Caroline: When I was in retail, some of my favorite customers were petite. They always seemed to love the biggest jewels and could wear them well!
Cynthia: No doubt those were women with tons of personality.
Caroline: Yes, that was exactly right! I had one customer who wore huge black onyx beads with a big diamond catch (this WAS the 80’s) and I always marveled that she could pull them off.
Cynthia: I’ve actually had the opposite experience. A friend from work who was petite regularly complained that she couldn’t find jewelry scaled to fit and flatter her. She loved delicate jewelry. This was fairly recent.
Caroline: I know plenty of jewelers who carry delicate items. I generally think they are easier to find than many bolder pieces.
Cynthia: I agree. Earrings are easy, for example. Studs are a natural of course, and many designs are suspended on French wires. Similarly, brooches shouldn’t present any issues for the petite customer. She can go as large or small as her taste dictates.
Caroline: I can’t remember having earrings or brooch issues with any petite ladies, so that’s a good sign. :) So then why is the petite customer a challenge?
Cynthia: Well, on the other hand (pardon the pun!), bracelets can be too large and slip down over the hand of someone with slender bone structure.
Caroline: It’s always a smart move when a retailer has a smaller bracelet or two on hand for the petite customer. Even if it’s not the right style, it can still help close a sale when a potential customer can try on the piece and see how it feels. Of course, that’s true for all sizes; we all love to try on something that fits.
Cynthia: Absolutely! There’s nothing quite like instant gratification. Bangle bracelets can be a particular problem. Are most link bracelets adjustable by removing links?
Caroline: That’s why it’s important that a retailer carry a small bangle or two. Yes, link bracelets can generally be sized; it’s still a nice idea to have one or two in a smaller size so your customer can try them on, as most retailers already do. If your customer has imagination, it’s easy to have then try on a regular size bracelet and imagine what one that fits would look/feel like. However, not all potential customers have that particular skill
Cynthia: That’s good to know. What it means is that the fussy petite customer should call around and find a jeweler who keeps some of the smaller pieces in stock!
Caroline: Yes, that’s the sort of thing that will actually get a customer in the front door!
Cynthia: I don’t suppose that rings are much of a problem in general, since most, or many, rings can be sized.
Caroline: I wish it was standard to have rings in a jeweler’s stock in a wide variety of sizes, but it’s not, unless you’re carrying estate/pre-owned jewelry. Of course, most rings can easily be sized so that’s not too much of a detriment to purchasing.
Cynthia: You raise a very good point…. estate and vintage jewelry is often perfect for the petite customer, as much of that jewelry is sized for smaller women. In vintage jewelry, I regularly come across necklaces of less than 15 inches in length. My picky friend complained about regular 16-inch pendant chains — they were too long for her.
Caroline: I hope she had a good jeweler to shorten them to her preferred length!
Cynthia: I told her that it’s much easier to find something and have it shortened than it is to find something and need it in a larger size!
Caroline: No kidding! That is one area where petites really win out.
Cynthia: So it seems that, as far as categories of jewelry, bracelets present the biggest challenge for the petite customer. But there are factors of design that should be considered as well. More on that next time!
Your petite customer may appreciate the follow ideas:
1. Carry carrying smaller sizes in a variety of merchandise. For instance, try to stock one or two bangle bracelets in smaller sizes. While they may not be your best sellers, the investment in smaller sizes may help you make a sale because the customer can try on a piece that fits.
2. Your petite customer may not want small pieces of jewelry. Show her a range of pieces and pay attention to her preferences.
3. If you carry estate jewelry, keep a list of items in stock that run smaller than normal so that you can show those pieces to petite customers. Or, when new pieces come in, give your petite customers first dibs – they’ll appreciate you for thinking of them first!