As anyone who’s whiled away an evening “pinning” can attest, Pinterest is something of an addiction. Millions of users can’t seem to get enough of the 3-year-old social scrapbooking site. The latest Pew Research Center poll shows Pinterest is nearly even with Twitter; each site hosts about 15 percent of online adults—most of them female. As of September, comScore counted more than 25 million unique visitors on Pinterest, up from the 11.7 million it counted at the start of 2012. Pinterest doesn’t talk numbers but some sources estimate the site has some 50 million users. To put that figure in perspective, Vogue—the most influential fashion magazine in the world—counts a total circulation of about 1 million. And Pinterest’s referral traffic recently surpassed Google’s, according to the online sharing service Shareaholic.
© Larry Stanley
When Jewelry Studio in Bozeman, Mont., posted this image of Tanner and Heidi, winners of the 2011 Gift Worth Giving campaign, to its Pinterest board, traffic spiked—as did sales to out-of-town clients.
Those kinds of numbers are catnip for online marketers eager to share products or drive traffic to their websites. Not surprisingly, fine jewelry purveyors are flocking to the medium, having found that its visual nature makes it the ideal promotional vehicle.
If you’ve never visited the site, here’s how it works: Pinterest bills itself as a tool for collecting and organizing visuals you love. A “pin” is typically an image—sometimes a video—found on the Web and posted on a board for a topic that can be anything from architecture and animals to fashion and jewelry. You can follow other pinners while they can see your boards. Images can be pinned and re-pinned, setting in motion a photographic journey that can pass through numerous users. The beauty for businesses is that the pin always links back to its original source.
Photo by Monica Valenzuela of Hart & Sol East
Bozeman’s Jewelry Studio flaunted this pic of stencils on a sidewalk, taken at a recent bridal event, on Pinterest, catching the attention of pinners, and converting many into buyers.
“Pinterest for jewelers: If you’re not on it, you should be,” says Jill Schreibman, director of social media at Alson Jewelers in Cleveland. Since she started pinning last February, she has attracted 1,200 followers to her boards featuring jewelry designers, diamonds, and watches. The activity has converted into sales. One user saw an engagement ring pin and made an in-person visit to the store to purchase it. “It’s perfect for what we have, what we sell, and what we’re all about,” Schreibman says. “It’s a great opportunity because when someone re-pins your pin, it’s endless.”
Thanks to Pinterest, Jewelry Studio in Bozeman, Mont., has broadened its geographical reach and picked up out-of-state clients as well as fans of the store’s gift and event ideas boards. A recent pin of stencils on a sidewalk for a bridal event piqued quite a bit of interest, says Patsy Saatjian, co-owner of the store. “It’s a great way to show custom work and to promote the fact that we are a tax-free state,” she says. “About 25 percent of our sales are driven from social media. Within that 25 percent, Pinterest is our highest draw.”
© Larry Stanley
The 2013 winner of a wedding paid for by charity shows off a ring given to her by Jewelry Studio, which featured the pic on its Pinterest board.
For brides-to-be, Pinterest fulfills the same role fashion, jewelry, and bridal magazines did for brides past. The weddings category, one of the site’s most popular topics, is filled with dresses, cake ideas, and hairstyles. Engagement rings are front and center with pinners posting anything from traditional halo styles to avant-garde brown sapphires. One Pinterest user named a board “Dear David, I like these rings. Love, Sarah,” a not-so-subtle way to give a would-be groom some helpful style suggestions and info on exactly where to buy them.
Bobbie Springer, a sales associate at Goldstein’s Jewelry in Mobile, Ala., recently saw a similar scenario play out when a customer who’d seen an engagement ring on his girlfriend’s Pinterest board came in looking for the ring. “He said, ‘I saw it on her Pinterest site so I know she wants it,’?” Springer says. “We were able to pull it out and go with it.”
Sadko Sea Horse brooch in 18k gold and silver with diamonds, demantoids, alexandrites, paraibas, tsavorites, and sapphires; $280,804; Fabergé, NYC; 646-559-8848; faberge.com
Experts are divided as to why Pinterest has risen so rapidly from the ranks of popular to phenomenal status. This is not the first time an online social scrapbooking site has shown tremendous marketing potential. Big brands have rallied around Polyvore, which invites users to create photo collages. But most people would agree that Pinterest has surpassed Polyvore and some say that’s because of its aspirational nature. Unlike Facebook or Twitter, pins more often communicate who we want to be, not who we are—which, by the way, resonates perfectly with the fine jewelry category.
Pinterest recently overhauled its design, making images larger and offering like items from a source when viewing a pin in a single format. Its clean, grid-like composition with captions on oversized images is easy to understand and navigate. Polyvore itself has used Pinterest to bring its unique visitors to 15 million.
Rachel Ball sells her Elephantine jewelry line—including this $35 Conmigo sterling silver necklace—on Etsy, and pins images of the products to her Pinterest board as soon as they’re listed.
Pinterest, in turn, has made it a priority to partner with corporate entities. Companies like online ready-to-wear site Net-a-Porter and Etsy feature Pin It buttons on each item listing page. Rachel Ball, a seller on Etsy, pins products to her boards as soon as they’re listed for sale. “My Pinterest account encapsulates the kind of lifestyle that pairs well with my jewelry,” she says. “I don’t produce look books, so in certain ways, my pins are a look book for my brand.”
The site also has updated back-end features such as onboard analytics. Site owners now can determine how people are interacting with pins originating from their websites, how many people have pinned from the site, how many have visited the site, as well as the most re-pinned, most clicked, and most recent pins.
“My pins are a look book for my brand,” says Etsy seller Rachel Ball, whose Nova 14k gold-filled studs appear on her Pinterest board.
Beauty company Sephora says it gets valuable feedback on what beauty lists, color swatches, and face charts garner the most pins by using Pinterest Web Analytics. “Pinterest is the perfect venue to visually share shoppable new products, how-tos, and cool images,” says Julie Bornstein, executive vice president and chief marketing and digital officer of Sephora, adding that Pinterest has become a top referring site for the company. “It’s a place to get inspired by beauty.”
Pinterest users are big spenders too. The average follower spends 15 times more money on Sephora.com than the average Facebook fan, the company says.
Jewelry store owners say watching activity on Pinterest is a good way to stay abreast of overarching trends and discover emerging talent with the added bonus of seeing how customers are responding in real time. “Instead of looking at fashion magazines, you can actually see what clients are liking in the way of clothing,” Saatjian says. The site also gives buyers a window into what the competition is promoting.
Organic ring in 18k white gold with 16.81 ct. brown rose-cut sapphire and 0.35 ct. t.w. diamonds; $7,175; Lucifer vir Honestus, Milan; 39-22-900-4270; lucifer-vir-honestus.com
A recent fine jewelry search revealed that critters are gaining in traction. A Fabergé emerald-encrusted seahorse brooch was making the rounds, as was a scorpion bracelet in 18k rose gold with black and colorless diamonds by Roberto Coin. Asprey serpentine rings and a starfish from Pomellato also popped up.
Buyers, take note: A stroll through engagement ring boards shows customers have a growing interest in nontraditional styles—Pinterest users were pinning and re-pinning a $7,175 organic brown sapphire ring by Lucifer Vir Honestus at Barneys New York and a $6,690 rose gold diamond sliced ring by Borgioni sold at Roseark.com. Data like this is invaluable, according to jewelers. Says Saatjian: “It gives you a hint of what you should be looking for at the JCK show.”