Friday, May 01, 2020

A Letter to Retail Jewelers during COVID-19

By Rachel Dery, Director of Communication and Education
Roger Dery Gem Design for The Retail Jeweler.com

Dear Retail Jewelers,

This is certainly an uncertain time, isn’t it? Flashbacks of 2001 and 2008 and the years after coming to mind? Wondering if your savings will be enough to pay rent until quarantine ends, let alone pay your employees when you reopen until business rebounds? Are your employees like family and laying them off is the hardest thing you’ve ever done?

You, the neighborhood jeweler of your clients, have celebrated and mourned with them through Every. Single. Milestone. Of. Their. Lives. Milestones, joyous or tearful. This, the single greatest global catastrophe of our lifetimes, will be no different. While buying jewelry isn’t top of mind right now, learning new ways to be a neighbor is. You, the neighborhood jeweler of your clients, have a unique opportunity to share your humanity, your commonality with your clients during this sensitive time. You, the Retail Jeweler, will innovate and rise above. You always do, don’t you?

Feel tired? Discouraged? They do too. Perhaps, by listening, sharing, serving, and giving - the things you always do for your clients! - you can come out on the other side of COVID-19 as “My Jeweler, My Friend”…

You’re always the listening ear, aren’t you? It’s the blessing and curse of retail! This is the time to get even better at listening so that, after quarantine, your clients remember your response during COVID-19:

1. Call your clients just to check in, let them know you’re thinking about them, see what they need, listen to their fears, ask who they’re worried about, let them know you appreciate them, and be honest about your own struggles during quarantine!

2. There’s open space online right now to talk about non-quarantine topics that occupy time at home: how to clean your jewelry, how to organize your jewelry, how to keep your jewelry safe, Roger Dery’s discovering your Spirit Gem, exploring the world of colored gems, and whether to insure your jewelry! (check out The King’s Jewelers on Facebook) Encourage your clients to post their before and after pics or videos of cleaning, organizing, and discovering their Spirit Gem!

3. We’re all spending more time online than ever…because we have more time on our hands than ever! Make your online space a happy, welcoming conversation where your clients feel commonality and camaraderie.
· Ask your clients what they’re missing from non-quarantine life and share what your staff is missing. · Share each of your staff’s Spirit Gem Quiz results and ask your clients to share theirs back!
· Host Happy Hour with your jeweler every Friday night to celebrate making it through another week of quarantine!
· Share your (and your staff’s response) to the #getdressedanyway or #lockdowndressup movement and ask your clients to post and tag you back! (check out @noondaycollection on Instagram!)
· Calling all jewelry! Call upon your clients to post their jewelry and bring it out of the jewelry box when they #gotdresssedanyway or #lockdowndressup.
· Share the stories behind your family heirloom jewelry (or redesigned heirlooms!) and invite clients to share their own. (@stevequickjeweler is a great example!)

Throughout history, jewelers have marked the milestones of life. This is the time you’ll make sure your clients know you can’t WAIT to celebrate that next milestone with them, whatever and whenever it may be:

1. Your clients’ kids or grandkids are homeschooling right now and their parents need activities to keep them occupied! Share Roger Dery Gem Design’s Fun with Gems for Kids Activity Packets (grade-specific, downloadable, shareable, FREE) and Careers in the Jewelry Industry Quiz. Bonus: hold an online contest for sharing finished activities!

2. Offer to go grocery shopping and deliver groceries to your clients who are considered high risk.

3. Buy hand sanitizer or cleaning supplies and deliver it to your clients’ front porch with a handwritten note.

4. If it’s allowed in your state, offer to box, wrap, ship for free, and add a handwritten note for a special gift! A video appointment to shop proves your dedication to customer service.

Jewelers are always givers, aren’t they? If you’re able, even small gifts show your clients you’re in it for the long run with them.
1. Go local. Let clients know you will donate a portion of every gift card purchased during quarantine to your local food bank, No Kid Hungry, Meals on Wheels, COVID-19 Response Fund, etc. (Check out Cline Jewelers’ donation of $25 for every $100 gift card purchased)

2. Donate Globally: Gem Legacy has an emergency drive to feed 256 kids at high risk of malnutrition while East African school suspension leaves them without government sponsored lunch. You can feed a child for a month for just $25! Let your clients know you’re committed to giving back in your own industry.

