Wednesday, June 11, 2014

7 tips for gaining and retaining clients

While stores dedicate a significant portion of their marketing dollars on recruiting new clients, many forget about investing time and money on retaining clients, said retailer Peter Stavrianidis in his presentation at Conclave on Thursday.

Since the top 20 percent of a store’s clients generally generate about 80 percent of the business, mainly represented by these returning, loyal customers, retailers need to make sure these proven customers will stick around.

To create a well-rounded system, Stavrianidis, owner of Venus Jewelers in Somerset, N.J., recommends a “front end, back end” marketing process, putting a focus both on bringing new customers to the store and investing to keep them coming back.

The front end includes many of the traditional forms of advertising and marketing, including print media, social media, television and radio commercials and a presence in events in the local community, such as charity events or sponsorship.

Businesses have to be accommodating to the new clients that represent the front end, no matter how much profit they present, as they represent an opportunity to turn them into returning shoppers, Stavrianidis said.

But often more focus is put on this part of the business, and the strength behind the client database that the company has already built often remains untapped.

“Each company’s primary asset is its database or its back end,” he said. “The back end is the most underutilized asset by most businesses.”

Stavrianidis gave the following tips to help build a business that will both attract and retain customers:

1. Have an attractive space. It’s a reflection of the store as a brand, its image and the vision of the company. It also conveys a sense of confidence and success to your clients, attracting and bringing back the kind of customers a jeweler wants to keep.

2. Make sure there’s an ongoing training program for the whole sales team at the store. “There are always things we can learn, things we can do better with,” he said, as long as everyone is willing to learn. It also keeps the skills top of mind with the salespeople.

3. Create a mission statement. This gives your business direction and establishes the core values on which it will be built.

4. In the same vein, create a “vision” statement, which will be more specific about the goals that the business wants to achieve over the next few years.

5. Establish a code of conduct at the store and have all employees sign off on it so they know exactly what they should and should not do.

6. Create a company culture. It should be in accordance with the store’s style, vision, and mission. More time is spent in the workplace than at home these days, so it’s important to create that environment of respect and connectedness for employees, whose happiness affects sales, profits and the attitudes of those around them, including perceived image of your store by clients. Don’t be afraid to take action when an employee doesn’t fit into the culture, he said.

7. ‘Wow’ the customer every time. This business is about relationships, and jewelers keep customers loyal by keeping them content.

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

28 Carat D Flawless Diamond Sets Record at Hong Kong Auction

A 28 ct. D internally flawless diamond set a per-carat record at Sotheby’s April 8 Hong Kong sale of Magnificent Jewels and Jadeite. 
The stone, which had excellent cut, polish, and symmetry, achieved $6.9 million, or $239,352 per carat—a world record per-carat price for a round white diamond.
Other notable sales: 
  • A matched pair of diamond pendant earrings, each 8 cts., brought in $2.82 million. 
  • A 19.54 ct. cushion-shaped Colombian emerald and diamond ring took in $1.93 million, above its $1 million to $1.5 million estimate.

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

The Value Equation

The consumer buzzword is “value” and it is a highly personal thing. It’s not just about price, but what you’re getting for the price – quality, style, novelty, personal meaning, and a custom experience all create the value today’s consumers want. 

“Jewelry marketers must be willing to challenge old strategies and create new designs at new price points to be sold in new ways,” advocates retail consultant Kate Peterson, president of Performance Concepts, Montgomery Village, Maryland. She cites the decline of the Baby Boomer demographic. For every Boomer who drops out of the buying pool, two consumers from the next generation (age 18 to 45) are taking their place.

“What worked with the Boomers is not relevant with the next generation of consumers who are more educated, have more choices, and don’t mind waiting to get what they want,” emphasizes Peterson. She notes that consumers are not caught up in brand names as much as what the brand represents, providing jewelers with lots of opportunities to bring in new designers and generic brands that complement their identity.

Value is important across consumer segments. Even high-income consumers, who can afford what they want, are buying a broader range of products—opting for less-expensive metal and gem options with great design—from a more diverse group of retailers, reports Pam Danziger, president of Unity Marketing in Stevens, Pennsylvania.

According to Unity’s chief consumer economist, Tom Bodenberg, the current cultural climate does not support showy displays of luxury. “Affluents are reluctant to overindulge in extravagant spending. People with means want to make smart buying decisions; playing up the quality and value of a brand while downplaying the pure ‘luxury’ of it is key.”

