How to Reward Customers During the Holidays

Demonstrating your appreciation to customers year-round is important, but at the holidays it’s even more so. “Jewelry is an emotional purchase, and holidays are a great time for emotions,” says Neil Stern, senior partner with Chicago consulting firm McMillan Doolittle. “You always want to make a connection to the customer, and jewelry is rarely a needed purchase so you need to feed that desire.” The holidays are the logical time to give thanks to your customers, Stern adds, because it’s when they’re most likely to spend money.

Everyone loves a gift (card).
George Avianne, vice president of e-commerce at Avianne and Co. Jewelers in New York City’s Diamond District, has three levels of holiday-timed appreciation for his customers. Customers who have spent more than $1,000 collectively over the years get a Christmas card and a gift certificate for $100. To his second tier of customers—those who have spent more than $500 during that specific holiday season—Avianne gives a $100 signature crystal ball bead bracelet, along with a Christmas card. The “high-priority clients”—who have spent more than $100,000 over the years—get an Avianne watch. “If they come back at least once,” says Avianne, “I know we’ve done our job.”

Local vendor Lollipop Cakes by Amanda shows off her bite-size treats at Bernie Robbins Jewelers’ 2012 Holiday Extravaganza in Somers Point, N.J.

Why not give them a shopping spree?
Bernie Robbins Jewelers, a five-store chain in New Jersey and Pennsylvania, runs a holiday wish list contest: Each store selects one wish list and the person who wrote the list wins a shopping spree—usually worth around $1,000.

“We try to thank our clients as much as we can,” says president and co-owner Harvey Rovinsky. “And this is one way we do it. It’s thanks for the business in the previous year.”

Uptown Diamond operations manager Kam Mack (second from l.) and owner Rick Antona’s wife, Kerry (c.), host holiday guests Emily Giesinger (far l.), Amy Gordon, and Alison Clayton.

Two words: holiday party.
At Uptown Diamond in Houston, owner Rick Antona hosts a huge party in early December in the lobby of the building that houses his store. “If you take your customers for granted, your competitors will be thanking you for sending business to them,” Antona says.

The key to the parties, he adds, is that his salespeople aren’t allowed to sell, and there’s no jewelry on display. “Then customers remember you and they’re calling you before Christmas. That’s the main thing: making it fun.”

DeBebians Fine Jewelry staffers (mostly) get into the spirit at a 2012 Halloween lunch.

Don’t forget your employees.
“We view our business as having two clients—our external client and our internal client [staff], and we have a great amount of respect for both,” says Rovinsky.

After the holidays, Rovinsky invites employees whose annual sales for the prior year topped $1 million to a private event at a fine club in Philadelphia (along with their significant others). Here, he acknowledges each person with a tribute and a glass statue. Typically, eight to 10 employees get the coveted invite.

Maggie Moore, co-owner of deBebians Fine Jewelry in Los Angeles, likes to take her team of nine employees out for an activity such as ice skating (followed by dinner) in early December. “It’s a great way to build relationships between employees and between us and the employees,” she says.

Sami Fine Jewelry founder Sami Jack and master horologist Doug Hill

But wait—it’s something you can do year-round!
A few examples of non-holiday displays of gratitude: Uptown Diamond’s Rick Antona sends personalized cakes (price: $2,000–$3,000 each!) to his top clients. DeBebians Fine Jewelry sends engagement-ring buyers a video sneak peek of the ring—building excitement and creating a cool souvenir. Jeremy Shepherd, founder and CEO of, holds an annual Pearl Ruckus: He rents a mansion, where his top customers spend the weekend enjoying pearls and luxury. And Sami Fine Jewelry in Fountain Hills, Ariz., hosts year-end themed employee parties featuring staffers in full costume. Sometimes, that means togas.

A version of this story originally appeared in the October 2013 issue of JCK magazine.

(Top: Yasinguneysu/Getty Images)

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