As a retailer, you’re constantly searching for a powerful and cost-effective method to position your store, your products, and your services directly in front of your customers, or potential customers. A well-thought-out, beautifully designed catalog helps to accomplish these goals.

Catalogs allow you to define your brand, show your style, and highlight your key jewelry and watch collections. They’re intended to persuade and motivate customers to conduct business with you and purchase from your store. It’s crucial that you create a well-designed catalog, because it speaks on behalf of you, your staff, and your company name.

Successful catalogs are not developed overnight, and they are not inexpensive. A catalog is a big project, so start early, formulate a plan, and be prepared to invest the necessary money and time.

To begin, it’s a good idea to strategize and decide what you’d like to accomplish, how the catalog will be used, and whom you want to reach. Communicating with your staff is critical to the success of your catalog. Discuss your objectives with your team and update them throughout the process. Keeping them involved will increase their excitement and buy-in. To make full use of your catalog, consider making additional copies available in store, posting an electronic copy on your Web site, and placing them in goody bags during holiday events. Finally, decide who your target is. If you want to increase exposure for your store, you can always invest in a third-party mailing list. Once you finalize your list and the other uses for your catalog, you can determine how many to produce.

Selecting the most qualified vendors to produce your catalog is the next step. A vast amount of knowledge and skill is required to design, produce, photograph, and print a catalog. Look for a company that has experience producing catalogs as well as an impeccable reputation. When reviewing a company’s previous catalogs, look at the quality of the work. Carefully review their samples, contact some references, and take time to do the necessary research. An agency, photo-grapher, or printer without previous jewelry or luxury-goods experience could cause mistakes, resulting in delays and higher costs.

After you’ve outlined your objectives and selected your vendors, it’s time to estimate costs so you can develop a budget for the project. Two types of costs are associated with creating a catalog: fixed and variable. Fixed costs are not affected by the quantity of catalogs you produce. They include items such as design, layout, copywriting, photography, illustration, and production. Variable costs are affected by quantity and are typically measured by unit, changing as the mailing volume goes up or down. Variable costs include printing, paper, binding, list rentals, fulfillment, and postage It’s important to remember that many of your suppliers will contribute co-op dollars toward your catalog, which can defray up to half of your production and printing costs.

Finally, it’s critical to have a completion date circled on the calendar before you begin designing and producing your catalog. This date will drive the entire process. Consider your market, your customers, and your competition when selecting a distribution date.

For the holidays, you may want an October or November ship date. Once you have a date on the calendar, you can work with your vendors to make sure the project stays on track and delivers on time.

Remember, you have only one chance to make a first impression. Everything about your catalog—design, photography, and printing—is part of that impression. The first few moments your customers spend with your catalog are your best chance of building a relationship, creating excitement, or making a sale. To create an eye-catching and beautiful catalog that will distinguish your store and give you an advantage over your competition, follow these steps:


  • Design an attention-getting cover.

  • Choose a design that embo-dies your store’s one-of-a-kind appeal and reflects your image.

  • Develop a subtle design that does not compete with the jewelry and watches featured in your catalog.

  • Select appropriate design elements, including catalog size, paper, fonts, and color palette.

  • Limit the number of pieces on each page. Too much jewelry or too many watches on a page can overwhelm customers. Plus, your catalog should display a carefully selected sample of the products you carry—not every item in your store.


  • Craft a personally tailored message for your catalog, giving your customers a con-nection to you and your store.

  • Provide relevant details. Pieces should be numbered and have a brief corresponding description that includes price.

  • Include all pertinent store information: location, hours, local and toll-free telephone numbers, and e-mail and Web site addresses.


  • Select the right merchandise for your catalog. The products should appeal to a wide range of customers, including men and women of different age ranges, income levels, and lifestyles.

  • Feature a balanced mix of jewelry and watches. Consider selecting traditional and fashion pieces; established brands and up-and-coming designers; high-end, moderate, and affordable pieces; and a wide selection of diamond jewelry, colored gemstone jewelry, pearl jewelry, and watches.

  • Tailor a few pages to specific demographics, such as brides, graduates, and men.

  • Incorporate giftware. Offer a selection of unique items such as watch winders, jewelry boxes, crystal, figurines, and picture frames.

  • Include designers and manufacturers who offer co-op reimbursement. This will help offset the cost of your catalog.

Professional photography is one of the most important elements of an effective catalog. Your jewelry and watch images should leap off the page and catch the customer’s eye. Poorly shot photography can damage your image. Retailers have two options. First, you can request high-resolution, print-ready images from the designers and manufacturers featured in your store. Many have stock images available and will provide them free of charge. But you will have to invest in photo retouching to make each image look consistent throughout your catalog. The second option is to hire a professional photographer to work with you. He or she will style each image and, if needed, design custom props. The photographer will charge either a daily rate or per-piece rate.

Whether you use stock or custom images, consider good photography an investment. Once you have these images, you can use them for your Web site, direct-mail postcards, in-store signage, counter cards, and e-marketing campaigns.

After you’ve invested time, energy, and resources into designing and photographing an exceptional catalog, don’t cut corners by opting for poor-quality printing. Select a reputable printing company with full-color capabilities that has experience with high-quality catalogs, product literature, and marketing collateral.

A great deal of planning, bidding, and budgeting is required to create a winning catalog, but once your catalogs are finished and in your customers’ hands, you’ll have the satisfaction of watching sales and revenue grow.