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There was a time when the day-to-day life of a jeweler didn’t change too much. Technology and the upended retail landscape mean that is no longer the case.




20. In the last decade, have any of these dates on the calendar become significantly less important to your business?

Prom Season
Father’s Day
Valentine’s Day
Mother’s Day
Tax-return season
Spring weddings
Fall engagements
COMMENT: With more than half of jewelers identifying Father’s Day and almost as many listing Valentine’s Day and Mother’s Day as having lost much of their ability to pull in customers, it suggests the jeweler’s calendar is undergoing a fundamental change.

21. Please check the following issues customers regularly ask you about:

Diamond origins/Conflict diamonds
Lab-grown diamonds
Colored stone origins
Ethical sourcing
Recycled gold
Environmental impact of diamond mining
Fair trade metals

22. In your experience, who is the best fit for a cross-promotion?

Clothes/fashion retailer
Bridal boutique
Spa or other well-being business
Auto dealership
Bar/wine boutique/winery
Coffee shop
Beauty/nail salon
A gym or fitness center
Sporting goods retailer
Optical retailer
“Tie-ups don’t work for us.”
*Among the “others” that caught our attention were divorce attorney, realtor, retirement home and donut shop: “We have a donut shop next door. So diamonds and donuts it is,“ noted the respondent.

23. How often do you check online review sites for comments about your store?


24-25. How would you describe the impact of social media on your business and on your personal life?

