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On Uninvited Sales Reps, Lab-Grown Diamonds, Vendor Betrayal and More of Your Letters from October

See what our readers had to say this month.

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Hating Drop-Ins

Sales reps showing up at your store without a phone call or email sent announcing their plans to stop by is unacceptable. I have all respect for traveling salesmen, but this method of just dropping in will do nothing but get you sent right out. What would happen if I showed up at one of my customer’s offices unannounced with a briefcase full of merchandise and expected them to stop what they were doing? They would tell me to get out and not come back. There’s no difference. If traveling sales reps want retailers to respect them, then they need to respect retailers. — Marc Majors, Sam L. Majors, Midland, TX

Podcast: Doug Meadows Shares the Ups and Downs of His Life as a Jeweler
JimmyCast

Podcast: Doug Meadows Shares the Ups and Downs of His Life as a Jeweler

Podcast: Against the Odds, a High School Student Fights to Keep the Family Jewelry Store Alive
Over the Counter

Podcast: Against the Odds, a High School Student Fights to Keep the Family Jewelry Store Alive

Podcast: Doug Hucker Discusses His Colorful Life on ‘The Barb Wire’
The Barb Wire

Podcast: Doug Hucker Discusses His Colorful Life on ‘The Barb Wire’

Deep Value Naturally

After recently reading a blog from a well-known lab-grown diamond producer about diamond formation, I would agree about one thing. Given the right conditions and sufficient flux of nutrient carbon, natural occurring diamonds can grow to gemological size in hours or days, faster than the lab processes. They are incorrect to say that natural diamonds grow in hours based on the rates of in-lab growth, because both rely on a sufficient flux of carbon. In the earth’s mantle, carbon is present at part per million levels, and it may take eons for sufficient carbon to diffuse to a site of crystallization to form a natural occurring gemological diamond. — Randy Stricklin, GIA GG, Oklahoma City, OK

Time To Go Solo

After 45 years in the ever-changing jewelry business and after spending the last 25 years running and owning my own store, it’s time to go solo and open a design studio. Thank you for the article in a past issue about others going solo — the timing could not have been better! Looking forward to the next chapter, or should I say, next jewel in my crown! — Frank Salinardi, Linardi’s Jewelers, Plantation, FL

Fuzzy Math

As things have slowed down in a lot of stores, wholesalers are tempted to go direct in the hunt for a retail sale. What they don’t seem to take into consideration is that when a store does business with them, that store represents approximately 30 people who have an interest in their product. So when a vendor bypasses that connection, they might pick up a couple of sales, but in reality they lose that 30 (or more) from the store. — Alex Weil, Martin’s Jewelry, Torrance, CA

Things Change

I’ve had the great fortune of owning my store for 35 years. Things have constantly changed, but the rate of change accelerated since the advent of the Internet and social media. Thanks for supplying the necessary information to consider ways we can all adapt. Keep encouraging us to excel in all phases of our industry. — Ernie Cummings, Kizer Cummings Jewelers, Lawrence, KS

Be Honest

Synthetic diamonds will surely find their place in the market, as have manmade rubies, emeralds and others. Allowing consumers to have choices is what retailing is about, but the bad actors are going to seize the day and will use this opportunity to cheat honest, hard-working people in all aspects of our industry. — Robert Borneman, Diamond Jewelers, Centereach, NY

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It Was Hawaii Day at Gene the Jeweler’s Store … Or Was It?

In this episode of Jimmy DeGroot’s satirical Gene the Jeweler series, Gene learns that it was Hawaii Day at his store. At least that’s what his employee, Jeremy, says. But Jeremy’s answers aren’t quite adding up. It’s hard to say what this “Hawaii Day” was really all about.

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Readers Sound Off On E-Commerce, Signet and Millennials

There’s hope in the form of Generation Z.

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Forward Revolution

The jewelry industry is undergoing significant changes because the concept of jewelry has changed. The very high-end luxury goods markets seem to be holding, but the squeezing of the middle class has changed disposable income. Who is buying the jewelry has changed as well. Self-purchasers prevail in this era of self (and selfie) celebration. These factors have evolved my purchasing and merchandising strategies. A pared-down inventory with only essential quick-sellers in understock coupled with targeted memo support is the new reality today for profitability. For their support, vendors must be viewed and treated as true business partners, not simply suppliers. This wasn’t how we did things in the past, but it has been instrumental in not just surviving but thriving. You adapt or die.

