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Lauren Priori puts focus on collaborative culture.



L. Priori Jewelry, Washington, DC

OWNER: Lauren Prior; STORE DESIGN: D2 Design Group, Philadelphia; CUSTOM SHOWCASES: Laurel Architectural Millwork; ONLINE PRESENCE: 249 5-Star Google reviews; 1,400 Facebook followers; FOUNDED: 2016; Opened featured location: 2021; AREA: 1,800 square feet; EMPLOYEES: 22

Lauren Priori

Lauren Priori

LAUREN PRIORI SAYS that before she opened her first jewelry store, there had been times she’d felt like she’d rather be in a (minor) car accident than show up for some of her jobs.

But Priori, who studied management at The Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania, learned from those experiences. She analyzed the reasons behind those feelings, considering how her managers affected her job satisfaction, as well as how good a fit the job was for her in the first place.

Priori, a GIA graduate gemologist, put what she learned to good use when, in 2016, she left Philadelphia’s Jeweler’s Row to start a new kind of jewelry company with a priority on leadership. With a female-driven brand, strong and compassionate leadership, and an appointment-only sales structure, the company has experienced over 10 times sales growth since its inception.

Priori found that as much as she loves jewelry, she may enjoy managing people even more. “It was something I was always interested in, I was always reading books about it, thinking about what motivates people,” she says. “I’m interested in being collaborative, being a team, working with people on whatever it is.

“I’m a very calm, grounded person; no one here has ever heard me yell!”

She takes time to nurture that collaborative spirit in her three stores by being as responsive as possible.


“I think I have stayed in tune with people’s needs, which is a full-time job,” she says. “If someone is starting to say they are overwhelmed, I’ll work on getting help in that department quickly. We do reviews every quarter, in-depth, about what’s going on, how they’re feeling about their work, about their boss, about me, and I make sure people take vacation.

“We are so, so lucky to have incredibly low turnover — less than 5% — among our Gen Z and millennial team,” she says. “We treat our team as if they’ll be here for the long run, and so far, it has worked. We have become creative with benefits, like unlimited vacation time and using a short-term disability plan to offer maternity leave, that are not always available in the retail world.”

Unlimited vacation policy is a perk that has yet to be abused by her staff. “If their manager approves it, they can take the time off,” she says.

“There’s no hard limit. Most people take a month off. If you start getting to eight weeks that would start to feel excessive. I have had people get married and go on their honeymoon and take three weeks off in a row. The team loves it, so they make it work for each other.”

She enjoys celebrating wins, big and little, with her team. The first year they hit $1 million in sales, she hosted a team party on a rooftop.

She celebrates each team member’s workiversaries with jewelry gifts.

Sales team members previously worked in a variety of occupations, including as a teacher, a high-end restaurant server, and a wedding dress salesperson. “When hiring, we look for traits you can’t teach: warm personalities, an eye for design, and A+ communication skills,” Priori says.

Philadelphia-Based Jeweler Creates Collaborative Culture

Architectural charm lends the Georgetown location a residential feel. “It’s so cute in here!” visitors say.

Once hired, new salespeople go through a structured four-week training program before working with clients.

Priori also holds quarterly team training sessions on handling jewelry trade-ins, customer service, taking in repairs, and differentiating between moissanite, lab-grown diamonds and cubic zirconia. She sends team members to off-site trainings too, including for GIA coursework, New

Approach stone setting classes, and the Stuller Bridge conference.

Priori grew the company with a by-appointment business model that allows for smart inventory and staffing levels. Each customer signs up for 90 minutes one-on-one with a sales associate, uninterrupted by other clients or a noisy showroom floor. They’re able to view diamonds and other gemstones that have been specially selected in advance of the appointment.

“From our perspective, we know that each lead is hot, and in turn our closing rate is very high,” Priori says. “It also makes staffing much easier; if a salesperson wants to take a vacation, it’s no problem at all. They just close their appointment calendar for that week.

“I am certain that we miss out on sales by not being on the ground floor or taking walk-ins, but the enhanced customer and team experience (and lower overhead) are worth it.”

L. Priori Jewelry went from sharing desk space in a small Philadelphia studio to operating three locations, its latest in Washington D.C.’s Georgetown neighborhood.

The Georgetown location is in a 19th century townhouse with a painted brick façade and inviting brick courtyard. “It has a hidden garden feel to it, just kind of tucked away,” Priori says. “It’s a cute, charming little place.” Other than moving a wall and adding security infrastructure, all that needed to be added were furniture and custom showcases.


