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Jewelers Share Their Practical and Philosophical Approaches to Work and Life

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For New Year’s inspiration, we’ve collected and compiled words of wisdom from our readers. In the process, we caught Mark Clodius of Clodius & Co. in a philosophical mood. When he was recently asked about how Clodius & Co. became a success, he said he replied, “No regrets!”

“Of course, I have plenty of regrets,” he explains. “But everything that I have done, said or not, every experience good or bad, has brought me to a very special place, the place where I am today, and I am very thankful for that.”

When Dianna Rae High of Dianna Rae Jewelry looks for inspiration, Bible verses pop into her mind, she says, such as “Clothe yourself with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience” (Colossians 3:12).

Why are affirmations important? To some extent, we are what we think. Positive thinking can change our paths.

So take some time this month to think about the philosophy that drives you. Discover affirmations that resonate with you. Then set priorities and goals, make resolutions, and assemble to-do lists. 

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“Follow a moral compass,” says Emily Chapman Metzger, Chapman Jewelers, Warsaw, IN, who is inspired by this anonymous quote she found in a magazine: “A woman who holds true to the anchor of her moral compass is synonymous with a lighthouse. Ships come and go. Some are million dollar yachts, some are little rowboats, yet this woman of moral integrity stands firm. She may not get to the finish line as quickly as the cutthroat woman, but her growth is built on a solid, ethical foundation so it will outlast the other woman’s hands down.”

“Dream big. Treat others the way you would want to be treated. If you love what you do, you’ll never work a day in your life. If it was easy, everyone would do it.” — Christina Medawar, Medawar Jewelers, Lansing, MI

“Without talented, dedicated, creative people, you swim alone in the vast retail ocean that’s full of opportunity for failure. The people you surround yourself with help you keep it afloat and make it fun.” — Thomas Mann, Thomas Mann Gallery I/O, New Orleans, LA

“Why, of course we can do that for you while you wait!” — Mark Loren, Mark Loren Designs, Fort Myers and Naples, FL

“Extraordinary, never ordinary, is what jewelry should be, just like the customer.” — Britten Wolf, BVW Jewelers, Reno, NV

“Everything I needed to know about sales I learned as a bartender and waitress. I learned how to read people, adapt my personality to any situation and be comfortable talking to strangers.” — Mary Jo Chanski, Hannoush Jewelers, Rutland, VT

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“Life is what you make it. Control what you can, meaning you. Let go of what you can’t. And most importantly, have a ball. Every minute counts.” — Torsten Flaegel and Yaf Boye-Flaegel, Yaf Sparkle Jewelry Boutique, New York, NY

“Define what your brand is. Being consistent means working harder, investing more, and intentionally NOT doing something everyone else is doing.” — Dianna Rae High, Dianna Rae Jewelry, Lafayette, LA

“I often say ‘you have to have it in order to sell it’ or ‘go big or go home’ when I’m at a show making buying decisions. The second one has been known to get me into a bit of trouble.” — Ellen Hertz, Max’s, St. Louis Park, MN

“When a customer is rude, remember that their shoes might be too tight. (In other words, the problem might not be you, but other things on their mind.)” — Babs Noelle, Alara Jewelry, Bozeman, MT

“Put a positive spin on everything. It’s against the rules to say ‘I don’t know.’ Better to say, ‘Let me get you the expert in that department.’“ — Susan Eisen, Susan Eisen Fine Jewelry & Watches, El Paso, TX

“Kindness matters more than anything else.”  — Heather Hanst, Silverado, Bend, OR

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“Don’t use the numbers as your benchmark for success and security. Use your client loyalty and your repeat business.” — Deric Metzger, DeMer Jewelry, Carlsbad, CA

“Be really good at a few things. You won’t be good at everything.” — Dave Rabellino, Artful Eye Fine Jewelers, Prescott, AZ

“A great mentor told me you can’t go wrong if you go honest.” — Ira Kramer, The Diamond Exchange, Bethesda, MD 

