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Andrea Hill

Why Showcasing Unique Jewelry Can Help You Compete for Business

It’s not just about selling the jewelry itself; it’s about what the jewelry says about your store.




YOU HAVE ONE powerful advantage over any chain, department store, or online powerhouse: the power to be truly unique so you can avoid competing on price.

If your target customer is interested in jewelry, their news and social feeds are swimming in jewelry pictures, most of which look like a sea of sameness. As an independent retail jeweler, you have the flexibility to merchandise, and therefore market, unique pieces — a marketing advantage that is greatly under-utilized.

Estate Finds

With gold prices through the roof, you may be melting any off-the-street jewelry you manage to buy right now. But your estate case can be a gold mine without scrapping it. Millennials, Gen Z and Gen Alpha are fiends for resale. They love the secondhand market for its responsibility and because it allows them to express their individuality through one-of-a-kind pieces.

Most jewelers’ estate cases languish in a back corner of the store. Beyond the clean-up and prong-tightening, try giving your best pieces a sexy photo op and lots of social media exposure. Tell the backstory or history behind the style. Those pieces of jewelry stand out in news feeds and attract buyers looking beyond the pale.


Independent Designers

It’s tempting to get caught up in the idea that you must only buy from companies that are established, will be in business for years, offer collections and/or programs, and have a restocking policy. And for 97% of your inventory offering, that’s a good rule.

But you know what you can do with that other 3%? You can use it to make a statement … to stand out … to attract buyers desperate to see something that is not cookie cutter. Find a talented studio jeweler/designer, buy a few pieces, and promote the heck out of them. (Quick public service announcement here: Don’t ask for the goods on memo. Pay for them. You think cash flow is tight as a retailer? Independent artisans are smaller than you, and they aren’t banks.)

Give those pieces a sexy photo op and tell the story.

What If They Don’t Sell?

I can already hear some of you saying, “I’ve tried that. Those pieces don’t sell.” True, some might not sell, just as other pieces in your vault from established brands didn’t sell. This is the nature of being a merchant. I began my career as a buyer for a large chain where the mantra was “if you’re not buying some things that don’t sell, you’re not trying hard enough.”

What I am suggesting is tried-and-true merchandising strategy. Most haute couture runway fashion never sells, yet vast amounts are invested to produce the apparel and shows. Why? To create interest, brand awareness, and function as lead-ins to products that will sell. This is luxury marketing at its finest.

If you showcase estate and designer work, you’ll attract buyers who may not purchase the more unusual things, but they’ll purchase something else.


If your unusual products are priced right (high enough!), then waiting longer to sell them while they help differentiate your business will be worth it. In the meantime, you can use them as part of your wedding/event loaner jewelry for loyal clients, offer them for photo shoots for other businesses in your community, and encourage your sales staff to wear them to generate conversation.

What I am describing here is the work, the beating heart of being a merchant. This kind of creative, differentiating merchandising is almost impossible to do at scale. Use it to your competitive advantage and stand out from the crowd.



When the Kids Have Their Own Careers, Wilkerson Can Help You to Retire

Alex and Gladys Rysman are the third generation to run Romm Jewelers in Brockton, Mass. And after many decades of service to the industry and their community, it was time to close the store and take advantage of some downtime. With three grown children who each had their own careers outside of the industry, they decided to call Wilkerson. Then, the Rysmans did what every jeweler should do: They called other retailers and asked about their own Wilkerson experience. “They all told us what a great experience it was and that’s what made us go with Wilkerson.” says Gladys Rysman. The results? Alex Rysman says he was impressed. “We exceeded whatever I expected to do by a large margin.”

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