Every Thursday during the pandemic, we’ll be checking in on members of the jewelry trade in an attempt glean shareable tips and tricks for a better and more productive quarantine (and for many, reopening).
Today we hear from custom jeweler Amanda Jaron, founder of A. Jaron Fine Jewelry in Naples, Fla.
The designer and fabricator, who’s known for her “blingovers”—redoing formal vintage jewels into pieces that can be worn comfortably in the Florida heat—is currently living and working in the wasp’s nest of America’s COVID-19 infections. Total infections in the state reached 369,834 on Tuesday, according to the state’s health department.
Despite her distressing environs, Jaron’s been able to make changes to her business that have kept it relevant with clients and in the black financially.
JCK: Are you quarantined (or maybe semi-quarantined?)
Amanda Jaron: As of today [Wednesday, July 22], everything social has been canceled. We are not officially quarantined, we are all being cautious, mandated to wear masks in public, cleaning, and cooking at home more than ever before.
Where are you based, and who you are quarantined with?
My design studio, workshop, and gallery are based in the Bayshore Arts District in Naples, Fla. During lockdown it was all family time with my husband, my boy/girl teenage twins, and my fur baby, Miss Pearl.
What is it like living in Florida right now with the high number of COVID cases?
Sadly, it is a scary time. Feels as if everyone is frightened of each other. I am a hugger, so nothing feels worse than having a longtime client walk into the studio and not being able to hug them.
Are you open for business? Were you closed for a while?
Yes. Technically, I never closed. Instagram, Facebook, and my website have become my lifeline. The studio was “officially” closed during the lockdown. However, we never really closed. I was able to connect digitally with clients and go into my studio most days and work. I even met a few clients one-on-one.
What’s been your timeline in terms of how you’ve worked and lived during the pandemic?
During lockdown, when at home, I sat on the floor at my coffee table listening to COVID-19 updates, watching old movies, posting on social media, and knotting pearls on silk! I knotted over 1,000 inches of 3 mm pearls and gemstones. Knotting is truly therapeutic!
I had one client who posted on Facebook that she was having a very hard time with isolation and loneliness. She lives alone, both of her adult children were fighting COVID-19 in Atlanta, and was feeling helpless. I invited her to the studio to do a “six feet apart” photo shoot. It was a win-win, as she was able to model our new collection and she left the studio saying she felt alive and normal for an afternoon.
If you are working with clients, how has that process changed because of COVID?
Now we have masks, disinfectant spray, and hand sanitizer. I only do one-on-one, by appointment, six-feet-apart design consultations.
I have also done several design appointments via Zoom and FaceTime, for those afraid to leave their house. I’ve also done house appointments and design appointments completely on text. I never used to give my cell number out, but now clients are texting me inspirations. Then I text designs and confirm sales without ever speaking live or seeing them. Custom design appointments all done with text—who would have thought?!
What are you finding customers want right now from you—what kind of pieces?
Even though we’re all a bit depressed, we are still alive! Life continues even if we are in lockdown. Anniversaries, birthdays, graduations, babies being born, and engagements are still happening—in some cases more than ever. Jewelry will forever be the most perfect way to celebrate these life moments. With so much closed…my clients are finding me, thankfully.
Being known as the designer that redesigns clients’ old jewelry, my blingovers are coming in now more than ever. My clients have had time to go to their safety deposit boxes and get out the old things in their collections for redesigning. Being that we’re in Florida, we have a more casual lifestyle. I spend a lot of time taking clients’ “fancy” pieces and making them more casual for everyday wear.
How have sales been in the last month? Do you feel like people are buying?
Crazy as it sounds, my 2020 June was stronger than my [June] 2019!
How has quarantine been for you personally? What kinds of things did you do to help with stress?
Not having the traffic in the store allowed for great creative time. With teenage twins entering their junior year of high school, navigating their emotions has been hard. But it has made me reflect on my journey too.
I found jewelry-making at the age of 13. I took an adult education class at a local art center and fell in love with the idea of making sculpture out of gold and diamonds. My clients ask me all the time if I would give classes in metalsmithing. I do have the room in my studio for additional benches, but it never seemed to be the right time to consider that.
Well, quarantine time and online shopping allowed me the time to make it happen. During quarantine I built a jewelry school! We have six work stations and a totally equipped space to invite the public in to create their own pieces. I’m so excited by the interest! As soon as we are all able, I know we will be booked solid.
How do you think the COVID-19 crisis will change jewelry retail and custom design in the next year and beyond?
Digital interaction. Clients that were not relying on the internet and social media before are now. I have spent as much time in the studio as I have online posting and interacting with my clients online.
My “Which would you choose?” posts have been a winner for me. I post pictures and time-lapse drawings of design options for my clients to vote on. It’s been fun to see the interaction and, in turn, gets other people digging through their jewelry boxes to see what they have to blingover.
Do you feel the pandemic will change the way jewelry shoppers shop?
With so many following online now, my clients are now coming in asking for their pieces to be considered for the “Which would you choose?” online voting!
I’ve always involved my clients in the process of their custom pieces, from the design appointment through the finished piece. I document the process with photos and video. In the end, they have a new piece of jewelry and a video for them to archive their original jewels, a before-and-after story to share with their friends on social media. It’s the ultimate word-of-mouth, feel-good promotion.
Any movies, books, TV shows, etc., that you enjoyed during stay-at-home orders?
I’m a child of the ’80s, so it’s been fun sharing all the John Hughes movies with my teens. I still think I’m Molly Ringwald.
Top: Jaron with necklaces she’s been knotting during the pandemic (all images courtesy of Amanda Jaron)
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