“‘You are not here merely to make a living,’ Woodrow Wilson said. ‘You are here to enable the world to live more amply, with greater vision, and with a finer spirit of hope and achievement. You impoverish yourself if you forget this errand.’“ — Allison Leitzel-Williams, Leitzel’s Jewelry, Myerstown, PA

 

 

“Shared experience is the best business book out there. Open it! Take someone you admire out and start asking, how did you get here? What would you do differently? How are you preparing for the future? Now, shut up and listen!” — Denise Oros, Linnea Jewelers, LaGrange, IL

“Advice from a former employee, Jimmy Smith of Jimmy Smith Jewelers in Decatur, AL, stuck with me: ‘Never hold a nickel so close to your eye that you can never see the dollars behind it!’“ — Bill Longnecker, Longnecker Jewelery, McCook, NE 

“Yelp keeps me on track. Customer service is our keystone and I make sure to treat all clients like they are the most important.” — Cos Altobelli, Altobelli Jewelers, Burbank, CA 

“Believe in yourself, face your goals, and then fight as if your life depended on it.” — Tom Duma, Thom Duma Fine Jewelers, Warren, OH

“When a customer is upset, even if they are wrong, make it right no matter the cost.” — Richard Wilson, Wilson Diamonds, Provo, UT

“You must take in more money than you put out.” — Gary Youngberg, Ames Silversmithing, Ames, IA

“Other people will try to tell you how to run your business. Follow your gut and ignore their objections.” — Adam Langdon, Adam Michael Jewelry, Omaha, NE

“An old jeweler told me: `Don’t mind what the other jewelry stores in the town are doing, just focus on what you do best.’ it has worked for 35 years.” — Patty Wedemeier, Elegant Jewelers, Sugar Land, TX


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Texas Jeweler Knew He'd Get Only One Shot at a GOB Sale, So He Wanted to Make It Count

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Best of The Best

Cleveland Jewelry Store Wins Makeover from Jewelers for Children

Charitable giving yields rewards on many levels.

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ON A BUSY DAY THE week before Christmas, Howard’s Jewelry Center in an eastern suburb of Cleveland, is abuzz with activity. Customers come in waves all day, tracking down giant hoop earrings, a charm for a young granddaughter, or a seasonal splurge for themselves.

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Owner Howard Hurwitz hurries in for an appointment, stopping to exchange pleasantries with a customer he’s known for years, who congratulates him on the success of his business.

It’s a typical pre-Christmas week in many ways. Something’s different this year, though. Howard and Leslie Hurwitz have seen their store in a new light this season. So have their customers.

The couple won a $100,000 store makeover in a Jewelers for Children charitable giving contest, for which they raised $50,000. The renovation — the first significant change to the store in 30 years — was complete in December. “Customers are all pleasantly surprised,” Howard says. “We are very pleased and happy for everything that everyone did for us.”

One of the biggest changes is how drastically brighter everything is with fresh paint, new in-case displays and LED lighting.

Howard and Leslie own four stores in the Cleveland metropolitan area, and had been passionate supporters of Jewelers for Children ever since their first Facets of Hope dinner in Las Vegas touched their hearts 20 years ago.

There, they heard children talk about their struggles with catastrophic diseases and how they were helped by St. Jude’s Research Hospital, one of the charities JFC supports. “I’d like to get more people involved in it,” says

Howard, now a board member. “And I think if they could get to one of these dinners and hear the kids’ stories, they’d be a donor for life.”

JFC is woven into the fabric of their business. In all, they’ve raised $200,000 for the organization with collection canisters on their counters. The couple promotes JFC in their advertising and suggests their customers make a donation for watch batteries and other small repairs they offer for free.

For the redo, the Hurwitzes chose their Maple Heights flagship location, a busy place in a high-traffic area that sells jewelry and also makes loans on jewelry. Although they’ve occupied the space for 30 years, there have been few changes in that time.

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The design team carefully considered which updates would bring the biggest bang for the buck.

