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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 [email protected].

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Downsizing? Wilkerson Is Here to Help

Orin Mazzoni, Jr., the owner of Orin Jewelers in Garden City and Northville, Michigan, decided it was time to downsize. With two locations and an eye on the future, Mazzoni asked Wilkerson to take the lead on closing the Garden City store. Mazzoni met Wilkerson’s Rick Hayes some years back, he says, and once he made up his mind to consolidate, he and Hayes “set up a timeline” for the sale. Despite the pandemic, Mazzoni says the everything went smoothly. “Many days, we had lines of people waiting to get in,” he says, adding that Wilkerson’s professionalism made it all worthwhile. “Whenever you do an event like this, you think, ‘I’ve been doing this my whole life. Do I really need to pay someone to do it for me?’ But then I realized, these guys are the pros and we need to move forward with them.”

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