Visitors immediately feel at home with the space’s warm architectural character. “Seconds after our front door opens, we hear our clients’ voices carry, ‘Oh my gosh; it’s so cute in here!’ Wooden floors, brick walls and fireplace, and original wooden beam posts are all qualities that bring a residential feel into a shopping environment.

Clients enter the first-floor showroom, where they find comfortable seating and a selection of jewelry displayed in custom cases made by Laurel Architectural Millwork.

The second floor is designed for custom appointments with plush seating and other amenities. “We like our clients to be comfortable while planning out and designing their jewelry investments; rather than the harsh lighting and constant standing of a more traditional jewelry showroom, we have our clients nestled into cozy seating in our appointment rooms, basking in natural light and plenty of plants.

“With the warm and friendly feel of our jewelry studio also comes the warm personalities of our staff. We love that our clients leave feeling confident in their jewelry purchases, but also like they just left a friend’s house.”

Philadelphia-Based Jeweler Creates Collaborative Culture

Word of mouth recommendations generate much of the new business. When it comes to the marketing budget, nearly every dollar is spent on digital.

Five Cool Things About L. Priori Jewelry

1. INSTAGRAM PRESALE. “On Instagram, we do a presale for every new product launch,” Priori says. “If we drop new pieces on a Monday, the previous Friday we will preview each piece in our Instagram stories with an offer for 15% off; early birds get a discount and a one-of-a-kind piece of jewelry that they love. Pieces under $1,000 do particularly well during presales, especially estate jewels.”

2. BY THE NUMBERS. L. Priori Jewelry was ranked No. 1,650 on the 2022 Inc. 5,000 list of fastest-growing private companies in America. In 2022, Lauren was named to Jewelers of America’s 20 Under 40 list, a recognition program that celebrates young professionals who exemplify innovation, leadership skills and a commitment to elevating jewelry retail.

3. ONLY ONLINE ADS. The vast majority (95%) of the marketing budget goes toward digital ads. Social and Google ads are especially helpful because the team can track exactly which medium is driving appointments in each market. They switch up the ads every month to keep things fresh, engaging and relevant. This is supplemented by an occasional influencer event. “I don’t do a ton of awareness marketing,” Priori says. “I’m more interested in conversion and what can be tracked.”


4. THE FOCUS ON MANAGING WELL. “Our culture is one of autonomy, accountability and flexibility. I hire personalities, not skills, knowing that the right people can learn about diamonds – but the wrong people can’t learn flexibility or work ethic. Managing well is a lot of work — weekly one-on-ones, celebrating workversaries, etc — but it’s the single most important thing I do. If you’re not a people person, make sure your manager is.”

5. THE NATURAL QUESTION. Priori believes in giving customers what they want. A little less than half are choosing natural diamonds but she says the overwhelming interest in lab-grown diamonds may be waning. “I don’t want to say the tide is fully turning, but we have seen people starting to be a little more interested in natural,” she says. “Lab-grown pricing is all over the place and they have gotten so cheap that they don’t feel special. It’s still confusing for clients.”


  • JESSE BALAITY:: It’s a living room where you happen to buy jewelry, and that is a refreshing, engaging counterpoint to the typical jewelry store. I preach to jewelers: sell what sells, drop the rest. It’s easier said than done, especially for full-service larger stores. But for those who commit and specialize, the customer experience can be so rewarding.
  • JACKIE BROOKS:Congrats on the quick growth and scale. Incredible for a business founded in 2016.
  • GABRIELLE GRAZI: : Hidden gem. By appointment only makes it feel exclusive and private, yet once inside, the environment looks inviting and warm. Branding is in the details and they have nailed it from the showroom design down to the beautiful packaging. Kudos for TikTok and Pinterest channels!
  • LARRY JOHNSON:The appointment-only approach is obviously working well and the environment Lauren Priori has created supports that strategy well.
  • REBECCA RAU:The female empowerment component of this business story and model is compelling. It is also refreshing to see a young business thriving and growing — all while appealing to a slightly different demographic than most of the applicants.
  • MEG TERRY:The warmth that the existing building provides against the fixtures is refreshing. It is a lovely simplicity that truly makes this space a hidden gem.


Try This: Start A Book Club

Start a leadership book club with your team to read Dale Carnegie or Harvard Business School books. Talk about the concept as it applies to your teams and leadership. “It gives you an excuse, a way to talk about leadership and management topics without being so direct,” Priori says.



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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