Eric Zuckerman of sponsor Pac Team America says the goal was to make the buying experience comfortable, special and intimate. “You can take an old store that hasn’t been touched for 30 years and do some things to make it very fresh and inviting. Environment creates confidence. If the environment is not at the same level of the product and the training of the salesperson, that inconsistency will be felt. Simple and clean and presentable doesn’t have to be a major renovation.”

Zuckerman and Ruth Mellergaard of GRID/3 International agree that the improvements with the biggest impact were replacing the ceiling tiles and upgrading the overhead track lighting to LED bulbs.

“The ceiling tiles were in pretty bad shape and set the tone for the entire environment,” Zuckerman says. “Something as simple as their replacement alone made a big improvement. Same thing with adding case lighting and replacing their bridal in-case presentation. What was there was very dark and worn, which contributed to the entire store appearing worn out. New case pads and displays gave a fresh look that was visually impactful.”

A metal security gate near the threshold was an inhospitable eyesore by day, but a necessity by night. Now, thanks to a design by GRID/3 International, the gate is enclosed in new drywall partitions with flush detailed doors that completely conceal it when the store is open for business.

“When you walk into a retail environment, being greeted by what is essentially a metal fence is not ideal for establishing a warm shopping experience,” Zuckerman says. “Having them hidden while the store is open allowed them to serve their purpose without detracting from the store’s presentation.”

Ruth Mellergaard of GRID/3, who donated her time to the project, says the question she asked before beginning to outline an overall plan was, “How does the business work and how can we make it easier for them to deal with their customers, to make their customers feel wonderful?”

Heavy wooden chairs were replaced by modern chairs with a lighter profile to bring the diamond engagement area into the 21st century, and designated spots for a children’s corner and a custom refreshment station for coffee are designed to put customers at ease.

The interior and exterior have been freshly painted.

Many of the showcases were in good shape, but some didn’t match, so their fronts as well as the front of the service counter were updated with panels covered with 3M Di-Noc film, which changed their appearance completely.

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Brand Portfolio

Kentucky’s EAT Gallery Aims to Feed the Soul

Brand identity tied to neon sign.

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MAYSVILLE, KY, IS A PICTURESQUE town of about 9,000 on the banks of the Ohio River. For much of the 20th century its downtown was home to Morgan’s restaurant, a popular diner with a classic neon sign that spells out EAT.

When it became a jewelry gallery, new owners Simon and Laurie Watt kept the sign, lost the food and gained an eclectic collection of art, jewelry and other treasures. In its current incarnation, EAT stands for Exquisite Art Treasures. The owners showcase one-of-a-kind pieces from jewelers around the world and create natural stone and pearl jewelry in-house. It’s an unusual but distinctive brand identity for a jewelry store. “New people in town get confused and we do get the occasional person who comes in and looks around and says, ‘Isn’t this a restaurant?’ But overall, it’s a clever play on a vintage sign. The name does a lot for us. It makes people curious,” says manager Katherine Cotterill.

The store’s tagline, appropriately enough, is “EAT Gallery: We feed your soul.”

Maysville is not far from Lexington, KY, and just about an hour east of Cincinnati, OH, which has a thriving art community. So to reach the artsy denizens of Cincinnati, they’ve targeted independent movie houses that show foreign films and other independent films for a marketing campaign. Movie-theater advertising brings in more potential customers than anything else they’ve tried. Cotterill created a 15-second video showing actual products available at EAT Gallery that runs before every movie.

Advertising on National Public Radio takes the form of sponsorship and offers some information on the history of the building and “the business that houses jewelry and treasures from around the world,” Cotterill says.

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Manager Katherine Cotterill, left, organized a contest called Thankful For, in which customers were invited to share what they were thankful for and why. The winner was given an original painting. Other contest winners have been awarded swag bags.

The Sign

The name EAT Gallery (Exquiste Art Treasures) comes from the neon sign (pictured above) that has hung on the front of the building for over 60 years.

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Glossy postcards for trunk shows and special events feature beautiful photographs of jewelry found in the store. Cotterill, who once worked for a Maysville portrait photographer and took some photojournalism classes in college, also handles most of the store’s product photography in-house using a lightbox and lamps she stores in the gallery’s basement.