Tell us about the business impact
  • It’s how we reach a majority of potential customers now.
  • It has given me a nationwide market to sell my designs.
  • We sell almost all the items we feature on our Instagram and Facebook posts. It’s made a huge difference in our bottom line.
  • Our gallery is “outside the box” in most approaches, and social media expresses that well and instantly.
  • People love when we are active in posting pictures, especially “Before and Afters” or jewelry makeover pics.
  • We have an older clientele. Facebook inquiries take up time but are not very fruitful.
  • Time-sucking looky-loos are far worse in text … “Could you shoot a picture of it upside down with a green light?”
  • The use of social media has helped us generate excitement with our customers. Giveaways and contests where we ask them to share, like and tag someone has boosted our audience.
  • Allows us to interact with customers at their convenience, not just business hours.
  • Now you know “which half of your advertising is working.”
  • We are losing sales to costume jewelry seen on social media. Everyone wants to make or sell jewelry and do it with no overhead expenses.
  • It brings in referrals when clients allow us to share their engagement photos or tag us. I’m always surprised when a new customer comes in and says that her friend, who is not yet a customer, follows us on social media and referred her to us.
  • We actually get to know our customers on a more personal level, because they share more with us on social media than they would in person.
  • Google Reviews is huge for us. We’re No. 1 in our area. It’s cut our advertising down by $24,000 a year.
  • We are a little more visible, with no real impact. Those on FB are really fake friends. Real clients walk through the door.
  • Our hires are all in their 20s, and navigating social media is second nature to their age group. Most large sales now are text and social media component sales.
  • It’s a huge time waster. Employers are losing incredible amounts of production time to people on social media while at work.
  • We are a 96-year-old store, so we have a generational customer base, and social media has introduced us to the younger generation.
  • It’s allowed us to reach further, and also serves as a “paper trail” for quotes, comments, confirmations, etc.
  • Platforms such as Instagram connect me with new designs and designers. It helps to keep the pulse on market trends.
  • I feel like i am walking on eggshells. G-d forbid I make a mistake or a job isn’t completed in the time the client thinks it should be, which results in bad reviews.
  • It has become our major advertising media, but it has its pitfalls, such as an unhappy person’s ability to trash your business rather than resolve any issues with you in person.
  • Once I set boundaries for myself in terms of replying to inquires, setting up automatic replies and using the “do not disturb” feature for specific hours every day, it was nothing but positive. Customers love that I’m accessible (I’m a small store in a small town of less than 2,000 people) and that it’s a person replying.
Tell us about the personal impact
  • For me it has been positive. Connection is very important in business and in personal life. I do feel more connected to people because of it.
  • I keep its use on a personal level limited. It has allowed me to reconnect with many people across the years and miles. It has also caused me to “unfriend” some people in real life who have an addictive connection to it. (“Can we please do something together without you turning it into a post? Can you please stop checking your phone—I’m right here, across the table from you?!?”)
  • I’ve reconnected with old friends and stayed connected to my extended family in a way that was never possible before.
  • Met my wife there!
  • My spouse is always on her phone/computer, even in the evenings.
  • Neutral when you consider the pros and cons. Cons: Time sink. Need to ignore most of the content. Divisive. Pros: Great for connecting with friends. Have a worldwide network as a result. Recently traveled to NC, friends from Georgia saw the post, said “we’re here too.” Had lunch as a result.
  • Dozens of new customers from my hometown, people that knew me but didn’t know what I do for a living. Been here 38 years.
  • I use Facebook for learning about clients. I am too old to be affected by how happy other people look on Facebook and I don’t care what they had for dinner, no matter how beautiful the presentation.
  • It is a lot of work and it feels like you still work after hours because you’re connected.
  • I personally hate it. People know everything but are not connected.
  • I am able to keep up to date on happenings in fashion, the world and popular trends much more easily.
  • Met many great people, learned of many great businesses, hobbies, etc. Learned a lot about a lot of things.
  • I quit most social media because of its inability to determine fact from fiction.
  • I feel lost if I don’t have my phone near me. At work I use it to post pics for social media, at home it’s just my go-to … I hate that it has come to that. I miss the in-depth conversations at the dinner table or at restaurants. You look around and everyone has their face in their phone.
  • As a business owner, you and your employees will be judged by all posts and activity in your personal lives. Privacy is dead.
  • It makes me late getting out of bed every single day.
  • Time mentally away from work is almost nonexistent. Always on a leash.
  • Positive because I receive lots of millennial business. Negative that you can become a slave to social media. Especially for a one-man operation (no employees).
  • Too easily caught up in what others are doing, saying, thinking. I’ve deleted my personal accounts to focus more on myself.
  • I spend way too much time on it. It’s my drug of choice.
  • We don’t talk any more … everyone just stares at their phone. I want to be a better example to my 13-year-old daughter, but it is hard to say not to do it when I do it myself.
  • Allows me to see life outside of my own.
  • Waste too much time looking at my phone instead of experiencing life.
  • It’s dividing our country.
  • It has allowed me to keep in touch with my family who live in other states. I am also in several groups for the jewelry industry as well as for fun.

26. How eco­friendly is your store? Check all the practices you employ.

COMMENT: Jewelers showed they were making more environmentally conscious decision in nearly all the areas we highlighted compared with five years ago. The only significant declines were in 1) the use of local suppliers, which is likely explained by the ease with which it is possible to order supplies online from just about anywhere in the world in 2019, and 2) fewer jewelers stocking “green” jewelry designers. Then again, everyone seems to be a “green” jewelry designer these days.

27. As a business owner, tell us whether each of these new technologies or trends excites, scares you or makes you go “meh”.

COMMENT: Most of the technological breakthroughs that have been hailed as having the potential to revolutionize the jewelry industry (blockchain) or society at large (A.I.) don’t seem to excite jewelers. The two that stood out in terms of getting the emotions going were 3D printing (yay!) and lab-grown meat (ech!).

28. How would you describe the contribution of e-commerce — via your website, Facebook, eBay, Etsy, etc. — to total sales?

COMMENT: It’s been a steady but undeniable trend with e-commerce sales now accounting for a moderate to substantial portion of four in 10 jewelers.

