Virginia Is for Jewelry Lovers

Intrepid store owner Jenny Caro will search for your lost stone or your dream colored diamond

1. What advertisement or promotion elicited the most response for you?
Last year we did a “Twelve Days of Christmas” promotion. It was a Facebook event where we gave away the number of items for each of the 12 days, with one giveaway on the first day, two on the second, and so on. We’d post an image of the pieces to be given away that day, and the first person to tag an item got the prize. People caught on early that they had to be quick, so we had many people closely follow the contest. One day, there were 400 comments on a single item. ­The 78 pieces given away cost us about $2,000. In addition to going from 250 to 500 “likes,” we had a ton of postings and shares. Winners had to come in to get the prize, which helped bring people in during the holidays, and we knew all the winners were from our market.

2. What was one of your most memorable sales?
Hearts On Fire created a collection of fancy intense natural yellow diamonds in their Dream Diamond, a modified square cut. The yellow Dream diamonds surrounded by round melee were test-marketed in Asia, but HOF made that jewelry available on a first-come, first-served basis to U.S. retailers. We jumped at the chance because we have a customer who loves colored diamonds and exclusive collections. It was very satisfying for us to sell such unique pieces to a customer who we know appreciates them as much as we do.

3. What was your finest hour in the realm of customer service?
A customer who works for the Chamber of Commerce gave a talk at a local high school. The day she gave her talk, she lost the Hearts On Fire diamond from her solitaire ring. She contacted me right away, letting me know she searched the classroom but didn’t find it. Two weeks later I woke up and a voice in my head said, “Go look for that diamond.” I stood in front of the room and put myself in her shoes, addressing the students. There was an old wood lectern at the front of the room. I assumed she motioned her arm when speaking and hit her hand on the edge. Trying to follow where the diamond and its setting may have gone after impact, I looked under the teacher’s desk and saw something sparkle in the light. I [went to] the Chamber’s office and showed her the serial number on the diamond’s girdle. She couldn’t believe it.

4. How do you differentiate your store from the competition?
In our market, which includes D.C., we’re focusing on the female self-­purchase demographic. We’ve been doing this in part by buying more fashion-forward jewelry at lower price points. The two brands that have played a big role with self-purchase customers are Pandora and Honora. We have shop-in-shops from each vendor.

5. What’s the best idea you’ve come up with for your store?
Our best idea was giving gold buyers near-melt for their trade. My husband, John, said, “Why shouldn’t we treat their scrap gold like cash if it will engage them with our store?” His approach to gold buying made our “transaction customers” into customers we can develop relationships with. This played a major role in doubling our total business ­during the recession.

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