Ten steps to selling designer jewelry

Cindy Edelstein, designer jewelry advocate and president of the Jeweler’s Resource Bureau, says there are 10 ways to promote and sell designer jewelry even in tough times. “There are some success stories out there,” Edelstein said during a Wednesday seminar titled “Selling Designer Jewelry in a Tight Economy.” Here are her 10 tips for success:

1. Keep moving. Specifically, change your displays often, redecorate your store, and rotate stock. (Sometimes you can trade out a piece that isn’t selling for another piece from the same designer.) In addition, be sure to highlight trends. You can use magazines such as InStyle and Vogue to get an idea about what trends are in fashion. Finally, offer reasons to come into the store—create events. “It’s all about the hook to get them in,” said Edelstein. “Keep stimulating the customer.” You may need to “retire” a piece of jewelry or a designer for a while. “Then bring it out fresh,” she said.

2. Use public appearances and trunk shows. Public appearances by designers are wonderful events that can draw customers into your store. Use invitations, advertising, telephone calls, and more telephone calls. “You can’t just throw a party,” Edelstein said. “This takes a lot of calling and invitations.” She advised using direct mail and an ad in the paper that reads, “meet the designer.” Give your customer a reason for coming. “Tea and scones with a new British designer” or “Saturday morning with Suzy,” were two examples of ways to get the customer’s attention. “No speeches needed,” said Edelstein. “Just schmoozing.” Having the designer in the store adds romance to the sale. It also adds stock, since designers bring their entire lines. They are there to talk about their jewelry. Your staff is there to sell. And the designer will usually leave the goods for a week or so for those people who are not able to come in on the special event day.

3. Find something meaningful. Examples include jewelry with a message, such as pieces with a heart motif; sentimental tokens (i.e., memento jewelry); and charms. Edelstein also discussed statements of love. “Consumers want to connect with jewelry,” she said. Examples were Susan Hemlich’s “Angels with an Attitude,” and Takohl’s “Treasure Rings.”

4. Uniqueness counts. Look at one-of-a-kind items and quick trends, and work closely with a supplier, Edelstein suggested. She also mentioned long-term trends and recommended looking for hand-hammered gold and beads. She also discussed Mokume, the ancient sword-making technique, which can provide uniqueness. Each piece is hand made and can give a retailer something to talk about, rather than the usual “18k, bezel set,” etc.

5. Customizing. Consider remounts, redesigns, or custom designs. Contact a local designer to come in for the day. Focus on charm bracelets, mothers’ jewelry, and “embracelets.”

6. Stock affordable designs. Many designers now focus on the $2,500-and-under category. “ ‘Designer’ doesn’t mean expensive,” Edelstein noted. She gave as examples Aaron Henry’s pendants and Jane Wullbrandt’s big stone rings.

7. Make a commitment. Go deeper into one or two designers rather than dabbling in three or four, and go wide and deep in each price point. In addition, have “enough” of a connection—remember, the first five of ten will sell, but the last five will be slow. Finally, train your staff and invite the designer to come in and rev them up.

8. Have every price point. Partner with a designer who has a broad and deep inventory. “Choose a designer who has ‘pretty’ at every price point,” Edelstein suggested.

9. Put the emphasis on value. Keep in mind that there’s value in “hand made,” and more skill goes into a designer piece, which can also be customized for the customer. But don’t think you’re selling designer jewelry if you’re selling a knock-off, Edelstein cautioned. “All you get to talk about is price when you sell a knock-off,” she said.

10. Make it fun! “Selling designer jewelry is the fun part of our business,” Edelstein said.