D.C.’s Diener Jewelers takes pride in buying and selling, be it a diamond ring or a silver spoon
1. What has been your most memorable sale?
A lady used to come up to the window from the outside to look at this one ring. Every once in a while she would come in and have me show it to her, but she would say she couldn’t afford it. I could tell how much she wanted this ring but that she was struggling, and I said, “Don’t worry, you let me know when you’re ready and we’ll do a layaway plan.” Then one day she made a down payment on it. She finally took it out, and I was really happy for her. It meant more to me than selling some $50,000 piece of jewelry. She was a single lady and she bought a diamond engagement ring for herself.
2. What was your finest hour in the realm of customer service?
We buy and sell fine estate jewelry, gold, diamonds, coins, sterling silver, and antiques. In 2008 when the economy tanked, people were rolling into my store—really wealthy people who owned strip malls, car dealerships, and big businesses. There were one or two customers from the ’80s who were clients of my dad’s [the store’s founder]. They were basically crying, trying to sell things quickly. I held their hands and said, “I got you. Let’s do this.” They sold their things and got the money they needed. Sometimes it was five-deep at the counter. I was happy I could help them.
3. What advertisement or promotion elicited the biggest response, and why do you think it worked?
Diener Jewelers is all over TV. That’s something I started about four years ago. I was reluctant, but we created a series of TV commercials letting people know we buy estate jewelry. People who had never even heard of my father’s business all of a sudden knew about us. My sister Allison Perlmutter is still part of the business and she sends a lot of people in. She and her three kids came down and we all appeared in a commercial that everyone loves. People feel comforted by the local family-owned brick-and-mortar jewelry store.
4. How do you differentiate your store from the competition?
There’s really no one else like us in downtown D.C. A lot of retail jewelers don’t buy. People who want estate jewelry are sent to us, and I’m grateful for those recommendations. We also buy artwork and sterling silver. We have one of the largest collections of sterling silver flatware in D.C. I polish it, we put it on our website, and we sell it at wholesale prices. Sterling flatware is really making a comeback.
5. What’s been your biggest challenge, and how have you resolved it?
Reaching out to the younger generation: kids in their 20s who are now getting married. Getting them to not buy diamonds and jewelry on websites is an everyday challenge. We want them to come in and touch and feel a diamond. We do emails, work on our website, post online catalogs, donate to charities, and go to events where they are. It’s working in part because I think a lot of them have bought online and been burned by it. So they’re starting to come back to the brick-and-mortar stores. Then they tell their friends.