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You, The Jeweler

This has always been our favorite part of the Big Survey, where we get to learn about what fills your days, your special secret skills, the words that inspire you and the things you struggle with.

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30. What’s your favorite “work” part of business (that which gives you the most intrinsic satisfaction and engages you the most)?

Selling to customers
42%
Sitting at the bench working on a piece of jewelry
18%
Brainstorming strategic plans for the business
15%
Coming up with marketing campaigns
9%
Helping staff or family learn skills and improve
6%
Designing jewelry
4%
Doing the books
3%
Hosting events
2%
Other
2%
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31. What is your gender?

COMMENT: Women owners continue to earn considerably less than their male counterparts with 33% generating less than $40,000 in income a year from their jewelry business compared to just 13% of the men owners. At the other end of the scale, 25% of male owners take home more than $150,000 a year compared to just 2% of women owners.

32. Duties that you personally handle:

COMMENT: On the assumption that the biggest stores have the biggest staffs and the owners or managers have the opportunity to delegate the most, we ran a cross-tab of stores doing over $5 million in annual sales (note the black line). So, how does the typical workday look for such jewelers? Well, they don’t do a lot of bench work or website maintenance, and they get help doing the books. Admirably, 25% of the leaders of these stores always clean the floors and 50% sometimes do it; 93% are also still spending some time on the floor selling.

33. How much money would you need in the bank or in an investment account to consider yourself rich?

COMMENT: Eight years have passed since we last asked this question, and the definition of rich hasn’t changed for most jewelers – most would consider themselves wealthy with an investment nest egg of $2 million or less. For what it’s worth, something else that hasn’t changed is their earnings: almost half of the jewelers in our survey, or 47%, earned less than $75,000 in 2011. Almost a decade later, that midway point in the earnings range has barely budged.

34-35. For these two questions we asked jewelers what words of wisdom from a mentor or business book have benefited them more than any other, and what was the worst piece of business advice they had ever received from someone else in the trade. As our Venn diagram illustrates, and as one jeweler noted, “there’s no good or bad advice, just what you do with it.”

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36. What’s a special little sales, social or management skill you have that sets you apart from other jewelers and for which maybe you feel you don’t receive sufficient recognition?

A little like comic book heroes who need to keep their superpowers secret, our jewelers also often deploy their talents in a quiet, unassuming way. We gave them a chance to let the world know.

  • I’ve been told that I have a memory vault that is amazing. Remembering a customer’s name, that their son’s name is Robert and that their dog was sick when he came in 10 years ago. Things like that. Our owner, Elias, will look at me like I’m some kind of weird superhero. I’ll cherish it while I still have it!
  • I love to walk out to the floor when an associate is helping an indecisive person choose between two items. I always act like I’m walking out the door (or have a specific reason to walk past the client) and stop and say, “ooh… nice choices.” Then I smile and point at something completely different, nod my head and say, “but this…” and keep on walking. Eight outta 10 times they end up with what I point out. (Note to self: always make sure it’s more expensive!)
  • I am a connector: I love connecting with my customers and connecting them to the perfect gifts or designs. I also love connecting like-minded people. It’s all about the connections you make.
  • being the stress magnet. It is a superpower. I attract any stressor in the store so staff don’t worry. In fact, I even have a special superhero costume under my everyday clothes. It has a big “S”. Not sure if that stands for stress or stupid some days.
  • patience with employees. No turnover.
  • remembering someone’s name by recognizing their jewelry — especially helpful at the grocery store!
  • resetting very small melee diamonds back into rings after cleaning other stores’ sh*!.
  • I have a great ability to appear calm, cool and collected, regardless of the circumstances. (That’s on the outside. Inside I’m … well.)
  • I can guess someone’s finger size just by glancing at their finger. I always get it right!
  • I take nice and professional-looking hand and lifestyle shots of our pieces on my salesgirl/model!
  • the way i educate customers on their purchase, especially for lab-grown as I’ve developed a clear and concise way in which to communicate the differences with earth-mined stones so that the layperson understands the pros/cons easily. Being in a cut-throat competitive jewelry district with all types of “players”, my return sales success and conversion rate speaks to the efficacy of my approach.
  • I breakdance.
  • sizing stretch watchbands.
  • keeping the sidewalks and parks nearby free of trash, glass, etc.
  • noticing which piece of jewelry is not straight or tags showing! I’m a stickler on presentation/merchandising.
  • i’m a good listener—mostly to others’ problems. Kinda like a bartender, Lol!
  • I don’t need others’ recognition for what I do. I do it because I love it, but yes, I am the master at untangling chains.
  • I have graphology (handwriting analysis) skills that have served me well when hiring and dealing with customers.
  • I make all my customers my friends. Heck, I even married one.
  • years of magic lead me to read people better than most.

37. 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.

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38. Check any mental health issues you have considered getting professional help with (or did get help with) during your career as a jeweler.

Stress
57%
Sleeplessness
33%
Depression
27%
Anxiety disorder
24%
PTSD
5%
Phobias
2%
COMMENT: From meeting customer’s expectations to meeting payrolls, few occupations are as stressful as small business owner. It helps some people to frame stress positively — as the pioneering Hungarian-Canadian endocrinologist Hans Selye noted, to be totally without stress is to be dead. The right amount of stress helps you get stuff done. When things start feeling out of control, however, then you may need professional help. (And to give you an idea if that might be you, take this “Stress Audit” instr.us/10191 .

39. Which words or phrases do you most overuse?

COMMENT: Jewelers interpreted this question in three ways:
– There were words they wished they didn’t say so much because they had become tired or were jargon (bling, facilitate, like);
– Words that sometimes don’t work well in a sales situation: How can I help you? Trust me, or What is your budget?
– And those that suggest something is less than optimum in the store, such as “Just kill me now,” or “Business is slow” or that point to trouble ahead as in “It will be ready in an hour,” “Let me check with my goldsmith”, or even just “Yes” when “No” was probably the better answer.

And then there were the words said too often that as one jeweler noted correctly, “You probably can’t post here.” The word cloud on the right shows the most regularly cited words and phrases.

Over the years, INSTORE has won 80 international journalism awards for its publication and website. Contact INSTORE's editors at editor@instoremag.com.

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Big Survey

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

They’d rather spend their time pursuing other things.

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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.
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Big Survey

The Big Survey 2019: Big Data

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THE BIG SURVEY 2019

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

Far below expectations
2%
Below expectations
23%
In line with expectations
46%
Above expectations
24%
Way above expectations
5%

2. How many stores do you operate?

3. Where is your store located by region?

Northeast
17%
Mid Atlantic

 

5%
Midwest
31%
Southeast
21%
Southwest
9%
Mountain (Rocky Mountains)
4%
Northwest
(including Alaska)
3%
West (including Hawaii)
5%
Canada
5%
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4. Is your (main) store located:

On a downtown street
33%
In its own free-standing building

 

27%
In a strip mall
24%
In a lifestyle center
5%
Office building/Business park
5%
In a mall
3%
Home studio
2%
On the Internet
1%
Other
1%
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Big Survey

These Are the Tech Innovations That Jewelers Find Most Useful

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

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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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