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Vegas Must-Haves #5: Signet Rings Are a Sign of the Times

They allow your customer to create her own stamp of style.

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Heading out to Vegas for Jewelry Week? Here are some of the trends we are predicting you will see and that you might want to bring into your store. Some have been going strong for a few seasons, while others have been evolving for a couple of years. All are popular from the red carpet to the ready-to-wear runways to the jewelry design studios. So, why not try your luck with this trend or the others we will be showing?

Signet rings have left their mark of distinction on contemporary designers. Over the past several years, antique and vintage signets in all gold or gold and hardstone have been selling out of antique shops and trade fairs. They are also being interpreted in the modern market in everything from customized initials to mottos, motifs and messages. In an age of personalization, they allow you to your customer to create her own stamp of style by choosing those that are most significant and speak to who she is. Or you can individualize them even more by working with clients and designers to create one-of-a-kind or limited editions that will represent or celebrate an important occasion. This season designers have gotten even more creative, working in gemstones and enamel and creating a range of romantic to playful motifs. Some celebrities who wear them: Pippa Middleton, Helen Mirren, Rihanna and Penelope Cruz.

Penelope Cruz has often been photographed in a ruby and gold signet on her pointer finger at awards presentations , which was given to her by her grandmother, on her pointer finger. Ahead of the trend, she also wore it in the film Vicky Cristina Barcelona and in her appearance in a 2003 Coca Cola commercial.

Sorellina heart signet ring with turquoise, diamonds and pink sapphires in 18K gold. sorellinanewyork.com. $2,500

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Nouvel Heritage 18K multi sapphire and diamond Signet Ring with the word Love engraved. Also is available with initials.
18K gold, sapphires and diamonds nouvelheritage.com. $3800

Jade Trau 18K gold signet ring with accent diamonds. Can be personalized. jadetrau.com. $2,100

Susan Highsmith Gemini signet ring in 14K gold. susanhighsmith.com. Priced upon request.

Zoe Chicco 14k Engraved Monogram Signet Ring. zoechicco.com. $770

Beth Bernstein is a published author of three books and jewelry and fashion expert with 18+ years experience. A broad knowledge of the history of jewelry and fashion coupled with a background in "the story", writing, trends, design concepts has earned Beth a proven track record.

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Gene the Jeweler

It Was Hawaii Day at Gene the Jeweler’s Store … Or Was It?

In this episode of Jimmy DeGroot’s satirical Gene the Jeweler series, Gene learns that it was Hawaii Day at his store. At least that’s what his employee, Jeremy, says. But Jeremy’s answers aren’t quite adding up. It’s hard to say what this “Hawaii Day” was really all about.

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To Stand Out From the Crowd, Build a Real Marketing Plan

A scattershot approach won’t work.

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WHO CARES ABOUT fine wine and nice cars? We should all be drinking two-buck-Chuck and driving a practical car, right? It would be cheaper, and cloth seats are the new leather. And while we’re at it, forget about the Jimmy Choo stilettos. You can match a sensible pair of shoes from Payless with that skirt … think of the money you’ll save. So, why don’t we? Because you would never bring two-buck-Chuck to a dinner party. Nice cars are reliable and fun to drive. And Jimmy Choo stilettos … come on. What do all these things have in common? Image, reliability and brand recognition.

It wasn’t that long ago that people were adamant about being different, building their brand and separating themselves from everyone else. But now a dark shadow of complacency has settled upon us, fueled by cheap services. Most of this comes from the fast growth of digital media and the slew of small companies that have popped up offering services from social media to paid search and email marketing. With most jewelers still not fully understanding this “new media,” it all comes down to cost.

There are a couple of reasons for this; first is a lack of buy-in. Many retailers don’t really believe in social or digital media. They just know everyone else seems to be getting involved, so they probably should, too. As a result, they seek out resources who will do the work cheaply and with minimal marketing dollars behind those efforts. That’s also the No. 1 reason their efforts fail. The second reason is believing these services are all the same. They’re not. Posting on Facebook or managing paid search in and of itself is not marketing. Without a sound strategy with objectives, you could actually be doing more harm than good. You don’t really think you get that for a couple hundred dollars a month, do you?

It’s sad but true: you get what you pay for. Most of the time, it’s templates, spitball marketing, below average results and a lot of time on the hamster wheel. What does that say about your store and your brand? When we all get over the cheap services, cheap websites, cheap everything, we’ll realize that there is something about being different, building the brand and separating ourselves from everyone else. That’s the day we’ll look back on the Age of the Cookie Cutters, open a bottle of Chateau Margaux and say, “Let’s build a marketing plan.”

