With a still-struggling economy, jewelers around the country have mixed emotions about summer hiring, according to retailers JCK interviewed this week.
For stores located in summertime destinations—including Diamonds ‘n Dunes in Kitty Hawk, N.C.—the season is one of the busiest. “Since my store is located in a resort area, summer is a busier time of year,” Eileen Alexanian, owner of Diamonds ‘n Dunes, says. “This year we did hire an additional employee.”
Alexanian also says the summer breaks allow jewelers to train younger employees. “The people who I hire in the summer are usually relatively young and on their summer break,” Alexanian says. “They learn a lot throughout the season.”
Whether stores hire employees right out of school or workers with more experience, on-the job training is essential. “We do encourage all of our employees, regardless of age, to take advantage of GIA training programs and reimburse them for their tuition,” Solomon says.
However, many jewelers still remain cautious when considering hiring new employees. “The jewelry industry has been on a [hiring] hiatus because of the rising cost of gold and cost of merchandise, affecting the overall hiring process,” Alexanian says.
Specifically, jewelers specializing in gold, like Haviv Shaul of Golden Link Jewelry in Peabody, Mass., remain extra cautious. “We are not currently hiring because business has not improved,” Shaul says. “Gold has not been selling because of the high prices.”
“The people who are currently employed have been here for the long haul,” says Howard W. Diamond, owner of Fairfield Center Jewelers in Fairfield, Conn. “We like to give our customers constancy and familiarity with our staff.”
Diamond did say that his store occasionally hires high school students to help out in the back room. “We like to show them that it’s not just about arts and crafts, but there’s also a technical aspect to the industry,” he says. “We let them know that there’s so many different areas to work in.”
Since many independent jewelry stores are family owned and operated, hiring outside staff isn’t always necessary. “We increased the square footage of our store recently and have seen an increase in business,” Wendy Adeler, of Adeler Jewelers in Great Falls, Va., says. “However, we are a family-owned business and have worked with the same staff.”
Adeler also says that her children, as well as her nieces and nephews, come to the store after school to learn the business. “We are starting the learning process young, teaching them everything from sorting stones to designing jewelry with the CAD program,” she says.