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Influencer Danielle Mielle visited EAT Gallery as part of Gem Gossip’s jewelry road trip series.

Theater Program

Maysville has a group called Maysville players, the oldest continuing theater group in the state. “We do a big glossy full page in all of their programs. We definitely stick to very artsy kind of organizations and groups, because all of the jewelry is handmade. When they leave with something, they have a story,” says Cotterill.

Packaging

EAT Gallery’s bags are likely to bring comments and boost brand visibility wherever they go.

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America's Coolest Stores

Grace-Themed Jewelry Gallery Reaches Out To Santa Fe

Creative decor stops shoppers in their tracks.

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Wear Your GRACE, Santa Fe, NM

OWNER: Hillary Fitzpatrick Randolph; FOUNDED: 2015; URL: wearyourgrace.com; BUILDOUT COST: $39,650; EMPLOYEES: 5, full and part-time; AREA: 650 square feet; TOP BRANDS: Owner’s GRACE pieces and Etkie (contemporary hand-loomed bracelets crafted by Native American artisans)


ONE DEFINITION OF “GRACE” is simple elegance. Another is refined movement. The word is also associated with the bestowal of blessings.

Artist and designer Hillary Randolph takes a creative approach to exploring the nuanced meanings of “grace” as the theme for her brand and her Santa Fe store, wear your GRACE. She also established “Share Your Grace,” a multifaceted program that benefits Santa Fe’s community, including its nonprofit organizations.

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Choosing grace as her theme triggers interesting conversations and builds meaningful rapport with clients, she says, who share what grace means in their own lives.

Randolph designed her Santa Fe store based on her aesthetic sense of what grace looks and feels like — warm and inviting with a dash of elegant simplicity. She opened her gallery in 2015 in a 250-year-old adobe building on Palace Avenue in the heart of Santa Fe, just off the historic plaza. Her jewelry emphasizes graceful flowing movement. Much of the work is developed upstairs in the design studio.

Her approach to interior design is hands on.

A unique orb light fixture is an eye-catching element near the entrance. Randolph created it from a grapevine she found in Round Top, TX, that had been steamed, coiled, shaped into an openwork globe and re-dried. She took it home, painted the bottom of it with gold leaf and hung from it 100-year-old faceted crystal drops from France. The table below is also painted with gold leaf so it appears as if the crystals are dripping gold. It complements the interior design, with its gold-on-white palette and a trompe l’oeil tangerine curtain painted by a local artist across the back wall. The curtain painting creates a sense of flowing movement and acts as a backdrop for casually luxurious décor.

“The best decisions I have ever made came from feelings, instincts and hunches, rather than spreadsheets, schematics and trend forecasts. I’ve learned to make business decisions according to how I want my life to feel. The unique look of the gallery came from the feeling I get from certain colors, combinations and materials. I want my guests to feel as inspired by the store’s ambience as I do.”

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“I hear people talk about the experience they have when they walk in,” she says. “The product is an offshoot of the experience.”

Randolph’s approach to sales is to honor each customer’s personal sense of style, wardrobe and lifestyle in general. “It’s our passion to truly connect with women from all walks of life, listening to their stories and encouraging self-expression through their jewelry,” she says. “So we connect, we listen and we always have fun.”

Although shopping in Santa Fe is a favorite pastime of tourists, more and more of Randolph’s regular clients live in town. So marketing is increasingly local as well, with in-store events and email campaigns. This year she plans to feature the “faces of Grace” in her marketing and discover what “grace” means to her clients to make her social-media marketing more interactive.

Another goal is to spend less time on paperwork upstairs in her office and more time downstairs in the gallery, being the ambassador of her brand.

Randolph’s career started in Palm Beach in luxury goods followed by a move to New York, where she worked with Ralph Lauren in his flagship Madison Avenue store. Other luxury brand retailers recruited her to develop their wholesale brands and open brick-and-mortar stores across the United States.