Podcast: Doug Meadows Shares the Ups and Downs of His Life as a Jeweler
JimmyCast

Podcast: Doug Meadows Shares the Ups and Downs of His Life as a Jeweler

Podcast: Against the Odds, a High School Student Fights to Keep the Family Jewelry Store Alive
Over the Counter

Podcast: Against the Odds, a High School Student Fights to Keep the Family Jewelry Store Alive

Podcast: Doug Hucker Discusses His Colorful Life on ‘The Barb Wire’
The Barb Wire

Podcast: Doug Hucker Discusses His Colorful Life on ‘The Barb Wire’

E-commerce alone does not bring enough people through your door. We have found a way to give our clients the opportunity to do research on our website, narrow their selection and then come into our store for the final decision and purchase. We do this via our partnership with Stuller and the free addition of their online selling platform, which includes a cart system. It’s an easy addition to any website, it drives traffic to the store and it increases our online presence. — Jessica Rossomme, Mucklow’s Fine Jewelry, Peachtree City, GA

E-Futility

I have two stores; both have excellent web presence, nice SEOs, solid cost-per-click campaigns, display ad campaigns, and a nice social media following. Our websites show our inventory, which can be purchased online. We have included the e-commerce option in all of our advertising and marketing and even coded the site to offer sale discounts during events and holidays. All of this has been in place for six-plus months, and we are still yet to sell a single piece through the site. How about that! — Chad Elliott Coogan, Gems of La Costa, Carlsbad, CA

Hard to Keep Up

Trying to stay ahead of the many changes Google, Instagram and Facebook make after we have somewhat mastered their previous algorithms is a career in itself! Wish there were some Cliff Notes for us retailers! — Susan Eisen, Susan Eisen Fine Jewelry & Watches, El Paso, TX

Signet Silence

Why are we not talking about Signet and sexual assault? Talk about taking the glamour out of jewelry — or is this entire industry tone-deaf? — Alan Lindsay, Henry’s, Cape May, NJ

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Letters from Readers on Failure, Trade Shows and More

One reader advises making up for lost sales online with higher repair prices.

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On “The Failure Issue”

Chris Burslem’s article [“Epic Fail”] gives you a definite perspective. We’re all trying to become better jewelers. Sometimes having to throw the dice really works. — Bruce Goodheart, Burnells Creative Gold, Wichita, KS

It’s sitting right next to me here on my nightstand. I haven’t read it yet, but I’m looking forward to it. Though I’ve had so many epic fails over the past seven years that the lead story title is making my PTSD flare up and giving me little panic attacks. I’m laughing as I write this, but I’m actually serious. — Andrea Riso, Talisman Collection, El Dorado Hills, CA

Making Up for Lost Profits

I feel our industry should wake up and realize that the Internet is here to stay, and it is just another progression in how the customer prefers to shop. We used to have corner grocery stores and then supermarkets — now we just place an order and drive up for pickup or have them delivered.

Jewelry stores that offer sizing and jewelry repair need to recognize that this is a service that cannot be performed online (but that day may soon come). This is an extra value to the customer who buys online, and if we don’t make profit on the sale of an item, we should consider making up the difference on this value we bring to the customer along with the trust we can instill. I have been using David Geller’s Blue Book for quite some time and have had very few objections to his prices, including when I charge more because folks mention they bought online. — Bill Brundage, Bill Brundage Jewelers, Louisville, KY

Now’s the Time

The greatest time to grow is when everyone else is stagnant because they are worried about the economy. — Bill Jones, Sissy’s Log Cabin, Little Rock, AR

High Cost of Attendance

It was interesting to see that at Baselworld, the big news was the high cost of either going or exhibiting. With the Vegas show coming up and the ridiculous costs involved in attending, will people label the costs as “just not worth it”? — Alex Weil, Martin’s Jewelry, Torrance, CA

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On Extreme Customer Service, Here Are Your Thoughts

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Customer service makes or breaks a business. Occasionally you have to think outside of the box or go to the extreme to make a difference, so it was nice to see this theme this month. — Wadeana Beveridge, Community Jewelry Inc., Brandon, FL

I love the extreme customer service story. I think it’s the perfect time of year to focus on a story like that — the busy holiday season has come and gone, and so has Valentine’s Day, so it’s important to remind employees to keep their enthusiasm up and focus on fabulous customer service even though business has slowed down a little. — Sydney Moss, Burkes Fine Jewelers, Kilmarnock, VA

The customer is not always right. I feel like it’s my job to tell them that. They think they understand about jewelry, but in reality, they don’t. So it’s my job to teach them, explain to them why certain things can’t be done. Such as adding a halo to a 20 year-old setting for 500 bucks. — Christopher Sarraf, Nuha Jewelers, Plainview, NY

Survival of the Fittest

The jewelry trade is starting to remind me of the travel agent business years ago. Our customers are trying to go straight to the source and eliminate us. That’s the reason only the strong will survive. — Tommy Navarra, Navarra’s, Lake Charles, LA

Fading Luster

I’m worried about the direction of our industry. Lately I have seen more and more people just looking for a service rather than making a purchase. “We bought this online and need it sized.” Or “we bought this in St. Thomas and need it appraised and sized/fitted.” Loyalty is falling by the wayside, and the Internet is leading consumers to believe that they should be able to walk into a brick-and-mortar retailer store and pick up anything they want at a price they saw online. I hope this is just a phase or slump in our industry and that things will turn around soon. The luster to this beautiful business is wearing off and I need it to get reapplied very soon. — Marc Majors, Sam L. Majors, Midland, TX

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