Chatty but not navel-gazing, informative but not pedantic, and promotional but not pushy, the industry’s best blogs drive traffic (and sales) while serving as powerful brand-building tools. Take a page from 10 of our favorites.
Links to blogs are sometimes hard to find. At best, the blog is part of a website’s homepage main menu. At worst, it’s buried in a drop-down menu in the “About Us” section.
But Radcliffe Jewelers in Towson, Md., gives its blog prime homepage placement alongside links to its Twitter and Facebook accounts, making it part of a “social media bundle.”
Some of the content for Radcliffe’s blog comes from The Baltimore Sun. In 2007, the store partnered with the paper to repurpose stories from “Glimpsed,” its popular social-scene section. “Guests at our Dario Franchitti event were ‘Glimpsed’ in The Baltimore Sun (including Dario himself!),” said a recent post.
“Every time Radcliffe’s is mentioned in Glimpsed, we post it on our blog,” says Nola Dobratz, marketing director for Radcliffe’s. “And to enhance chances of people finding Radcliffe’s in association with these events, we link these stories to other areas of our website, such as the Watches or the In the Press sections.”
As a blogger, Felicia Ceballos knows the first—and, in some respects, most important—question she needs to ask herself is: Who’s my reader? “I try to write for people who don’t know anything about fine jewelry,” says the director of marketing for Los Angeles–based Ziva Jewels.
And while most of Ceballos’ entries serve up straightforward advice on jewelry-related topics—such as “How to Choose an Iolite Gem” and “Real Marriage Proposal Ideas”—some venture into more unusual territory. An entry on “How to Secretly Find Out Her Ring Size” suggests, “If you’re going to try to measure her finger while she’s sleeping, that could work. Just be sure to use a strip of paper that is at least a half inch thick and not a string.”
Ceballos recommends that retailers who want to get into blogging include “really good content.… You have to go into it with the right intention,” Ceballos says. “If you just write posts related to your own site, or items that you have on sale, it doesn’t really help. You have to really inform people.”
After she had been blogging for a while, JoAnne Pittari, a blogger for New York City–based DeNatale Jewelers, heard something she never thought she’d hear. “I am watching one of the Fourth of July spectaculars, and my husband says, ‘Did you see that necklace that Beyoncé wore?’?” she recalls.
It was a funny reminder of what it takes to be a successful blogger. In a word: awareness. “[The blog] is always on my mind,” Pittari says. “I’m always listening for something.”
Pittari’s posts mostly cover product and celebrity jewelry, such as the engagement ring Paul McCartney chose and the items Oprah distributed in her final show. One regular element is the “Love-It Item of the Week,” selected by the staff.
But some entries take a more personal approach, such as a note marking Sept. 11. “DeNatale Jewelers is only a few steps away from Ground Zero,” Pittari wrote. “On the 10th anniversary of the World Trade Center attacks, we reflect on our blessings and the wonderful country we live in.”
Hyde Park Jewelers
Hyde Park Jewelers’ blog spotlights jewels that match the trends, like oversized chain link necklaces and bracelets.
Molly Wojcik has simple advice for any jeweler thinking of getting into blogging: “Have fun.”
Wojcik and her associates at the Denver-based, three-store Hyde Park Jewelers have been blogging—and, presumably, having fun—for the past year. The result is a lively mix of fashion news and jewelry-industry facts.
“We are strong in watches, bridal, and fashion jewelry, so we try to focus on those three areas,” says Wojcik, Hyde Park’s director of interactive marketing. Most posts feature images, since “jewelry and watches are very visual.”
Watch items are often penned by the store’s timepiece expert and demonstrate considerable knowledge of the field. But the posts also have a playful side: “The other night [friends] asked me to tell everyone what my favorite color was,” one author writes. “I answered with, ‘SPARKLE!’?”
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Wojcik believes blogging helps cultivate more personal relationships with customers. “It’s great for SEO, and it’s a way to get hits on our website,” she says. “But it’s also a way to take people outside of just the shopping side of things.”
Mark Gregory & Co.
Like many jewelers, Lisa Zurillo, owner of Mark Gregory and Co. in Dublin, Calif., tends to blog about topics like fashion and gemology—but with a strikingly personal twist.
In an item about Fashion Week, Zurillo admits she’d love to attend but can’t take time off from work, and besides, her “husband would think it was a form of torture.”
“I always lean more toward creative writing as opposed to analytical writing,” Zurillo says. “The blog is an outlet for that.”
She says the best posts are the ones that tell a story. “A lot of the information in the industry is very complicated,” she says. “I am a retailer; I am a business person; I am selling jewelry. But on another level, I’m a consumer, too. I like to wear jewelry. It’s nice to mix things up a little and put things in plain language.”
Hursts’ Berwyn Jewelers
Ron Hurst began blogging 10 years ago—before it was even called blogging.
For the past decade, his store, Hursts’ Berwyn Jewelers in Berwyn, Ill., has placed ads in the local newspaper featuring his musings on life and the jewelry industry. Now those columns are reprinted on the store’s blog.
Hurst’s writings often frankly recount his life as a jeweler. One discusses a customer who “proudly” informed him that her engagement ring was a copy of one found at Tiffany & Co. “I bit my tongue, but I’ll let you in on my feelings,” he wrote. “I’m always offended by copies of another’s work. It is not only unethical, but stupid and lazy.”