In 1999, she visited her mother in Santa Fe and never left.

“I never thought I would stay, and then I saw the moon rise over the ski basin and it was the biggest moon I’d ever seen in my life,” she recalls. “There was a certain connection with people from all over the country that I found here. I had conversations with them here that I would never have if I were sitting next to them at a dinner table in New York. There is a certain veil that is removed here, an authentic connection that feeds me.”

She launched her jewelry-design career in 1999 with Somers, a line based on the sculptures of her creative partner that was sold in galleries and jewelry stores around the country. Later, the idea for Grace took shape.

“Even today,” she says, “there are things I’m still discovering. A new hike, people, artists. It’s not boring here. There’s always something to feed you.”

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She has found the business climate friendly, as well. Santa Fe, she discovered is the No. 1 spot in the U.S. per capita for women-owned businesses.

She finds inspiration for design in Santa Fe, as well. “I design in my head so when I’m on that hike the best design pops into my head,” she says, “If I’m just sitting there with the stones it doesn’t work as well.”

Randolph believes in being an active part of her community by creating a business model that gives back. She is a founding member of Santa Fe’s 100 Women Who Care, a group that meets quarterly to learn about and donate to a charity that the group selects.

Share your GRACE also holds invitation-only sales events throughout the year, during which a portion of net proceeds benefit non-profit organizations while boosting Randolph’s philanthropic profile in the community.

Randolph is certain she’s where she’s supposed to be — both literally and figuratively.

“I am living proof that if you choose to make decisions from your heart and persevere, you will never look back,” she says. “Creating GRACE has given me more connection, has inspired other women to embrace their entrepreneurial spirit and has led to deeper relationships with my clients all due to my own personal decision to choose GRACE as this next chapter of my life.”

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Five Cool Things About Wear Your GRACE

1. Practical magic. Randolph is focusing on gemstones and custom-creating talismans using labradorite and rose quartz. They’re marketed as being an essential element of everyday protection. “Being in Santa Fe with all of our ‘woo woo,’ people love it,” Randolph says. The jewelry line that I am creating is the core things we need as women to feel safe, protected, guided, grounded, but it’s also an individual connection.”

2. The canine experience. Just outside the store’s entrance is the most popular “Dog Bar” in town, complete with treats tucked inside a mailbox over a trompe l’oeil of splashing water from a faux-spigot. Four-legged friends may quench their thirst in cool H2O. Pet owners peek in with an amused smile as they view candy colored leather dog leashes and collars engraved with “Walk with GRACE. Sales help support animal rescue groups.

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3. Versatility behind the scenes. The second floor is the atelier, where the jewelry is designed and made from cast components. “I have used the space for open houses, gallery night on Fridays, and featured a painter here with her larger work upstairs,” Randolph says. “So it is a working studio, but also a social space. Or I’ll have a client come up and we’ll collaborate to remake something. Just minutes after a design is completed upstairs, it can be displayed on the floor.”

4. Guest stars. Randolph loves collaborating with artists she’s met on her travels, so she regularly features jewelry by guest designers and hosts events promoting other artwork she loves.

5. Coco’s Bangles. The wear your GRACE collection includes best-selling Coco’s Bangles, designed by Hillary’s teenage daughter, Coco. Coco donates a portion of the proceeds of sales to the Heart & Soul Animal Sanctuary outside Santa Fe.

JUDGES’ COMMENTS
  • Sofia Kaman: I love seeing a business that embraces fun, whimsy and a sense of happiness in all that they do. The dog bar is a brilliant touch!
  • Jimmy DeGroot: I love the concept and the business model.
  • Lyn Falk: Great website. Clever and sophisticated. Unique name and use of the name in marketing. Interior and exterior are well done — distinct, savvy, artsy with touches of whimsy. Unique displays pushed the envelope in terms of a typical retail experience. More like a gallery. Hillary appears to exude charm!
  • Tiffany Stevens: This is a beautiful store! The exterior encapsulates the rich history of Santa Fe while the interior is modern and unique.
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