Moments of Charity: Selling Jewelry With a Social Mission



At Peridot Fine Jewelry in Larchmont, N.Y., ­bracelets and necklaces from The Brave Collection sit prominently near the cash wrap, rising up a walnut totem pole and inviting curiosity.

Such prime positioning is not accidental, Peridot owner Dawn Hendricks confirms. After all, The Brave Collection has a compelling story to share.

The jewelry line from designer Jessica Hendricks Yee—who also happens to be Hendricks’ daughter—­features handmade pieces from underprivileged or disabled Cambodian artisans. In addition to providing artisans from the developing nation access to an improved quality of life, The Brave Collection donates 10 percent of its profits to combat human trafficking in Cambodia.

“It’s great to talk about something beyond style and tie into emotion,” Hendricks says. “Those rich, human connections really matter in brick-and-mortar stores today.”

With socially conscious brands like The Brave Collection gaining traction in today’s retail landscape and consumers showing a growing desire to engage with such businesses, ­jewelry stores have an opportunity to share human stories and capture sales with differentiated product that speaks to both beauty and purpose.

“I think anytime a business shows genuine support of charitable efforts it benefits the business in the long term,” says Kristina Maiwaldt, marketing director at New Jersey–based Roman Jewelers. With stores in Flemington and Bridgewater, N.J., Roman Jewelers owners Roman and Sophie Shor and Lucy Zimmerman have a long-standing commitment to philanthropic causes.

Here, JCK shares five ways these and other retailers are highlighting socially conscious jewelry to generate interest and, ultimately, sales.

Merchandising and Signage

brave collection workers
The Brave Collection founder Jessica Hendricks Yee with the company’s Cambodian artisans

At Peridot, where the vast majority of pieces sit under glass, The Brave Collection’s tabletop totem display serves as a conversation piece. Hendricks says customers regularly ask about the jewelry line, which features pieces starting at $37.

“In one breath, customers find out that it’s affordable and 10 percent goes to fight human trafficking,” Hendricks says.

Last August, when Hendricks and her husband, Chuck, climbed Africa’s Mount Kilimanjaro, The Brave Collection crafted an exclusive $48 bracelet to celebrate that effort with 100 percent of proceeds directed to The Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson’s Research. Hendricks created a personalized on-counter display featuring the bracelet and a photo of her and her husband, who himself was diagnosed five years ago with early-onset Parkinson’s disease.

“This invited a deeper level of communication with our clients and the personal cause changed things for people,” Hendricks says, adding that bracelet sales generated more than $2,500 for Parkinson’s research.

In North Carolina’s Outer Banks, The Mystic Jewel uses professionally produced signage provided by eco-sustainable ­jewelry brand Wind & Fire to highlight the company’s designs as well as its commitment to charities that help children in need, such as Guiding Eyes for the Blind and Autism Speaks. At locations in Duck and Corolla, N.C., the store also shares additional designer-provided material with purchases.

“As these pieces are often gifts for other people, a little business card explaining the designer’s mission helps relay that information to the recipient,” The Mystic Jewel co-owner Cortney Davidson says. 

Direct Connections

share your heart pendant
Roman Jewelers’ $100 Share Your Heart pendant

Last October, Roman Jewelers created the Share Your Heart pendant. Customers could earmark sale proceeds from the custom-designed $100 piece to a charity of their choosing.

“There’s always a need somewhere and a cause close to someone’s heart,” Maiwaldt says.

While Roman Jewelers hosted an in-store event unveiling the pendant to community leaders and charities, the retailer has found its greatest success introducing the piece to any charity representative requesting a donation from the store. In addition to suggesting the jewelry as a unique way to generate funds, Roman Jewelers provides information the organization can share with its audience to build word-of-mouth buzz and spur more purchases.

Likewise, whenever stores have a jewelry line or specific ­pieces connected to a particular cause, they might reach out to like-minded local organizations to introduce the jewelry and highlight the shared mission. 

Thoughtful Events

Single Stone, a 12-year-old jewelry retailer located in San Marino, Calif., has hosted trunk shows with Anabel Higgins Jewelry, which donates a portion of its sale proceeds to breast cancer research, diagnosis, and treatment efforts. Single Stone frequently pairs those events with breast cancer–related causes, such as one trunk show event in which proceeds supported free mammograms at the nearby breast cancer center.

Single Stone has also organized off-site events with Anabel Higgins designer—and breast cancer survivor—Annie Higgins, including private-residence trunk shows and “Meet the Designer” lunches. In addition to showing Anabel Higgins jewelry, the events frequently include formal presentations on a breast cancer–related issue, such as the importance of early detection or supporting scientific research.

“The personal nature of these events has been particularly ­powerful,” Single Stone co-owner Corina Madilian says.

Story-Sharing Staff

Whenever any customer looks at a Wind & Fire piece at The Mystic Jewel, Davidson and her team share the brand’s story and social mission.

“We make sure to communicate those highlights because the mission will really make a difference for some of our more socially conscious customers,” Davidson says.

Ditto with The Brave Collection at Peridot, where Hendricks says staff members “go out of [their] way” to promote the jewelry line supporting human rights, personal dignity, and the universal concept of bravery.

“This is something we are proud to support, so we’re not afraid to speak to it,” Hendricks says. “Most often, our sharing the story supports customers’ decision to purchase.”

Digital Shout-Outs

On its social media, email blasts, and website, Single Stone frequently highlights Anabel Higgins Jewelry and the brand’s backstory. The store, for instance, has shared a video from Annie Higgins discussing her own breast cancer journey and the brand’s connection to breast cancer causes.

Roman Jewelers, meanwhile, is currently creating a Facebook storefront for its Share Your Heart pendant, which will allow the store to further showcase its charity-focused jewelry. And Hendricks regularly spotlights The Brave Collection on Peridot’s website and social media feeds, sharing product-specific shots as well as imagery of people wearing the bracelets and necklaces.

“As much as there’s a great story to this jewelry,” Hendricks says, “we have to remember that people need to feel strongly about how it looks, too.”

Top, l.–r.: Artisan making a necklace by The Brave Collection; Alden 18k gold pendant, $3,440, Camilla 18k gold pendant, $2,880, Sabrina 18k gold and silver pendant, $2,400, anabelhiggins.com; Love pendant in 18k gold with diamonds; price on request; anabelhiggins.com; middle l., bottom r.: Crystal birthstone necklaces; $30 each; windandfirejewelry.com; middle c.: Klaa-han silver chain bracelet, $95; thebravecollection.com; middle r.: Charm bangles, $26–$30, green crystal bracelet, $36; windandfirejewelry.com; bottom l.: Signature cuff, $175, chain necklaces, $115 each, all 14k gold–plated brass; thebravecollection.com; bottom c.: Heritage collection Caroline 18k gold pendant; $6,750; anabelhiggins.com

(Top r., bottom c.: Maud Waterman)

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