Among the market’s top sellers, according to post holiday reports, are moderately priced fashion styles with an emphasis on color (gems and pearls), sterling silver, bridal with diamonds and gems, custom work, and customizable design options.

Danziger advocates jewelry marketers across the board create strategies around the features, benefits, and experiences consumers are willing to pay more to get. She cites Leo Schachter Diamonds as an innovator in creating value for its customers by positioning the diamonds it sells beyond the 4Cs. “They introduced the concept of brilliance that customers can see and experience.

Rather than having them look through a loupe to try to see features that only a trained jeweler can really distinguish, Leo Schachter Diamonds translated the concept of cut into what it means to customers. Brilliance makes a diamond brighter to the eye and creates a new, meaningful way to communicate value and quality.”

Peterson cites A. Jaffe: “I’m impressed by Firestar’s willingness to hold true to the decades old A. Jaffe brand promise. It continues to offer the better independent a high quality, classic design bridal line with enough distinguishing brand characteristics like nickel-free white gold, high-density castings, consistently high standards for setting and finishing and euro shanks. Most impressive is that they train retail salespeople to meet price resistance with consumer-specific value points. They understand that like most of us, the bridal consumer will spend more when they believe that they really are getting more for what they spend.”

 The Key: Understand what’s important to your customer. It’s not one size fits all.

Monday, March 4, 2013

The Perfect Wedding Ring

The wedding ring is perhaps the single most important piece of jewelry that you will give to your spouse in your lifetime. It is important that you choose a timeless ring that will not become outdated or unstylish after a length of time. Men and women have different options available to them when choosing a wedding ring and it is not required that they choose matching rings.

The couple traditionally picks out their rings together so there is no need for either the bride or groom to become unnecessarily stressed out about choosing the perfect wedding ring. Choosing the rings together takes a great deal of pressure off of the couple because they do not have to worry that their spouse may not like the ring that is expected to last for their entire lifetime.

The material of the ring is an important consideration for both men’s and women’s rings. The most common materials include gold, silver and platinum although the rings can be made of any material that the couple chooses. Gold is the most popular wedding ring material. Gold can be 14 karat gold, 18 karat gold and 24 karat gold. Of these three options 14 karat gold is the type that is most recommended for wedding rings. 14 karat gold is durable without sacrificing luster. 18 karat gold can also be used for wedding rings but because it is a softer metal it is more prone to scratches. 24 karat gold is even softer than 18 karat gold and many do not recommended creating rings out of 24 karat gold because it is so prone to scratches. Silver is another metal that can also be used in creating a wedding ring. Silver is a soft white metal that is very soft and therefore prone to scratching. Additionally it is also prone to tarnishing and discolorations but it is still a popular choice because of its relatively low cost. Platinum is a precious metal that is becoming increasingly popular as wedding ring material. Although platinum is considered too soft to be used in making rings, small amounts of ruthenium and iridium can be added to platinum to increase the hardness and result in a wedding ring that is extremely durable.

After choosing a metal for the wedding ring, it is time to consider the style of the ring. When it comes to style there are even more options available then there are for metals. Some of the basic wedding ring styles include flat bands, half-round bands and comfit bands. A flat band is one that is rectangular in cross section. These types of bands are also decorated with engravings. Half-round bands are the most traditional style available. These bands are flat on the underside or against the finger and have an arched structure on the top. Comfort-fit bands feature an oval cross section and they are heavier and more expensive than the other types of rings. If a bride intends to wear her wedding band with her engagement ring, she should consider choosing a wedding band style that matches her engagement ring so that neither one overpowers the other.

Once you have decided on a metal and style, it is time to choose whether or not to engrave your wedding ring. A good jeweler should be capable of engraving anything you want onto your ring including letters, numbers and symbols. Many couples choose to have their names or initial along with the wedding date engraved on the inside of the ring. This is not necessary though as the couple is not required to have the rings engraved. If the couple does opt for engraving though, they must realize that they can choose to engrave anything they wish on the rings. It could either be names and the wedding date or a phrase that has significant meaning to the couple.
The wedding ring is a very important piece of jewelry because it is meant to be worn for a lifetime. When choosing a wedding ring the material of the ring, the style of the ring and whether or not to include an engraved sentiment are just a few of the factors to consider. Shopping for a wedding ring can be a wonderful experience if the couple makes an effort to enjoy the experience instead of stressing about it.

