Last updateWed, 19 Oct 2016 12am

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Retailer Roundtable: Do you sell or plan to sell lab-grown diamonds in your store?

Q: Do you sell or plan to sell lab-grown diamonds in your store?

“This is a hot topic which was addressed in part at the recent AGS Conclave. Right now, we’re seeing the slight opening of the Pandora’s Box. The industry first saw the commoditization of diamonds with price controls and price listings. Now we have lab-grown diamonds. The GIA recently stated, in some recent batch testing of natural diamond melee parcels, some were showing a mixture of about 1 percent being lab grown. People may not be doing this purposely, but it is happening in the supply chain. And, when jewelers melt down scrap jewelry and float the stones and then re-purpose them, there are no checks and balances regarding how these [melee synthetics] go back into the system [supply chain]. I have sold synthetic diamonds in the past, but do not carry them as part of my inventory. In our market there are lots of advertisements for synthetic diamonds, so it’s a necessary evil we’ll have to deal with as customers that request them are shopping with cost savings as a motivating factor. To me the cost saving between a customer buying a synthetic diamond vs. a mined diamond is very similar to selling them a clarity-enhanced mined diamond to non-clarity-enhanced mined diamond. The savings to the customer is about the same. Do we try to dissuade people from buying a synthetic or clarity-enhanced diamond, no. But the retailer and his staff should present all options to the customer to honor their requests for such a product or to be in line with their budget.”

Retailer Roundtable: What was your best store promotion?

Q: What was your best store promotion?

“For a number of years we’ve held a VIP event and an 11-Hour Sale usually scheduled after Thanksgiving Day and before early December. The VIP event is like a customer appreciation event in that we cater to our top customers with an invite-only party. The two events run over three days from Thursday to Saturday. On the Thursday of the scheduled weekend we close the store all day and open our doors for the evening event. We want it to be an exclusive event with special pricing, swag bags, serving drinks and hors d’oeuvres, and even have some giveaways for added fun. Although it’s a VIP event, if people walk in during the event, of course they’re welcome. On Friday we host our 11-Hour sales event. This day is open to the public and has been heavily advertised throughout all forms of media. Friday is an easy set up considering we spent the entire day prior posting signs in cases, individually marking jewelry down, and preparing for the VIP event. As a surprise to the public and our customers we extend the event through Saturday for any last minute sales or customers who may have missed our event. We don’t advertise the Saturday portion of the two-day event until Saturday morning through different forms of social media, and always honor the discounts that day. After 10-plus years, the event has gotten bigger and better. People ask about and anticipate the event. Some may not buy over the course of the three days, but for those we add items to wish lists or plant seeds for future sales.”

Revering a retiring patriarch, new generation at Ohio’s Leo Alfred Jewelers embraces simple recipe for success

Leo ownersWhat makes Leo Alfred Jewelers in Dublin, Ohio, a special place? It’s a poignant subject these days. Tom Laudick, who has been in the jewelry industry for much of his life, retires this year but leaves an indelible mark on the next generation.

“Every jeweler feels what they do is special, and it is - we all just do it differently,” says Kevin Laudick, co-owner at Leo Alfred and Tom’s nephew. “Retail jewelry really is very simple, and Tom knew it best when he came up with our business model: ‘We are here to help our customers acquire, maintain and dispose of fine jewelry.’ Sounds simple, right? It is, because all we have to do is provide quality merchandise at a fair value and do it with exceptional service. That’s it. If we do that we have nothing to worry about.

Russell Mefford - Jeweler by day, Southern Rocker by night

If you’re a Southern rock fan you know the difference between music that comes out of Macon as opposed to Memphis or Athens. For a more funky sound look no further than Muscle Shoals, Alabama. From FAME Studios where the likes of Percy Sledge, Aretha Franklin and Otis Redding recorded, to the famous Muscle Shoals Sound Studio which hosted Lynyrd Skynyrd, The Staple Singers, Bob Seger and the Rolling Stones, Muscle Shoals is known for its legendary music and famous musicians. 

Industry writer goes from writing retail to working it

Paul Holewa, a freelance writer for Southern and Mid-AmericaJewelry News, has worked as a trade journalist since 1995. For most of that time, he has learned about best retailer practices by networking with and interviewing top jewelry store owners and industry leaders. But since October 2013, he has added another method of expanding his jewelry retail sales knowledge, working full time as a jewelry sales associate. 

Ware Jewelers celebrates 70 years of small town, top notch business

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, approximately 50 percent of small businesses fail within 5 years and by year 10 the percentage that succeed drops to the mid-thirties.

Ware Jewelers in Auburn, Alabama has defied the odds and this year is celebrating their 70th anniversary. Located in a college town with a community population of approximately 60,000 people, their chance for survival seems even smaller than the national average. But Ronnie and Tina Ware, second generation owners, take pride in defying the odds, just like Ronnie’s father Lamar, who founded the store.

Retailer Roundtable: How do you manage your store’s social media?

Q: How do you manage your store’s social media?

“We’ve been managing social media in-house for many years. When the person that used to do our advertising went on maternity leave, she asked if she could manage our social media platforms part time. We were open to that proposal and quickly found out it was working well for us. The main reason, she gets us. She understands what we’re trying to do and what we’re all about. Also, it’s [social media] never about hard selling, but more about content that is conversational and fun. We upload product shots, but also content that shows our Facebook and social media followers’ content that allows them to better understand the store and the staff. A favorite series of postings on Facebook was a profile image of staff members with a caption that detailed favorite pieces of jewelry in the store, along with some work experience and personal information. Also, real success is measured by those that follow our store’s social media platforms. On Facebook, since June 2015 we expanded our fan base from 4,000 to 6,700. And, our social media manager is always curious about how these platforms are constantly changing, allowing us to keep content fresh and interesting.”

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