29. Who do you think is the most powerful (consumer-facing) social media influencer in jewelry?

By far the single biggest response to this question was “Don’t have a clue”. That suggests an admirable lack of interest in the often frothy world of social media influencers, but also an opportunity. There is something to be said for finding out who may be guiding your customers’ fashion or jewelry choices. For those jewelers who were a little more clued in about the people their customers were following on Instagram, YouTube, Facebook or other social media channels, here are their choices for top 10 influencers, ranked from top to bottom:

  1. Danielle Miele @gemgossip
  2. Kim Kardashian
  3. Meghan Markle
  4. The Bachelor/Bachelorette franchise
  5. Kylie Jenner
  6. Hayley Paige
  7. Beyoncé
  8. Jennifer lopez
  9. Taylor Swift
  10. Cardi B

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Wilkerson Testimonials

A Packed Store Like the Day Before Christmas? Wilkerson Makes It Happen

Deb Schulman says once she and her husband, Ron, decided to retire, she could feel “the stress start to leave.” The owners of B. Alsohns Jewelers in Palm Desert, California, the Schulmans had heard about Wilkerson over the years and contacted them when the time was right. Wilkerson provided the personalized service, experience and manpower it took to organize their GOB sale. “We are so impressed with the way Wilkerson performed for us,” says Ron Schulman, “I’d send high accolades to anyone who was interested.”

Promoted Headlines

Big Survey

Jewelers Studied These Topics In-Depth … And Decided They Weren’t Worth It

They’d rather spend their time pursuing other things.



ONE QUESTION WE asked in Big Survey 2019 was this: “In recent years, is there anything that you studied deeply and decided wasn’t worth pursuing?”

In-house CAD/CAM capabilities were the overwhelming winner here, as many jewelers studied it but decided that outsourcing was a better option for them.

Interestingly, e-commerce was next-most mentioned (tied with “new lines of product”). Most experts and top jewelry stores have concluded that e-commerce is a must-have for selling to today’s consumer, who likes to shop via mobile device.

  • CAD/CAM (19)
  • E-commerce (12)
  • New lines of product (12)
  • Laser welder/engraver (9)
  • Lab-grown diamonds (7)
  • Pandora (7)

Some other interesting answers included buying rough diamonds, joint ventures, hiring an IT person, cloud-based appraisals, and “cutting debt.”

Many of our readers have researched, and then decided against, doing things that may seem valuable to other jewelry stores. Here were some of the things that just didn’t work for them.

  • We have tried a few “new and exciting” lines over the past few years, only to find that they were overhyped and complete duds!
  • CAD design … too long to get proficient.
  • Researched Pandora and charm jewelry and decided against it.
  • Buying a 3D printer. Just pay for the file instead.
  • Laser welder. I have wanted one for years, but have realized that at 60-plus, I simply do not have the TIME during the day, week or year to learn this new skill to the level that I would require of myself.
  • Brand name lies and fads. Our market is just too small.
  • Several online review subscription services, those that would help to build reviews. Most are overpriced and inefficient.
  • Photography of jewelry … I have had to delegate it.
  • Manmade diamonds; I learned a lot, but my clients want “real” ones.
  • CAD/CAM in-house. I spent time and money into something that I can now outsource much more cost effectively. The more CAD/CAM business that comes online, the less expensive the services become. My time is better spent designing than going through the mechanics of computer operation.
  • Online marketing: You buy these expensive websites with the hopes of boosting your bottom line as a mom-and-pop shop. Customers may look online before they buy, but still do the touchy-feely in the store.
  • Constantly looking at new small US designer lines and knowing with our weak dollar, it won’t sell at a profit.
  • Geo-fencing … actually pursued it and found it to be a total waste of money and time.
  • But our favorite answer was this one:
  • I don’t believe anything you study isn’t worth a try.
Continue Reading

Big Survey

The Big Survey 2019: Big Data





Big Data

Gabriel & Co. is king. Earnings for many jewelers have flat-lined. And customers — and almost as often staff — are still confounding. Those are some of the broad takeaways of the 2019 Big Survey. Dig in and enjoy our analysis of data provided by 802 North American jewelers.

