J.C. Penney Revamps Fashion Jewelry Departments, Airs Ad Admitting Mistakes

Despite recent turmoil at the top, J.C. Penney is moving ahead with plans to revamp its fashion jewelry assortment and presentation with a new concept called the Bijoux Bar.

The Bijoux Bar debuted in 650 stores on April 28, featuring items from designers such as Kenneth Jay Lane, Kara Ross, Lana Bramlette, Dominique Cohen, Doris Panos, Rodrigo Otazu, and Diego Massimo.

The Bijoux Bar (photo courtesy of J.C. Penney)

“We wanted to make the presentation look different from the rest of our fine jewelry,” says Pam Mortensen, senior vice president and general merchandise manager of fine jewelry, adding that it has an open sell display that lets customers “play” with the jewelry.

The new collection is aimed at “everyone from our existing customer to a more modern fashion customer,” Mortensen says. “We have had fashion jewelry before but this is mid-range jewelry that is better fashion.”

Prices points begin at around $35 and go to $395, with the heaviest concentration in the $35–$150 range. Materials include crystals, cubic zirconia, and some genuine gemstones.

Mortensen says the initial reaction to the concept has surpassed expectations.

One of the designers, Dominique Cohen, tells JCK that she welcomed the chance to create a line for J.C. Penney.

“Luxury isn’t really contingent upon price point,” Cohen says. “It’s about the detail of the design. We tried to put as much detail in the design as possible and use interesting materials.” 

While the program was introduced under former CEO Ron Johnson—Johnson has an association with the word bar, since he is credited with creating the Apple stores’ Genius Bar—both Cohen and Mortensen stress that this new concept will survive Johnson’s recent departure.

“I believe they are going to continue with the reinvention with the shops,” says Cohen. “Penney is setting the standard for the way retail is going to be in the future.”  

More details on the jewelry being offered can be seen here.

In related news, on May 1, the company put out an unusual new ad admitting “mistakes,” and asking customers who had been staying away from the store to give it another chance. 

“It’s no secret, recently J.C. Penney changed,” the ad says. “Some changes you liked and some you didn’t, but what matters from mistakes is what we learn. We learned a very simple thing, to listen to you.” 

“Come back to J.C. Penney, we heard you. Now, we’d love to see you.” 

The mea culpa spot has been posted to the company’s Youtube channel, and will air on TV prior to the store’s Mother’s Day campaign, says spokeswoman Sarah Holland. 

“This campaign sends a clear message that we listened, and now we’re doing everything we can to bring customers back,” Holland adds.

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JCK News Director