Amazon has some 300,000 titles on management and leadership in its online bookstore, and more than 100,000 on sales and marketing. That’s far too many for even the most ambitious of us to wade through, so JCK caught up with forward-thinking designers, retailers, marketers, and consultants across the jewelry industry to find out what books they’ve used as stepping stones to further their careers.
A few books stood out right away—notably, The Experience Economy: Work Is Theater & Every Business a Stage. The 1999 tome by B. Joseph Pine II and James H. Gilmore (updated in 2011) was name-checked by multiple professionals for its insights into modern retail. And some people, especially designers and sales experts, embrace books that delve into the long, rich history of the jewelry industry and provide inspiration for creative thinking.
Here are some of the books the industry is reading:
Store director, Bellusso Jewelers, Las Vegas
Van Cleef & Arpels: The Poetry of Time
by Michels Serres, Jean-Claude Sabrier, and Sharon Kerman
Elizabeth Taylor: My Love Affair With Jewelry
According to Moore, books that deal with jewelry industry history and lore—such as Van Cleef’s The Poetry of Time and Taylor’s My Love Affair With Jewelry—have been valuable tools for him and his salespeople. “I tell the staff to go through each brand and find your favorite piece of history, so they can share a story that they find interesting or captivating,” he says. “[Customers] love stories. And to me, it starts with these books.”
Owner, Crown Nine, Oakland, Calif.
Art and Fear: Observations on the Perils (and Rewards) of Artmaking
by David Bayles and Ted Orland
Ellen admits the book that has most influenced her career as a jewelry designer and boutique owner is not a typical business book. “My favorite art-slash-creativity book is Art and Fear: Observations on the Perils (and Rewards) of Artmaking,” she says. “I refer to it all the time. The idea that sticks with me the most is that when you begin a creative idea, you have to finish it. This discipline has helped me a ton.”
Meaghan Flynn Petropoulos
Co-owner, For Future Reference
Georgia O’Keeffe: Living Modern
by Wanda M. Corn
Petropoulos, of the bicoastal jewelry brand development agency For Future Reference, relies on fashion and art history books such as Georgia O’Keeffe: Living Modern. “The process of jewelry making has evolved but the motivation hasn’t. It’s the same inclination to want to decorate yourself,” she says. “And I think everything old is always new again, so it’s really helpful to be knowledgeable about past trends—Victorian or midcentury modern, for example—so you can speak about them and how you can modernize the trends.”
President, Tiny Jewel Box, Washington, D.C.
The Experience Economy: Work Is Theater & Every Business a Stage
by B. Joseph Pine II and James H. Gilmore
“I’m reading The Experience Economy, trying to figure out how to really make a lasting impression with clients and keep brick-and-mortar special and viable,” says Rosenheim. “To make people want to continue to walk in our stores, we have to give them a memorable experience.”
Co-owner, David Nygaard Fine Jewelers, Virginia Beach, Va.
Nygaard offers another vote for Experience: “Pine and Gilmore are awesome at insight. I’ve been an advocate of The Experience Economy since it was written.” It provokes the kinds of thoughts retailers today need to keep in mind, he says: “If we couldn’t charge for the products, if we could only charge admission to the store, what would we do differently? Like a museum or a Disney park, you create an experience.”
Vice president, Fruchtman Marketing, Toledo, Ohio
The Inevitable: Understanding the 12 Technological Forces That Will Shape Our Future
by Kevin Kelly
The Singularity Is Near: When Humans Transcend Biology
by Ray Kurzweil
“I started reading books about technology. These are probably the most important ones,” says O’Neill. “The Singularity basically talks about artificial intelligence and human intelligence interacting. You start to understand…how it could potentially change everything we do. These books make me understand how the technology is getting there.”
Designer, Sarah Graham Metalsmithing, La Quinta, Calif.
Made to Stick: Why Some Ideas Survive and Others Die
by Chip Heath & Dan Heath
“What I really love are business magazines like Fast Company because they’re easy to read, but if I think back, probably the book that had the biggest impact is Made to Stick,” says Graham. “It’s about branding and stories. They talk about building a message and understanding your message. I think this book is the best book for understanding how not to get caught in generalities but then not get bogged down in something too specific.”
Co-owner, Greenwich St. Jewelers, New York City
The Four Agreements: A Practical Guide to Personal Freedom
by Don Miguel Ruiz
“One of the books that has had an immeasurable impact on my life is The Four Agreements,” says Gandia. “This book gives me four easy-to-remember guidelines for living life with more grace, understanding, and integrity.” While the book may not sound applicable to a business, Gandia says it absolutely is: “By making an effort to have the most respectful and connected relationships I can, I know it will enrich the experience of everyone in my organization, right down to the client, directly affecting satisfaction and, ultimately, sales.”
Jewelry designer/author (How to Create Your Own Jewelry Line)
Start and Run a Profitable Craft Business
by William G. Hynes
“A few years ago, I picked up Start and Run a Profitable Craft Business,” says Shapiro. “I’ve never seen anything like it; it was so helpful to have this information specifically for craft businesses. This book was really the only one I used for my research.” (The newest edition, published in 2005, is called Start & Run a Craft Business.)
Founder, Jeweler Website Advisory Group, Totowa, N.J.
Who Cares Wins: Why Good Business Is Better Business
by David Jones
To Sell Is Human: The Surprising Truth About Moving Others
by Daniel H. Pink
The Toilet Paper Entrepreneur: The Tell-It-Like-It-Is Guide to Cleaning Up in Business, Even if You Are at the End of Your Roll
by Mike Michalowicz
For millennial professionals, Perosi picks Who Cares Wins; for Gen Xers or older, he says To Sell Is Human is a valuable resource. He also praises The Toilet Paper Entrepreneur. “The biggest takeaway I remember from this book is his explanation of why it’s important to set goals but then reevaluate your approach to those goals every quarter,” Perosi says. “Trends, technology, and even your own expectations may change every three months.”
(Nygaard photo: Amy Poulter/Southside Daily)