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How Independent Jewelers Can Build a Strong Brand in a High-Tech World

Here are five ways to build a powerful brand while utilizing the latest tech in visual merchandising.

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RESPONDING TO THE pressures and opportunities of technology is a challenge for any jewelry retailer. Here are insights for using brand and visual merchandising to get the high tech and traditional balance right.

1. Start with the brand experience. How we shop and communicate is changing, but human nature remains the same. Traditional branding and visual merchandising still work in jewelry retailing. The latest tech trend can be just a distraction if you haven’t got the basics right.

2. Understand your story and your shopper’s journey before thinking about technology. Appeal to the senses, delighting shoppers through texture, color, lighting, sound, even scent. Focus on creating a mood and setting a scene to make an emotional connection with impact, with or without technology.

3. Use new props and displays to freshen up your shopping experience. Innovation is at work in areas like signage, props, forms, and fixtures. Here are a few low tech ideas with modern appeal:

  • Sparkling 3-foot-wide lips bring fashion, fun and smiles to a store.
  • Floating stone shapes hanging like clouds juxtapose lightness with weight to showcase jewelry with drama.
  • Multi-handed sprays of arms present bracelets, watches and rings in a way that is far beyond the staid vitrine.

4. Remember that physical retail will never go away. Online retailers are turning to physical stores because online-only is relationship- and experience-limiting. Retailers from Amazon to James Allen are opening actual retail doors.

JamesAllen.com, an online diamond retailer, recently opened a store in Washington, DC. It is a physical manifestation of the online brand. Intimidating aspects of the traditional jewelry store are gone. Here is a welcoming, comfortable environment that invites exploration. Video images of jewelry greet shoppers as they engage with 3-D CAM/CAD design, virtual inventory and visualization tools. They can touch, feel and try on cubic zirconia ring models free of locked cases. The store is a test bed for virtual reality, consumer co-creation, shopping gamification, and product customization.

In-store technology goes beyond experience. By capturing shopper behavioral data, we can understand how customers interact and adjust stores accordingly.

5. Make sure your store stands out in a blurred, borderless retail landscape. The customer experience isn’t confined to a specific channel. A clear brand delivered with continuity across the physical, online, mobile and virtual is what wins. Don’t ask “what technology?” Begin with the brand, the customer journey and the experience. Regardless of technology, jewelry retailers that deliver continuity, clarity and relevance across channels will have an indelible and profitable impact.

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Shane Decker

What Not To Do During the First 30 Seconds of Any Sale

Huddling at the back is a big no-no.

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HAVE YOU EVER walked into what appeared to be a nice store, only to spin and leave faster than you came in? Or, have you ever walked into a nice place of business and watched two salespeople look at each other, then you, then each other again, like they’re seeing which one of them is going to wait on you?

You’re not alone — we’ve all had this experience, and jewelry stores are no exception. At too many stores, you’re not greeted at all, and sometimes, you can’t even find anyone to take care of your needs. This is one reason the Internet is doing so well.

People today are time-starved, and they will decide within the first 30 seconds of entering your store whether or not they’re going to give you their money.

Let’s begin with the first five seconds: every customer must be greeted — ideally, from the “sweet spot” in your store (15 feet inside your door to the customer’s right as they walk in). When you’re a client and you’re acknowledged, you feel important. It’s a relief subconsciously to realize that the sales associates know you’re there.

Never allow your sales floor to be vacant when clients come in. Many say they are just looking, but that’s an opportunity for you to use your first close by saying, “I always do that before I buy; let’s get started!” or “I’m glad you came in to take care of that today.”

“I’m just looking” means “I’m just spending.” It means “I’m on a mission, and when I find what I’m looking for, I’m gonna buy it.” It does not mean, “Leave me alone.” Like I said before, we are a time-starved nation, and nobody is just looking.

Do not come from the back of the store to the front; you should be there already. When you come from the back, your mind is focused on the busy work you were doing or the donut you were eating.

Never greet a customer from a group huddle. It’s good to laugh in your store, but if you’re all laughing about something when the client walks in, they may think you’re laughing at them.

Do not use canned openings like “Hi how are you?” or “What can I help you with?” Clients don’t need “help”; they want professional assistance to make a purchase or information about a service needed. Likewise, don’t say, “Good morning, welcome to Smith Jewelers.” That gets old, fast. What if they come in three or four times a year and hear you say the same thing? Keep your greetings creative and make sure they’re welcoming. Your greeting should be professional and make your client feel glad they came into your place of business.

Be present for the start of the sale, and keep it professional. Starting strong allows you to make it to the end (and hopefully close the sale). By doing so, you’ll keep your client from wanting to go to the Internet — after all, we do want to talk to real people, especially when it comes to jewelry.

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