Utah’s jewelers were most concerned about the impact of social media on their personal lives: 75% said it had been negative. In a possible related finding, Utah’s jewelers also checked review sites most regularly, doing it daily or every few days. Jewelers in Maine were the least likely to check what people were saying about them online.
California had the highest number of multiple-store owners: 23% had two stores and 3% had three or more.
Arizona led the way in e-ccommerce with 71% saying it contributed a moderate or substantial portion of their sales (meaning more than 10%).
Texas contributed the highest portion of big city stores to our survey (23%) among U.S. stores. (Canada actually had the most in North America at 29%.)
Wisconsin could possibly change its moniker to the Surprise State: Only 15% of its jewelers said their performance this year was in line with expectations. The rest were either doing better or worse than expected.
Jewelers in Iowa were most excited about lab-grown diamonds (63%), while jewelers in New York were most alarmed by their emergence (48%).
Canadian jewelers are most likely to be asked about a diamond’s origins (83% say it happens regularly) while in the U.S. it was California that holds that distinction (70%).

1. How well is your business performing in 2019 compared to your expectations going into the year?

Far below expectations
Below expectations
In line with expectations
Above expectations
Way above expectations

2. How many stores do you operate?

3. Where is your store located by region?

Mid Atlantic


Mountain (Rocky Mountains)
(including Alaska)
West (including Hawaii)

4. Is your (main) store located:

On a downtown street
In its own free-standing building


In a strip mall
In a lifestyle center
Office building/Business park
In a mall
Home studio
On the Internet
Continue Reading

Big Survey

These Are the Tech Innovations That Jewelers Find Most Useful

They make a big difference for time-starved business owners.



ONE QUESTION WE asked in The Big Survey 2019 was this: “What tech innovation or app has had the biggest positive impact on your life as a time-starved business owner?”

Here were the top 10 most valuable tech innovations to jewelers in our survey.

Unsurprisingly, mobile and remote technology captured seven of the 10 spots, as they allow business owners to accomplish tasks from wherever they may be, in speedy fashion.

Here’s what some of our readers had to say about why they chose particular technologies as most valuable.

  • Email on my phone and text messaging. While it can be too much and annoying, I sell more stuff to friends and customers via text than I ever dreamed I would. Guys don’t like to shop, and if you know their significant other, they love it if you can do it for them.
  • The smartphone. We put it off for years before we got one; now I don’t know how we can do business without it.
  • The innovations of The Edge software system in letting you know “where you are” with your business very quickly.
  • Texting and emailing customers estimates and information instead of phone calls. I can do these in the evening and not during those precious working hours.
  • Wax printing. Even though I am a very competent sculptor, there is much to be said for getting the wax printer to make things while you barbeque some dinner.
  • The ability to order/reorder from vendors online to keep best sellers in inventory.
  • Alexa. I love that I can tell her what song I am feeling like and it plays right then.
  • Bank innovations that allow me to pay online, transfer money, set up auto-pay. I used to write a lot of checks!
  • Podium. The ability to directly communicate with our customers in a non-spam way has changed a lot of the way we do business, especially custom and repairs. It is expensive, but in our minds, it has been worth it.
  • Online grocery ordering apps that let you place the order for a particular time, drive in, and have it delivered to your car. No more walking through the grocery store with a list. love it.
  • My iPhone. Everything is at my fingertips. This is especially important now that I find that as I get older, I can’t spell anymore.
  • Ipevo camera at each employee’s desk, so every inventory item has a photo. Inexpensive and high quality.
  • GoToMyPC to access my computer and server from anywhere in the world.
  • iPad Pro! It has revolutionized our custom process. I can either draw up a design from scratch, or for custom shadow bands, I take a photo of their existing piece and then draw right on the photo digitally for a great visual. I do it right in front of the clients and they are always wowed by the technology.
  • Grubhub for sure. I love getting home and having a hot meal made by someone else ready to eat.
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