Rapaport Magazine
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Retail Rap

By Phyllis Schiller
Do High-Tech Tools Help Sell Jewelry?


Resin-grown three-stone engagement ring model created utilizing the technology of 3-D printing through the ProJet® 1200, sold through Gemvision and Stuller. Photo courtesy Stuller.
The 4Cs are not the only things that make a piece of diamond jewelry a sales winner. In an ongoing series, Rapaport Magazine explores the “3Ws” — what’s selling, what’s not and why — by going straight to the people who really know — jewelry retailers. Each month, we ask a sampling of retailers to comment on the important issues that are facing the industry today. Here is what they had to say when asked: “Do you use tech tools to help you reach customers?”

BRYAN COOK, ASSISTANT GENERAL MANAGER
CHALMERS JEWELERS
MIDDLETON, WISCONSIN
   “I would say technology absolutely helps and we use quite a few high-tech tools. Probably the most notable is our vertical wax grower, which allows us to grow 3-D models. We design all our pieces in CAD software. We do everything on site, every single step. It gives customers confidence that their piece is quality made and a lot of people, especially here in Wisconsin, like the fact that things are made locally.”

JAYME PRETZLOFF, DIRECTOR OF MARKETING
WIXON JEWELERS
MINNEAPOLIS, MINNESOTA
   “We incorporate technology within our marketing. It’s what allows us to do so many great things. We do a lot of different ways of photographing and videoing jewelry to send to clients around the country who aren’t able to make it into our store. Working through the Adobe Creative Suite, our graphic designer will create the video. It’s a rotating image and depending upon the intricacy of the piece, we might send different angles so clients can get a good sense of the design. I feel this is a great tool for us. The image is the closest to seeing the jewelry in real life. The rotating video allows customers to see different angles that they might not see in just a photo. Since the file size is usually so large, we’ll send it to the client in a Dropbox, a cloud-based service program, which allows them to open the link and view the jewelry from their email.
   “We also integrate a lot of technology within iPads in the store. The apps of many of our designers and suppliers and watch brands are built-in so that our salespeople can use them to easily find the correct items to show clients.”

STACEY STAUCH, MANAGER
CREWS JEWELRY
GRANDVIEW, MISSOURI
   “We work with a bridal company, the Naledi Collection, that is part of the IGC brand. We have their app on iPads in the store. The app also connects to their diamond inventory. We can show a ring we might not have in stock to the client with different diamonds in it. Using the iPad, we can show 3-D imaging of diamonds. We also work with The Edge for Jewelers software program to email customers and create direct mailings.”

DOUG VAN DYKE, OWNER
E.R. SAWYER JEWELERS
SANTA ROSA, CALIFORNIA
   “We work all of our repairs with our clients under extreme magnification cameras up on a big screen and when they look at it they generally choose to do more than what just needs to be repaired. It lets them see up close the places where the piece is worn. We use that extensively for repairs. We also could use it to show the difference between certain pieces on the retail end, but it’s not as powerful a tool there as it is in on the repair side. We don’t have any apps that customers can use in the store at the moment, but it’s on our radar. We do use CAD programs for custom designs — it’s become so natural that I don’t even think of it as being technology. It’s kind of like our laser welder that we’ve had for 25 years.”

DIANNA RAE HIGH, OWNER
DIANNA RAE JEWELRY
LAFAYETTE, LOUISIANA
   “We’re full on CAD-CAM around here. Most of what we do is custom; we don’t really carry lines or brands. We brand ourselves with our custom jewelry. We use Matrix and CounterSketch to design on the computer and we then use 3-D printing so the customer can try the ring on before we cast it. We do a lot of work for clients out of state. With the 3-D software, it looks as if the ring has been finished and photographed. We can email this to the customer so they know exactly what they’re getting while we’re designing. It’s a very successful tool.
   “I’ve been in the jewelry business a long time and went through the old way with the sketches and the wax, but that process creates a lot of stress for the customers because they have to leave so much unknown. The way we do it now is we show our clients pictures and then if they love it and want to order it, we can do a 3-D print that we actually paint whatever color they want — rose gold, white gold. We’ll even go as far as setting in the diamond and they can come in and try the ring on. This allows them to know exactly what they’re going to get and we can go over any changes that need to be made easily at that point.”

GINA GOLDNER WALLACH, VICE PRESIDENT
WALLACH JEWELRY DESIGNS
LARCHMONT, NEW YORK
   “We use a tablet out front if we need to show images of our custom designs so we can give clients ideas of what we’ve done and help them when we’re designing with them. On our website, we have a ring builder and a diamond search tool. Customers can select from designs that we offer through various bridal vendors and choose settings and search for diamonds and basically ‘build’ a ring before they even come in here and discuss it with us. They can see what it will look like; it’s a very helpful tool. And we use The Edge software to keep track of our inventory and our customer database.”

Article from the Rapaport Magazine - September 2016. To subscribe click here.

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