In 2019, Steve and Melissa Quick, the husband-and-wife owners of Steve Quick Jeweler in Chicago’s Lincoln Park neighborhood, decided to consolidate their three stores into a single, downsized location. Little did they know how prescient that decision would be.
“The big motivating factor was us being able to control the experience that someone has walking into our store,” Melissa (pictured) tells JCK.
When the pandemic hit, the Quicks trimmed the store schedule from being open seven days to five. Now that the quarantines and lockdowns of 2020 are fading into memory (touch wood!), they’ve decided to stick with the five-day schedule. “I now have Sundays and Mondays off, which is really nice,” Melissa says. “I’m not working as much as I used to, but probably not working as much as I should.”
The rationale for retaining pandemic-era hours as well as a by-appointment-only format (another pandemic-era change) goes back to their decision to consolidate in the first place: “A big part is the experience: Wouldn’t you rather have my undivided attention when you come in?” Melissa says. “The people who really would like an hour of Steve’s time or my time, that hour is yours. I’m not helping four other people.”
The shift in format is a piece in the larger sea change the Quicks have implemented over the past four years, says Melissa. “We’ve been working on setting ourselves apart—the basics are things we don’t necessarily want to compete on.”
Nowhere is that ethos more evident than in Steve Quick’s diamond jewelry selection. Read on for Melissa’s insights into how they maintain a thriving diamond jewelry business in one of the country’s largest and most saturated markets.
How would you describe your diamond jewelry business?
The bulk of our diamond business is bridal, also encompassing stacking bands. We have a lot of people we sold on the idea of doing a stack, whether it’s for an anniversary or a right-hand stack.
We very purposefully have gotten out of doing a lot of fashion diamond business. We seldom stock an assortment of tennis bracelets or rivières. We definitely do diamond studs, but they’re not a big part of what we do. Diamond hoops we do okay with. But the stud, hoop, tennis bracelet, rivière game—there are so many people doing that, and it’s all about selling something for the lowest possible price.
So you’ve gotten away from the basic styles—what are you focusing on instead?
In their place, we are doing things that are exceptional, which you don’t see coming and going. We’re going in the exact opposite direction.
Sylva & Cie—she does kick-ass diamond jewelry that’s sophisticated and understated and overstated all in one. We’ve been with them for a long time. We stuck with stacking bands and bridal, and two years ago we sat down and said we want to try putting your fashion into the store. It’s the line we’re selling to the female self-purchaser, whom we’ve been trying to sell to forever.
Sylva designs for a woman in her 40s, 50s, or 60s who will put on a white T-shirt, kick-ass Valentino shoes, a floppy hat, and a $20,000 diamond pavé ring with reclaimed old mine–cut diamonds. That’s a little edgy and different, but you wear it with jeans and a cool biker jacket. I so love it, and our clients do too.
What other diamond designers do you stock?
We’re got a gorgeous assortment of Todd Reed. With Todd, it’s definitely been pendants and earrings.
From there, it’s stacking bands. Sethi Couture has the most amazing collection. We did a trunk show in 2019, and I think I sold 42 of their rings in two days. And then on top of it, wedding rings. Again, there’s a little something different to their stacking bands. They do great designs, incorporating black and yellow diamonds. And all the rings have great textures. I like that it’s not just the same ol’, same ol’.
As you look ahead to fall, which diamonds styles are you banking on?
Whatever diamond purchasing we’ll be doing is more than likely going to be bridal, specifically semi-mounts. Our inventory is really heavy on halos, and I see those going away. We’re going to invest in semi-mounts or solitaires that are either unique or classic.
Finally—thankfully—in Chicago, yellow gold has caught on, so we need to invest in some yellow gold engagement ring styles. Doves by Doron Paloma—he always shows at Luxury—does a beautiful fashion collection with yellow gold and diamonds. Last time we bought it, we sold through everything, so we will for sure want to fill in.
But all of it has to be wearable. After 15 to 16 months of us living through really comfy clothes in our Zoom meetings, people aren’t going to want the big statement pieces they only wear when they dress up.
They want wearable pieces they can throw on when they’re going to dinner. But that doesn’t mean they’re inexpensive. The women who have been buying the Sylva—it’s definitely women buying for themselves. They want luxury in their lives; they just want it to be approachable.Follow JCK on Instagram: @jckmagazine
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