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Operations & Marketing

Marketing gets customers in the door and then your processes ensure you close the sale. Here, jewelers reveal the challenge of dealing with the newest generation of shoppers out front, and share their ingenuity out back.




49. How long has it been since you updated/overhauled/installed new …

big survey 2020-store installations data

COMMENT: The nearly 80% of jewelers who have updated their website in the last two years indicates they are on top of this category. It’s a different story for lighting, POS systems and store manuals, with a significant number of stores having made no changes in 10 years or more. Given the significant advances in lighting and inventory-management technology and the constantly changing legal framework in which retailers operate, updates in all these areas would likely deliver strong benefits.

50. Tell us about something you bought for less than $100 that had a significant impact on your business or your day-to-day work life?

  • AmazonBasics chair. It was $60 and made a huge difference in how long I can focus and sit at the bench.
  • Kaizen Foam for organizing tools in every workspace. Life. Changed.
  • $99 fiberglass photo dome. Use every day! Thanks, Aleah!
  • The GemCam allows us to easily take zoomed-in pictures of clients’ centerstones before they leave them for repair. We use their cellphones to take an image so they have a copy. It protects us and protects the client.
  • My loupe that has a millimeter ruler that can help me easily estimate the size of mounted melee for appraisals.
  • WeatherTech phone/cupholder.
  • An extra copy of the Geller book to keep in my office for quoting clients online. Keeps me from running back-and-forth with our showfloor copy.
  • A larger computer screen. Customers love it, too.
  • Automatic hand-sanitizer dispenser.
  • Clear facemasks so people can see us smile at them.
  • A little black book for user names, passwords, and questions answered.
  • Alexa: She reminds all of us about deadlines, moving our car, alarms.
  • Old fashioned write-on desk calander
  • – it’s $.04/text to send to clients regarding repair work, custom orders, and Google reviews.
  • Bourbon for my UPS driver.
  • Square credit card mobile processor — i can bring it anywhere and sell anywhere.
  • A Keurig: has increased productivity and downtime because employees don’t need to leave the shop.

51. Tell us about a single-purpose bench tool you’ve successfully “MacGyvered” to use for something else.

  • Turned a broken burr into a burnisher, a prong pusher, and a stone-pulling tool.
  • Drilled a “channel/groove” on the inside of tweezers so that they can easily hold earring posts while working on them. Regular tweezers/pliers have the grips inside that leave marks.
  • Channel-lock pliers. We ground the teeth off, polished it flat, and use it for stone setting.
  • I use regular nail clippers to pull prongs away from stones to remove them from the mounting.
  • Spoons to curve pins.
  • My big vice. I put a pipe on the handle and make an equalizer crusher for gold teeth, class rings, straightening bent metal, etc. At 5’2″, I need all the muscle I can get!
  • I have been using a Kagan ring roller/ring stretcher to channel-set bands. You get clean channels and if you use diamond cut gems such as emerald, they set beautifully.
  • Epoxy: Use it to fill rings in instead of ring guards.
  • A nail from my toolbox, painted in glitter. It’s our “magic nail”, used for those pesky customers who say, “My earring post still isn’t straight!”
  • I have used the plastic containers that laser solder wire is wrapped in for headphones.
  • Club soda is so much easier to open with a wrench.
  • My torch makes an excellent fly killer.
  • Loupe to read labels.

52. Please rate which generation is your key market segment (Results reflect a weighted average with “4” the maximum score.)

big survey 2020 -generation key market

53. In 2019, millennials became the largest demographic within the adult US population. They also moved into their peak earning years. As this generation matures, rank what you think is important in capturing them as customers:

  • Establishing trust: 5.27
  • Offering them an in-store experience: 4.29
  • Allowing them to express their unique style through custom design, stacking, category-mixing, etc: 4.21
  • Showing that you care about ethical/environmental issues: 3.18
  • A seamless, omni-channel shopping experience: 2.64
  • Clearly displayed pricing: 1.81

54. Please tell us a good thing about the rise of the millennials.

  • “I love how they embrace their individuality. They are fine as a couple purchasing completely different metals, stones or whatever suits their individual fancies. No issue with paying for what they want/deserve.”
  • “They enjoy learning about products and ask great questions.”
  • “They are waiting to be established before buying a ring, making their price point higher.”
  • “They use less ‘material’ post-purchase — less bags, boxes, tissue paper, paper appraisals, and they engage with us online.”
  • “Millennials are very earnest and don’t feel like everyone is out to get them. They aren’t hard negotiators like their parents.”
  • “They are digitally connected, which allows me to more accurately target them using digital marketing that can be tracked.”
  • “We love supporting local businesses.”

55. Please tell us a bad thing about the rise the millenials.

  • “They know some, but think they know all.”
  • “Their tendency to buy online.”
  • “They’re broke.”
  • “Dependency on Google Reviews.”
  • “They never like something right out of the case; it always has to be customized or slightly different.”
  • “They all feel so unique, it’s hard to not show that they are actually similar to one another.”
  • “They want it now.”
  • “They want ‘experiences’ as opposed to items to mark those experiences.”
  • “Millennials. You know the type. Oversensitive, phone-obsessed, selfie-snapping, ‘Friends’-binge-watching, kombucha-guzzling, influencer-obsessed complainers. If that drives you crazy, here’s your trigger warning: Millennials are taking over the workforce. Get used to it.”

56. What jewelry industry tradition needs to be retired?

Several respondents took issue with the question, saying the word “industry” itself in reference to the jewelry business needs to be retired: “Soon all resellers of jewelry will disappear. Only the makers will survive!”

