’s Day. Two bottles contained $2,500 gift certificates valid for any purchase or services. The third held a certificate for the diamond that Skinner claimed. Loren had expected the bottles to wash up on the beach, but easterly winds pushed them out to sea. The takeaway: Try something romantic, dramatic and unexpected.


Kori Kline says “yes” to a surprise proposal that became a commercial for Smyth Jewelers.

Kori Kline says “yes” to a surprise proposal that became a commercial for Smyth Jewelers.

December 2018: Smyth’s Viral Video

Kori Kline, a former Baltimore Ravens cheerleader, had appeared in two commercials for Baltimore’s Smyth Jewelers in character as a wedding guest and a maid of honor. She then got a call from the ad agency working with Smyth and learned she would be cast as a bride-to-be for the next one. When she arrived for the shoot, the director told her that the actor who would play her boyfriend was stuck in traffic and they’d be ready to shoot as soon as he arrived. So when — instead of a harried actor — her real-life boyfriend, Zach Sullivan, appeared on the set bearing a ring box, she was stunned. He proposed during filming and the answer was “yes.” Smyth used the video as a TV commercial. The takeaway: The video quickly racked up more than 17,000 views within a few weeks in a market where Kline’s connection to the Ravens made her a local celebrity.


Jeweler’s Best Ideas Stand the Test of Time

May 2019: The Murder Mystery

Lynnette Solomon, special events coordinator at MJ Miller & Co. in Barrington, IL, decided she needed to make trunk shows more fun and interactive. She spent a year writing a murder mystery and pitched it to owner Michael J. Miller as a way to create drama around jewelry designer Victor Velyan’s two-day visit. Customers, along with team members and Velyan himself, were assigned roles; each character wore jewels from Velyan’s collection, and each was teamed up with a staff member so they received personal attention. The takeaway: Find a way to elevate the in-store experience and add excitement to trunk shows.

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Jeweler’s Best Ideas Stand the Test of Time

January 2009: Speed Dating

When R.S.V.P., a regional magazine, wrote a series of articles on speed dating, Marquirette’s Exquisite Jewelry in Montgomery, AL, decided to give it a shot in their own store and partnered with the magazine to promote it. Forty five people participated. The takeaway: Jewelry stores can be daunting places. Warm up yours by making it a place for a community to mingle and munch. And of course, any speed dater who fell in love would know exactly where to buy the engagement ring.


Lee Krombholz created a ring featured on a TV show.

Lee Krombholz created a ring featured on a TV show.

September 2011: “Extreme Makeover” Custom Ring

Lee Krombholz of Krombholz Jewelers in Cincinnati, OH, was approached about creating a ring for India Dickinson, the wife of U.S. Marine Bill Dickinson, in an episode of ABC’s “Extreme Makeover: Home Edition.” The family were chosen to receive a new house while Dickinson was deployed in Afghanistan. Bill regretted that he had never been able to give India an engagement ring, so the TV team asked Krombholz to design and create a ring. The diamond ring was accented with birthstones representing the family’s six children, and presented during the show to India’s delight. The takeaway: Enter jewelry design contests and promote awards. Krombholz says he landed this opportunity because he had put time and effort into developing a reputation as an award-winning designer.


October 2010: Free Valentine’s Day Gifts

Debbie and George Fox, owners of Fox Fine Jewelry in Ventura, CA, realized the extent of their customers’ financial suffering during the Great Recession, when they started bringing in sentimental, heirloom pieces to sell — sometimes in tears. By January, unemployment in California had reached 10 percent and Debbie realized many Ventura residents wouldn’t be able to buy Valentine’s Day gifts. She decided to give away silver necklaces and inspired retailers in multiple states to join the effort. The takeaway: Consistent outreach to the community in times of trouble ensures people will remember you when fortunes improve.

Eileen McClelland is the Managing Editor of INSTORE. She believes that every jewelry store has the power of cool within them.

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Celebrate Your Retirement with Wilkerson

For nearly three decades, Suzanne and Tom Arnold ran a successful business at Facets Fine Jewelry in Arlington, Va. But the time came when the Arnolds wanted to do some of the things you put off while you’ve got a business to run. “We decided it was time to retire,” says Suzanne, who claims the couple knew how to open a store, how to run a store but “didn’t know how to close a store.” So, they hired Wilkerson to do it for them. When she called, Suzanne says Wilkerson offered every option for the sale she could have hoped for. Better still, “the sale exceeded our financial goals like crazy,” she says. And customers came, not only to take advantage of the going-out-of-business buys and mark-downs, but to wish a bon voyage to the beloved proprietors of a neighborhood institution. “People were celebrating our retirement, and that was so special,” says says.

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