Here’s to the you, the Retail Jeweler. A salute to your commitment to celebrating every milestone and your delight in the happiness of others. The world will celebrate again, and you will be there to make the moment sparkle as you always do.

For more information about Roger Dery Gem Design please visit rogerdery.com.

This editorial originally appeared on The Retail Jeweler's Blog. Read the original entry here.

Thursday, August 23, 2018

The Revised FTC Guidelines – Their Impact on the Diamond Business

PUBLISHER'S NOTE: An earlier version of this editorial was printed in the September 2018 issue of The Retail Jeweler. This is the most up-to-date version.

By Frank Dallahan, Editor, The Retail Jeweler

The Federal Trade Commission recently issued its revised Guides for the Jewelry, Precious Metals, and Pewter industries. Their stated purpose of this effort is “to advise marketers how to make non-deceptive claims about jewelry products rather than preventing unfair practices.”

For more information on the other FTC Guidelines reviewed, please click here.

While each of the topics reviewed by the FTC is important, the most eagerly and nervously awaited were the ones addressing cultured diamonds and diamond definition. Within the past couple of years, lab-created diamonds have occupied a great deal of time, attention, and thought throughout the industry. The discussion is eerily similar to what took place the last time the Guides were changed in the 1980s. Then, it was the “natural” gemstone groups who fought hard against giving lab created gemstones a modicum of respectability. They favored the use of the word “synthetic” to describe the fact that lab created gemstones were different and, therefore, not as good as those coming from the earth. The position of the diamond people today was virtually identical with the position of the Colored Gemstone importers in the 80s.

The diamond sector of the jewelry industry had an intense interest in the outcome of what the guides said about lab-grown and mined diamonds. Both sides of the question wanted their way to prevail. The mined diamond group wanted to retain the use of the word natural. They also would have preferred to have the word synthetic connected with lab created diamonds.

Lab-created diamonds won the argument with the declaration from the FTC, that a diamond is a diamond as long as it is chemically, optically, and physically identical with mined diamonds. The caveat of the 1980’s that a lab created diamond must still retain the phrase “lab-created” associated with a manufacturer’s name such as Chatham “lab-created” diamonds. The FTC allowed sellers of mined diamonds to continue to be able to use words like: natural, real and genuine. The reality, I suspect, is those descriptors are immaterial. The important word in any discussion with a consumer is the word diamond. After that it becomes a matter of how well the diamond is cut; what the clarity is; what the color is, what does it weigh? And, finally, how much does the diamond cost?

I think mined diamonds have a distinct edge over lab created diamonds because the jeweler has to explain what a lab created diamond is. How is it created? How is it manufactured? The jeweler needs to create a unique selling proposition for the lab created diamond. While the lab created diamond is chemically, optically, and physically identical to a diamond from the earth, a jeweler will likely differentiate the two by stating mined diamonds provide employment and education for many people throughout the world and especially in Africa. Whereas, many created diamonds originate in China and provide education and employment to many Chinese people, the difference between the two products comes down to price and the environment.

The environment question is one promoted by lab-created producers, though they fail to acknowledge the heavy use of electric power to produce the lab-created diamonds. And, of course, the mined diamond producers are accused of tearing up the earth without any regard for the environmental impact they cause. It is a point counterpoint argument with neither side scoring points.

While branding is not a major factor in either group, there are several mined diamond producers who do have a semblance of brand names, though in the main they are trade names. Lazare Kaplan, Julius Kline, Hearts on Fire, Forevermark are a few that may have an edge on the lab-created producers when it comes name recognition and/or endorsement from retail jewelers but ultimately, it is the trust emanating from the jeweler that is most important to the consumer.

Lab-created diamond producers do not have their act together in developing a branding story that would create a needed unique selling proposition. The impression is that the product carries a price advantage. DeBeers announcement that their lab-created diamonds are ok and appropriate for fun, fashion jewelry and that they are only worth $800 per carat, puts the lab-created producers into a box. Of course, these conditions will probably change as we go forward. We will likely see a branding effort develop. We’ll also see a lab-created association emerge as well.

The battle lines have been joined. The FTC Guidelines started the conversation going within the trade. The reality is nothing much has changed except for the DeBeers move into the created diamond business and positioning it as fun jewelry.

The FTC Guidelines likely will not have a material effect on the jewelry business going forward. It really isn’t that much different than what happened with the colored gemstones in the 80’s.

The more things change, the more they stay the same!

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