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Rough Edges, Inclusions and Fractures Add Their Own Beauty to Gemstones, Writes This Designer

A gemstone fresh from the earth can be mesmerizing in itself.

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BEING IN TUCSON during the gem shows in February is magical. Gem lovers, addicts and hoarders descend on the city with great expectations. We are all looking for our fix, and Tucson provides for us all with the perfect gem.

But what does that mean to you?

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It’s not like I can’t appreciate a perfectly cut flawless gemstone; they have their place. However, often, something like a flawless piece of Sleeping Beauty turquoise looks plastic to me, kind of like a beauty queen — pretty, but not all that interesting. I like a rock with experience! Some wisdom, fractures and veins. A scar, heartbreak and history. A stone that took an unusual path and carved its own groove despite the setbacks.

For the longest time, I thought I was alone. When I began working with raw crystals, “freeform” cuts, or heavily fractured and included stones, I didn’t get the best reception. Most of the time, people would say, “Oh. Um. Interesting.”

And we all know what that means. I had a handful of clients that sought me out. We were a fringe tribe; I loved them for “getting” what I was doing.

One of my favorite scores in Tucson was a strand of pale blue/green beryl crystals, heavily included with tufts of iron oxide. They were beautiful, simple with interesting natural edges. Each crystal was perfect on its own. Then, I managed to hit a home run! When I moseyed on over to see my favorite Italian cutter, I found he’d discovered the same vein from the same mine in Brazil, only this stuff was beautifully cut. I incorporated them together in a couple of necklaces: one for a special client, and the other one for me!

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Things are turning around. Last year, at one of the Tucson shows, an influential buyer took me aside and said, “We are looking for jewelry that looks like it’s been dug from the earth.” Music to my ears!

Speaking of music, the whole raw unrefined thing applies to more than gemstones. It’s instinctual for most of us. Primal. In an interview with the Canadian Broadcasting Corp. a couple of years before his death, Tom Petty said that after he saw the Rolling Stones, he was inspired to go for it. “They were grittier [than the Beatles]; it was rawer. They were playing blues in this really energetic kind of raw way, but it wasn’t complicated. There wasn’t a lot of beautiful harmony involved.”

Gemstones and jewelry trends are indicators for our lives. The fact is, some of us want to go dig. Down to the primal part of being human. We crave that delicious, raw, watermelon tourmaline crystal slice with the rough edges. Dug from the earth.

Editor’s note: To view the jewelry referenced by Ksionda above, visit instr.us/lydia

Lydia Ksionda is the creator and designer behind the Leda Jewel Company, formerly of New Orleans and now back in her mother country of Canada. Lydia remains easily distracted by shiny sparkly jewels, food seasoned with love, and fancy schmancy cocktails. Please visit her jewelry site: ledajewelco.com

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New York Jeweler Picks Wilkerson for Their GOB Sale

Jan Rose of Rose Jewelers, located in Long Island's famous Hamptons beach district, explains how she chose Wilkerson for her closing sale. Jan's suggestions: reach out to jewelers who have been in similar situations to find out what worked for them, and look for a company with experience in going-out-of-business sales. Once you've done that, the final step is to move ahead and trust the process.

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Dave Richardson

Why Flip Charts Are Superior to Whiteboards

This could be extremely important to your sales performance.

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WHY IT IS TRUE: Many powerful ideas are shared in brief meetings with your sales staff prior to opening the store. Traditionally, these ideas are recorded on an erasable whiteboard in the training room or office. Once erased, the ideas may be lost forever.

PLAN OF ACTION: Invest in a flipchart and marking pens, and use them generously to record sales training conversations, discussions and commitments during your staff meetings. At the conclusion of the meeting, post the valuable information recorded on the chart to prominent locations in your office or training room. Refer to these in future daily meetings, focusing upon ongoing value to your store and your customers.

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Editor's Note

We’re All Quitters Someday

A successful ending to your retail career requires planning.

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ALL GOOD THINGS must end. Yet every ending is a new beginning. I could keep going with the clichés, but you get the point: everyone eventually has to move on from jewelry retail. When the time comes, you want to go out on your own terms.

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With that in mind, our lead story takes you inside the transitions of six different jewelry retailers and explains why business expert Seth Godin says that one of the secrets of successful organizations is “strategic quitting.” Everyone reading this issue will leave the industry one day; now is the time to begin planning for it.

That said, many of you aren’t ready to retire, you’ve just lost your inspiration. You’re down and out, dejected, or maybe just bored. We’ve got just the thing for you to help you get your mojo back: our second lead story, “Mojo to Go.” It includes 12 different action items guaranteed to bring the excitement back to your business life.

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If that weren’t enough, we’ve also got what group managing editor Chris Burslem calls “lots of fun and interesting side bits” throughout, including why you shouldn’t discount shop labor, how to sell more safely, what your inventory management strategy can learn from dieting, and of course much, much more.

So remember, it’s not the quitting that matters — it’s how you plan to quit!

Trace Shelton

Editor-in-Chief, INSTORE
trace@smartworkmedia.com

Five Smart Tips You’ll Find in This Issue

  • Have your kids or your employees’ kids make Valentine’s Day cards and use them as props in your displays. (Manager’s To-Do, page 26)
  • Hold office hours for an hour or two a week for staff to talk to you. (Mojo To Go, page 44)
  • When role-playing sales with your staff, always take the role of salesperson first. (Ask INSTORE, page 58)
  • Renegotiate everything from your lease to Internet, cable, phone and even garbage pickup to save money. (Evan Deutsch, page 52)
  • Use an open-to-buy calculation to balance what you’re buying with what you’re selling. (David Brown, page 53)
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Commentary: The Business

Want to Survive? Go Custom

Tapping into jewelry customers’ desire for individuality is the key to retail success.

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YOU OFTEN HEAR THE words “it’s custom made” when referring to jewelry, but is it really? We all know there is a difference between “off-the-rack” and “custom-made” when it comes to clothing — jewelry isn’t any different.

The magic starts when the customer meets the maker. Each custom piece of art (which is what jewelry really is) should start with a conversation. Then the information provided — including style ideas, desired gemstones, personality traits and tastes, hobbies, work and social environments, favorite colors, you name it — should be incorporated into hand-drawn or 3D CAD rendered images for the client to choose from. Once a favorite design has been chosen, the creation and fabrication processes can begin.

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Jim Ackerman

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Video: Gene the Jeweler Sells a Diamond — and Gets Back a CZ
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This specific value-add and brand differentiation is where clients realize the importance of knowing your jeweler. You have to trust the individual making the piece for you — that is paramount.

People are tired of sameness. From rampant copying to boring, uninspired designs, jewelry clients are becoming wise to seeing the same thing over and over again. The jewelry they are seeing does not speak to their individuality because these products are made for the masses on a gigantic scale. The anonymity behind fast fashion and easily consumed products that break or lose stones in a short amount of time after purchase don’t help the cause. Customer service only goes so far; the product has to have its own legs to stand on.

If you are creating one-of-a-kind pieces, you do not have the carrying costs associated with pre-fabricated designs and styles. You do not have to have liquidation sales of old, tired merchandise. You are creating exactly what the client is looking for. Being a specialty shop does not limit you to only creating custom pieces. It empowers you to design out-of-the-box and far-out jewelry that pushes the boundaries of style and uniqueness.

Seth Godin said that “survival is not the goal, transformative success is.” It is not always the strongest that survive, but those most responsive to change. Change is an opportunity that many see as a threat. It all boils down to our individual creativity. There is no competition when you create.

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