Product Descriptions Are as Important as Product Photos

Ask any e-commerce developer what the most important element of a product page is and they will likely say “photos.”

And they would be right. High-quality product photos are requisite to selling online. How else, if not through pictures, could a consumer understand exactly what they’re purchasing? Photos have the power to pique interest in a product at a glance, and they allow us to envision owning or wearing an item ourselves.

The bar for photos is particularly high for jewelers. Jewelry and gems are usually small, so photos must be supercrisp and lit to show tiny details. Variety is also important: A piece should be shown in silhouette and also on a human, to indicate size. All angles of a piece should be showcased in a slideshow, and photo files need to be large enough to allow consumers to zoom in for close-ups.

I’m not telling you anything you don’t know here—it’s 2021 and everyone on Earth understands that e-commerce is growing like a mushroom under a wet log, and is here to stay. Thus, it goes without saying that putting your best aesthetic foot forward when selling online is important.

But while photos in jewelry e-tailing are looking sublime, product descriptions are, generally speaking, suffering. And shrinking. On too many jewelry e-comms, descriptions have been reduced to mere bullet points that relay metal type and the size of gems. When I see this on a site, I invariably think, “What a missed opportunity.”

And sometimes there’s no description at all! This morning, for example, a cute DTC fashion jewelry collection debuted, and I eagerly clicked on the brand’s website and began perusing. The gold-tone jewelry was pretty and trendy, and a small box on the site’s homepage mentioned that the brand used vermeil. But clicking further into the site, I realized its pages were devoid of descriptions—not even dinky bulleted lists.

Because of this, visitors to the site are left to wonder if the silver in the product titles means “sterling silver” or just “silver tone,” and if the opal-looking gem in the middle of a beautiful ring is an actual opal or a facsimile.

The well-designed site, which is clearly targeting Gen Zers, may be an extreme example of the Great Description Decline of 2021. But it speaks to a larger trend in e-commerce that’s seen brands downsize and demote descriptions in the name of…what? Making shopping speedier? Keeping pages “cleaner”? Does it makes sense to skeletonize (or altogether delete) product description for these, or any other, reasons?

Nope. And here’s why. People don’t buy products. Not really—they buy the promise of self-improvement. And when it comes to jewelry, they buy to align themselves with certain tribes, or gain entrée into nuanced clubs (i.e., the club of women wearing trendy paper clip chains, which right now includes every Instagram influencer under the sun).

And while gorgeous photography can usher jewelry lovers into that important “want it, need it, gotta have it” mindset, a creative (but brief and fact-filled) description has the power to romance them through traditional storytelling that layers meaning and context over a piece’s basic details.

There’s a reason social media jewelry influencers such as Gem Gossip’s Danielle Miele and Diamonds in the Library’s Becky Stone sell so much jewelry, both their own and others’: They’re masters of spinning yarns around jewelry pieces to make them seem unique, special, and exciting.

A recent Diamonds in the Library post showed an antique ring from Wilson’s Estate Jewelry featuring a carving of a woman’s face. Stone’s storytelling prowess was in full effect as she wrote: “This is The Empress. Resplendent with the ethereal glory of the Art Nouveau aesthetic, she is captivating, from her opal and ruby crown to the flowing gold locks of her hair and her carefully carved hardstone face.”

If you’re worried about having long chunks of text gunk up your pages, consider a collapsible section; consumers receptive to being romanced by terrific writing can access the text with a single click, while those in a hurry can skip it.

But I contend that few will. Jewelry is an investment, and while impulse buys happen in brick-and-mortar stores, my feeling is that women take their time when shopping online, and enjoy revisiting photos, texts, and details on a product page multiple times before finally hitting “add to cart.”

Give ’em something tantalizing to chew on.

(Photo: HM Revenue & Customs)

Follow Emili Vesilind on Instagram: @emilivesilind

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JCK Senior Editor

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