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The Big Survey 2018: Selling

See jewelry stores' best performers, top categories and expected breakout products.




What is selling in jewelry stores today — especially the thriving stores — and how are they selling it? The stores doing best are targeting millennials and professional women, and they’re more likely to prominently discount their “dogs.”


10. What are the 3 best-performing brand-name jewelry lines that you carry?

While the top two names remained the same from last year, Hearts on Fire made a big jump while Pandora dropped three places.


11. What do you think will be the next breakout trend in jewelry?

Top 10 Trends:
1. The return of yellow gold
2. Laboratory-created diamonds
3. Custom design
4. Color stones in engagement rings
5. A big look: Huge hoops, big dangles, long pendants
6. Engagement rings without halos
7. Baguettes
8. Estate, antique and vintage looks
9. Responsible sourcing
10. Rough-cut and rose-cut gemstones


12. What are the 3 best-performing watch brands that you carry?

1. Citizen
2. Seiko
3. Bulova

4. Rolex
5. Belair
6. Pulsar
7. Tissot
8. Tag Heuer
9. Obaku
10. Movado
10. Victorinox Swiss Army
12. Michelle
12. Reactor
15. Skagen
15. Timex
17. Shinola
17. Fossil
17. Luminox
20. Charles Hubert Paris
1. Citizen
2. Seiko
3. Bulova

4. Rolex
5. Belair
6. Pulsar
7. Tissot
8. Tag Heuer
9. Bering
10. Reactor



13. What is your core customer demographic?

This chart indicates the percentage breakdown of thriving stores, struggling stores and average stores by client demographic.

NOTE: The chart makes it clear, it’s more likely you’ll do well when your key customers are also doing well and have cash to spend on life’s nicer things.


14. When a piece of jewelry reaches “dog” status, what’s your typical markdown?

Less than 5%
More than 50%
I never mark down


15. Which age group do you consider your target demographic?

60s and older

Comment: The thriving stores are clearly focused on a younger cohort, and primarily on millennials, the oldest of whom turned 37 in 2018. In contrast, stores who have struggled over the past few years continue to pursue their older customers. Solving the riddle of how to cater to millennials clearly appears to be one of the keys to thriving in 2018.



16. For every 100 bridal rings you sell, how many do you sell in each metal type?


17. Merchandising Box. Please answer Yes or No.

Do you display prices prominently?
Do you have props in your display cases?
Do you have a sales/dogs/goodbye-to-old-friends case?
Do you have a “New Items” case?
Do you know your case sales per linear foot?
Do you offer profiles of artists you carry?
Do you use the Good/Better/Best principle in merchandising layout?

NOTE: Compared to their struggling peers, thriving stores are …
– More likely to have a good-bye to friends case
– Less likely to have a new items case
– More likely to offer profiles of artists
– Less likely to display prices prominently
– More likely to know their case sales per linear foot


18. Has the rise of millennials been good or bad for business?

COMMENT: This question produced one of the clearest points of separation between the thrivers and strugglers in 2018: Those stores having their best years have worked out how to ride the Millennial wave.



19. Which of the following would you regard as the demographic group with the most potential in the next 3 to 5 years?

Struggling stores seem to be overly focused on Baby Boomers and not interested enough in professional female purchasers.

COMMENT: Baby Boomers are still “self-indulgent” but they are ageing quickly, notes Sherry Smith, director of business development at the Edge Retail Academy. She adds that jewelers need to do a better job of catering to self-purchasers, especially professional women, who are likely to be in your store more than any other group of customers, particularly gift-buying men who are often the targets of jewelers’ marketing campaigns.

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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.



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

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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Big Survey

This Is How Often Most Jewelers Check Online Review Sites

It’s tough and time-consuming to stay on top.




YOU’VE LIKELY HEARD accounts of small-business owners, especially restaurant operators and hotel managers, who now live their lives as if at the mercy at review sites like Yelp or TripAdvisor. From the moment they wake up and take that first look at their phones until they take a final glance at their phone before turning into bed to see if someone has posted a negative review, such ratings sites have placed considerable power in the hands of the angry customer.

Well, jewelers, for the most part, aren’t like that. More than half, according to our 2019 Big Survey, check barely once a week.

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

That suggests both good and bad outcomes: Jewelers aren’t feeling overly burdened by the thought that business success is chained to their online reputation, but also that they might not be fully aware of how they are being perceived on the internet.


With studies showing that more than 80% of customers read online reviews before making a purchase, it’s obviously important to to know what’s being said about your business. But with an endless list of review sites from Yelp, to Google Reviews to comments on Facebook and Instagram and then the plethora of local listings, it’s tough and time-consuming to stay on top. Setting up a Google Alerts should be your first step. If you suspect reviews are having a significant impact on your business, consider investing in an online monitoring service, which will alert you when — in theory — a comment is posted somewhere online.

The 2019 Big Survey was conducted in September and October and attracted responses from more than 800 American jewelers. Look out for all the results in the November issue of INSTORE.

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