Talking to Cathy Tivol of Kansas’ Tivol Jewelry Stores



In the Midwest, fashion and jewelry trends take time to catch on. This can make merchandising challenging—especially for a luxury jewelry retailer who travels the international jewelry and watch circuit ingesting every next-best-thing seasons before it hits shelves.

Cathy Tivol, the third-generation owner of Tivol fine jewelry stores, has grown the business her grand­father Charles Tivol founded in 1910 to encompass two massive 6,000-square-foot locations—in Kansas City, Mo., and Overland Park, Kan.—by consistently mining the sweet spot between stylishness and timelessness for her loyal clientele.

The stores feature a panoply of top luxury brands: Rolex, David Yurman, Patek Philippe, H.Stern, Forevermark, and Cartier, among them. But Tivol also caters to young and style-minded buyers with cool, well-priced collections including Shinola and Marco Bicego.

“We try to get the best lines in each category,” she says. “I believe we do very well at market when we go to JCK Las Vegas and Baselworld, which allows us to be ahead of the curve in our area, but not too far ahead. It can be hard. When gold started coming back several years ago, it took Kansas City a little while to get there. Now yellow gold is back with a vengeance.”

The trend is so red-hot, all the new collections Tivol purchased this year are yellow gold–centric. And she’s betting big on the metal’s popularity this holiday season. “We’re going to have a big focus on the return of yellow gold and fashion jewelry,” she says, citing Penny Preville, Ray Griffiths, and Anita Ko—all primarily gold collections—as lines she and her staff of 55 employees will be showcasing.

Tivol also thinks strong ­geometric shapes and pieces with celestial motifs—namely starbursts—will continue their popularity throughout the season. “Anything celestial or astrological has been a huge trend this year for us,” says the retailer. The celestial craze even prompted a “Star Struck”–themed winter issue of its in-house magazine, Tivol.

She’s also excited about a clutch of retro styles returning to market. “Button earrings and ear climbers are really back, and are selling well,” she reports. “I had a client come in who wanted gold button clip earrings the other day, and we had them. A year ago, we would have had to turn her away.”

As a company, Tivol has been upping the ante on bridal after losing some market share in the category to lower-priced competitors earlier in the decade. “Bridal has become much more of a focus for us in the past couple of years because we…were not aggressive enough in our marketplace with pricing,” Tivol says. “We like to have bridal that other stores don’t have.”

To increase its edge in the category, the retailer took on Forevermark, the classic-with-a-twist collection from De Beers, in 2013. It’s been a perfect fit for her customers, says Tivol, adding that the company’s holiday sales make up around one-third of its annual revenue.

Merchandise aside, “having a story associated with a brand is becoming more important,” Tivol says, “which is a huge reason I love Forevermark and Shinola. Anything we can do as sales associates to relate to the customer in a warm and inviting way is great.”

This holiday season, Tivol will host a designer event showcasing five different collections. To promote the event, she says, “we will increase our marketing dollars and take a multimedia approach in our advertising,” including video placement on streaming TV network Hulu and online radio service Pandora. “We will also up our TV and newspaper buys and send out systematic social media and direct emails. It’s really about getting the word out.”