  • Being snooty, including the formality of men wearing suits and ties and women with “bouffant hair” wearing high heels. A formal dress code reflects “the arrogant and snooty feeling that has been historically associated with a high-end jewelry store. Young people, especially young men, would rather use the Internet to buy a diamond than come in and have to deal with that.”
  • Dishonest pricing. “Having triple key price tags and telling customers ‘for you, it’s 50 percent off!'” and “Show the real price. Make it a price that you are happy with and is competitive.”
  • Being out of date. “It’s OK to remodel your store or please just retire,” said one respondent. Related issues: “Bad music in the store” and “Faxing. Who faxes anymore except for jewelers?”
  • Bashing the competition. “How about we work together and support each other?” asked one respondent.
  • Selling diamonds as an “investment’. “Even the hint that jewelry and/or diamonds represent some form of investment. Biggest lie in the industry.” Also, in the engagement ring realm, a respondent suggests jewelers stop using salary guidelines for ring purchases. Why limit what clients are willing to spend?
  • Lack of gender and racial diversity. “The ridiculously small number of people of color in the industry. I am disgusted by how white this industry is. And while we’re at it, we could make sure that women get equal pay.” Another response: “The jewelry industry is still a very male dominated industry. As a female, I find I work better with female line reps.”
  • Selling both wholesale and retail. “Do one or the other, but don’t compete with your own customers.” Also, “manufacturers posting pricing to the public.”
  • Giving it away, specifically mentioned were free cleaning, free repairs, free sizing, free polishing, free rhodium plating, free opinions, free batteries, free watchband adjusting and free verbal appraisals, because “most jewelers do not put enough value on their time or expertise” and because, “So much out there is so poorly made, you need to be so careful before you clean it or stones just fall out.”

57. Have you ever had a social media item go viral?

They are far and few between, with most respondents to this question expressing sentiments along the lines of “No, but close.” Here are a few jewelers whose photos or videos did take off.

  • After the Thomas Fire destroyed our town of Ventura, CA, we gave diamond Ventura necklaces to people who lost their home. In my post, I asked for comments about other businesses/people who helped. People wanted to recognize others! It grew to over 100,000 comments and shares.
  • During lockdown, when my partner was driving into the parking lot, police cars, fire trucks, and ambulances were all blaring their horns and lights in honor of all of the frontline workers who were risking their lives every day. He caught it on video and posted it to our Facebook page, and it was our most shared post.
  • On Easter, I played “Amazing Grace” on bagpipes in front of our church. Almost a thousand shares.
  • We took an idea from a jewelers’ group to do a “Freebie Friday” campaign, where we had people like, share, and tag someone who was on the front lines in some way during the pandemic. Two people they tagged won bracelets.
  • COVID toilet paper sale for $4,500; free ring with purchase.

58. Who is the face of your social media presence?

It’s me!
My spouse, son/daughter
A staff member
Our pet
We don’t have one

59. Getting new customers is always a challenge. What’s worked best for you?

Word of mouth, referrals and online reviews are the top 3 winners cited in this category, followed by social media. And, then there’s divine intervention: “God seems to bring in the people for me. We have not advertised in 37 years and it’s all word of mouth.”

  • Hands down, with the research question we ask at take-in, how did you find us? Our top response is a personal recommendation. Next is they found us by our stellar online reviews, again recommendations!
  • Word of mouth. Customers bring in friends, or someone sees something I’ve made and is all, “Ooh, where’d you get that?”
  • Location, location, location. It’s true!
  • We pay our staff $5 for each Google review they get.
  • Giveaways on Facebook when someone has to tag two people and share the post to qualify.
  • We run radio campaigns offering five years interest free financing. Even if the customers don’t need it or use it, it does a great job bringing people in to see what we offer.

60. In the history of your store, what promotional offer elicited the most excitement from your market?

  • When the sub-prime mortgage wreaked havoc, we found ourselves short of cash. We called/texted/emailed 150 of our best clients and had an “Everything in the store is 50% Off” event for two hours on a Thursday evening. We generated about $80,000.
  • We held an estate event once and said Elizabeth Taylor was coming (small words indicated it was her jewelry, not her). The local news station came down and put me on camera live.
  • Did a commercial offering customers one dollar for the opportunity to buy their gold. It was by far the biggest boom to business we ever had.
  • My grandfather held a promotion where he announced that he would throw a diamond off of the roof of his store, along with a bunch of imitation diamonds. I was just a child, but I still hear stories of the chaos that ensued, as our small-town main street was flooded with people scrambling for the diamond.
  • A 4 Hour Christmas Eve Sale. Honestly, I just didn’t want to work all day on Christmas Eve. So, I posted on Facebook the night before about a “4 Hour Sale.” Best sale ever!

61. What “run of the mill” service or offer is most effective in getting customers back in the store?

Free cleaning and inspection
Limited time sales and promotions
Loyalty discounts/birthday specials
Free gift wrap
Special financing options (such as paying in interest-free installments)
Free battery replacement
Free insurance
Other (please specify)



She Wanted to Spend More Time with Her Kids. She Called Wilkerson.

Your children are precious. More precious than gold? Absolutely! Just ask Lesley Ann Davis, owner of Lesley Ann Jewels, an independent jewelry store that — until the end of 2023 — had quite a following in Houston, Texas. To spend more time with her four sons, all in high school, she decided to close her store. Luckily, she was familiar with Wilkerson and called them as soon as she knew she wanted to move on to bigger, better and more family-focused things. Was she happy with her decision? Yes, she was. Says Davis, “Any owner looking to make that life change, looking to retire, looking to close, looking for a pause in their career, I would recommend Wilkerson. Hands down!”

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