Other posts talk about lighter topics. One begins by noting the latest Woody Allen film, Midnight in Paris, which moves into a meditation about dreams and the role jewelry plays in them. Another traces the history of the Hope Diamond.
“I want people to see me as their authority on jewelry,” Hurst says. But he also wants to connect with readers: “The Internet has become the coffee shop of the 21st century.”
At Fink’s Jewelers, “Facebook ambassadors” repost blog content—such as red-carpet coverage—on their own pages.
When Denise Mann became the manager of e-commerce for Fink’s Jewelers in Roanoke, Va., in 2008, her first task was to get an “underworked” blog working again.
Early on, Mann asked employees to submit customer testimonials, creative marriage proposals, and news of their charity work. Current events also provide plenty of fodder: One recent post touted the upcoming Elizabeth Taylor jewelry auction at Christie’s; another covered red-carpet fashion (“At this year’s Teen Choice Awards, the Hollywood 20-somethings let their gorgeous dresses and sparkling designer jewelry do all the talking.”)
Like many retailers, Fink’s promotes its blog only on social media websites. To increase traffic from Facebook to the blog, Mann has established Facebook ambassadors at each of Fink’s 17 locations throughout Virginia and North Carolina. These are dedicated personnel who repost content from Fink’s corporate Facebook page to their personal pages so their friends, family members, and close customers can learn the latest Fink’s news.
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In late September, Fink’s launched its redesigned website, which features blog links in relevant product sections. “In the John Hardy section, for example, we’ll have links to blogs talking about the designer and new collections,” Mann says, adding one note of advice to aspiring jewelry bloggers: “The blog and other content sections on the main website benefit from consistent and constant [messaging].”
Jim Sweaney, co-owner of Mardon Jewelers in Riverside, Calif., is a natural-born storyteller. So when it comes to his store, he’s eager to share his tales. Thanks to posts that draw on his gemological and appraisal background, Sweaney has turned his blog into a rich source of information for his clients.
Sweaney began the blog in September 2008. Since its creation, he’s tried to write at least one post each week; he knows the more often content is updated, the more often links are refreshed on Google, helping Mardon maintain its No. 1 search-result position in his Southern California market.
Sweaney’s subjects range from custom projects to industry news. And he isn’t afraid to get a little contemplative. “[My] wife Kaye recently worked with a local family to renovate this heirloom bracelet,” he wrote of a restoration project. “We thought it very interesting how this wonderful object records the family history, a progression of jewelry makers and craftsmen, and the passage of time.”
Sweaney reposts his blogs to the Ganoksin Project, a gem and jewelry industry blog hub based in Bangkok, giving his store added exposure and simultaneously establishing Sweaney as an authority.
Raymond Lee Jewelers
A “Masculine Monday” blog by Raymond Lee Jewelers speculated on George Clooney’s watch choice in his new film.
Earlier this year, when Liz Edmunds assumed the role of social media director for Raymond Lee Jewelers in Boca Raton, Fla., she established a weekly schedule for the company’s blog to provide some much-needed structure.
The week begins with “Masculine Monday.” Content can cover anything from rapper Jay-Z’s favorite watches to New York Fashion Week updates for gents. A recent post, for example, picked up on a GQ magazine piece: “Raymond Lee Jewelers is definitely on board with the blue streak in men’s watches this fall, and don’t forget to check out GQ’s slideshow dedicated to the coolest of the blue steel for men’s timepieces.”
Tuesdays have a hard-news feel, focusing on company announcements and industry news, such as Jewelers of America’s support of the Main Street Fairness Act (including links to official press releases).
“Wedding Wednesday” is—you guessed it—all about bridal. One post discussed Chinese wedding traditions while the store’s buyers were attending a Hong Kong jewelry show. Thursdays feature market analysis; De Beers’ decision to move sights from London to Botswana was a particularly attention-grabbing post.
Finally, Friday blogs are devoted to an in-house video series, which Edmunds helps create and present. She was the talking head in the five-ways-to-spot-a-fake-Rolex video.
James Free Jewelers
James Free Jewelers’ blog just got its start last year. At first it was “informational—talking to customers,” says digital marketing director Sara Johnson. “Now it’s more conversational: a blog that talks with our customers.”
Ten of the 40 people that work at James Free’s two stores in Dayton and Montgomery, Ohio, contribute. Not that recruiting 25 percent of the store’s workforce to blog was an easy task.
“Many asked for help and direction; others said they had lots of stories but weren’t writers or that they were too busy,” Johnson says.
She encouraged bloggers to focus on stories coming from their areas of expertise, such as the process of helping a couple through a bridal jewelry purchase. But staffers also add content on personal pursuits. Sales associate Bryan Gase recently blogged about rappelling 27 stories down the Key Bank Building in downtown Dayton in Over the Edge, a fundraiser for Big Brothers, Big Sisters.
“My dad always told me that he was proud to have me as his son, but never more so than when I started to give back to Dayton,” Gase wrote. “I will continue to make my dad proud even though he is no longer with me in body. I know he will give me the strength and sense to always, always, give back more than I get.”