Rapaport Magazine

Remarkable Promise

An original setting and innovative designs are on display at Dianna Rae Jewelry in Lafayette, Louisiana.

By Joyce Kauf
Butterfly pin with watermelon tourmaline wings and 84 accent diamonds, created by Kiera Baines.
We’re not your typical jewelry store,” explains Dianna Rae High, owner of Dianna Rae Jewelry in Lafayette, Louisiana. “Everything is unique — from our custom pieces and collections to every element of the store environment. And everything we do reflects our brand pillars — relational, original, masterful, innovative and philanthropic.”
   The 1,500-square-foot store, which opened in August 2014, is the culmination of High’s extensive experience in the industry. “I wanted a beautiful store where the emphasis was all about custom design and exemplary service,” she says. Knowing that she needed to take a very strategic approach to realize her vision, High devoted much thought to identifying her core values around which she developed the brand pillars. “Having these pillars keeps us focused on what we want to achieve,” she points out.
   Location was also a key consideration. The store is just blocks from an affluent community in this southern Louisiana city and also conveniently situated on a road that connects that community with big-box stores such as Target and Best Buy. “I often describe it as between High Street and Main Street,” says the retailer. While most of her customers come in search of the “dream” piece they can afford but can’t find, some customers tell her they were attracted to the store as they drove by.
   “Walking into the store is like entering a home rather than a commercial establishment,” says High, who notes that the decor incorporates the relational, original and masterful pillars. Every piece of furniture was custom-made. “All the finishes in the store reinforce the fact that we are master craftsmen,” she emphasizes.

Master Craftsmen
   The color scheme of soft beige accented with blue creates a warm and welcoming ambience. Two design stations were specifically created to facilitate the relationship between the customer and designer. Each features a triangular table facing a computer monitor. “Sitting next to the customer encourages the collaborative process,” High points out. The Dianna Rae logo is carved into these wooden tables that were created by local craftsmen, a husband-and-wife team. Anything that “speaks design,” such as a rendering or a photograph that inspired the piece, is posted on a sketch board within view of the table. “We want the customer to know that we really are creating the jewelry,” she says, noting the workshop is visible from the selling area.
   Jewelry is merchandised by collection, which includes her Bridal, Masterworks, Odyssey, Linque and Yummy Mummy Collections. Rings are her top sellers, followed by pendants and necklaces. In addition to diamonds, popular gemstones include sapphires, emeralds, aquamarines and morganites.
   In a nod to the state’s heritage, the curved-leg display cases are in French Provincial style. The freestanding cases enable customers to view the jewelry from every angle. Higher vitrines sit atop pedestals, which gives the opportunity to showcase “special” pieces. Currently, these pieces include the 18-karat yellow gold pendant featuring two moonstones and a pear-shape labradorite that garnered first place in the 2105 Jewelers of America (JA) CASE awards for jewelry valued up to $2,000. Another raised case displays the carved butterfly pin with watermelon tourmaline wings and 84 accent diamonds, shown opposite, created by Kiera Baines, one of the store’s designers, that received JA’s Buyers’ Choice award. Technology was used start-to-finish in creating the pin and ensuring that the wings move to give the impression that the butterfly just landed on someone’s shoulder.

Jewelry Playground
   High often takes customers on a tour of the store to show off her “jewelry playground.” Approximately 50 prototypes of engagement rings in sterling silver and cubic zirconia (CZ) are “freely displayed without any cases” on a shelf in a built-in credenza for customers to have fun trying them on. Above the shelf, the “real” product is shown from the glass windows designed to be eye-level with the customer.
   In still another original decorative touch with distinctive local flavor, the walls flanking the credenza are lined in alligator skin wallpaper and the chairs in High’s office are also covered in alligator leather.

Remarkable Promise
   High gives the traditional gift certificate an innovative twist by transforming it into a “Remarkable Promise.” Instead of being simply a paper certificate, her gift certificate comes with a sterling silver and CZ ring placed in a gift box. “The woman has something to open, as well as the promise of a gift,” she explains.
   While a “Remarkable Promise” gift certificate is special, the person buying a gift often knows exactly what the recipient would like thanks to the wish-list pads stored behind each showcase. After a customer writes down the item she would like, it is entered into the computer. However, High takes customer service a step further by requesting permission to also email this wished-for item to whomever the customer chooses by checking off the box, “Please send my wish to….”
“Remarkable” is a word that High often uses in promotions and on her website. As in determining the brand pillars, she searched for a word that captured the essence of her designs and her store. “Remarkable is something wonderful, but memorable as well,” she says. “It really sets us apart.”

Article from the Rapaport Magazine - March 2015. To subscribe click here.

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