Let the experts at Elie International help you in your quest for the ideal ring.

Metal Education: White Gold

White gold is quickly becoming the most popular style of gold. Often, white gold is purchased in 14 carat jewelry because it looks more similar to platinum. White gold basically has the same attributes as yellow gold, except it is mixed with different metals - nickel, zinc, silver and palladium - that give it a white color.

Often, white gold is plated with rhodium. Rhodium is a shiny, white metal that is a member of the platinum family, and is used to give white gold an even whiter appearance. White gold is a great choice to compliment very white diamonds, as it strongly enhances their brilliance and sparkle.

Caring for White Gold
Even though gold is resilient, there are still measures you can take to keep you jewelry looking good as new. First, be sure to store your gold jewelry in a soft cloth bag or a fabric-lined jewelry box. Second, be sure to keep your gold jewelry away from corrosive chemicals. Third, clean your gold with mild soap and warm water only. Make sure to use a non-metallic, soft brush (like a toothbrush.) Forth, make sure to dry your gold with a lint-free towel (no paper towels.)

Monday, February 25, 2013

The Shell Game - Alive and Well on 47th Street!

We are all familiar with the shell game. A pea is hidden under one shell (out of three), as they are moved around quickly, you guess where the pea is and win, you guess wrong – you lose! This also happens in the jewelry business, where sleight of hand can conveniently mismatch a certificate of authenticity with a stone of less value.

Recently, a couple went to a wholesaler on 47th street in New York's Diamond Distruct for a diamond ring purchase. They knew exactly what they wanted and had already compared prices at several shops. The couple selected a diamond and ring combination that retailed for $15,000 – the wholesaler was able to give it to them for about a third less. The wholesaler, needing some time to prepare the merchandise, suggested the couple to get some lunch, however – they never came back. Long story short, it was found that when they went downstairs they were pulled into one of the stores (on 47th street) by a hawker. The couple relayed the deal they made with the wholesaler and were offered the same pieces for $2,000 less. There’s no way a retailer could offer a lower price than a wholesaler – something was clearly wrong! A few days later, a follow up with the couple revealed that they were given a certificate for a $10,000 stone (for which they paid $7,500.) It was suggested that they go to a local jeweler with the stone and certificate to verify the match. Surprise! The stone was not the one they selected. It was switched in the store and it didn’t match what was on the certificate.

These things happen all the time, day in and day out. Intense competition breeds desperation and criminal behavior. The lesson here is as follows:

1) Diamonds are a commodity with a low markup on all ends.
2) Beware of any deals that seem too good to be true.
3) Only a gemologist is able to match a stone to a certificate.

For more information, contact our knowledgeable staff at Elie International:

Monday, February 11, 2013

Metal Education: Platinum


Platinum is one of the rarest metals and so it is extremely valuable. The annual worldwide production of platinum is only around 160 tons. Compare that to the approximate 1,500 tons of gold being produced worldwide per year and you can understand platinum's huge appeal. Plus, it can only be found in very few regions of the world, with South Africa leading the way. Simply put, platinum is more valuable than gold and more expensive too.

Platinum has grown increasingly popular in recent years due to its great beauty and durability. Its rich color and sheen makes platinum a popular choice for settings, because the sparkle and brilliance of a diamond are greatly magnified on a platinum setting. While all metals scratch, when platinum is scratched, the metal is merely displaced.

One of platinum's greatest assets is that it is very strong and can withstand a lot of stress - more so than any other precious metal. No matter what fine gemstone or diamond you choose as a center jewel, color is one of the primary determiners of the rarity and therefore the cost. Diamonds with little or no color are typically most desirable. Consequently, the optimal setting is a white metal that won't reflect color into the stone. Platinum is a naturally pure white metal that will keep its brilliant white luster. All gold is naturally yellow metal. White gold is mixed with other alloys to make it look white, and over time it will lose its whiter shade and begin to yellow. In order to maintain its white look, it may need to be re-plated during its lifetime.

Caring for Platinum Jewelry

If platinum is worn daily, it may develop a slight sheen. Although most people prefer this look, you can always have a jeweler polish and restore it to its original shine. Soaking platinum jewelry in a mild solution of soap and warm water and gently scrubbing it with a soft-bristled brush is pretty much all that is needed to keep the metal looking good. To keep your jewelry shining and scratch-free, store them in their original boxes, soft cloth bags, or a fabric-lined jewelry box.