Jewelers are perhaps one of the most important consultants a couple about to be married will meet. Couples seek out a jeweler to help them translate their love, life experiences, and hopes and dreams in the perfect rings that are the iconic, symbolic, everyday expressions of their commitment in precious metal and stone.
It is from this place of trust that jewelers need to develop their relationship as a wedding consultant for their customers. With the engagement ring purchase, jewelers have the opportunity to establish gifts of fine jewelry as the means of marking important relationships and moments throughout this journey.
The engagement ring sale should not be the end-all be-all, but the beginning of a full service wedding experience.
It’s all about offering solutions. People are busy. They want help getting things done and ideas for unique ways of doing it. This is where sales training is key.
Many jewelers miss the opportunity to make the wedding bands sale with the engagement ring, and they never see the couple again, says Rebecca Foerster, executive vice president, strategic planning and marketing for Leo Schachter Diamonds, LLC, New York. She notes that wedding bands should not be treated as an afterthought. “The staff must be trained to link sales beyond the engagement ring, and the fail starts with not capturing the wedding bands sale.”
Working with brands can help make the connection, touts Renato Cruz, vice president of product development for Sumit Diamond/Laxmi, New York. Branded collections offer matching bands and complementary rings that simplify the decision-making process. Foerster concurs, noting that brands come with all the bells and whistles that help tell a compelling story—like look book, consumer brochure, counter signage, displays, advertising, images, videos, and social media posts. “Everything we provide our customers is turn-key.”
Engaging the Conversation
The average spend on jewelry, above the cost of wedding rings, is about $500, according to The Knot, leading online wedding planner, with the potential for much more. Six in 10 brides give gifts to their bridesmaids with the most popular being earrings, necklace, and bracelet. Favorite gifts include birthstone jewelry like studs or solitaires or gems that match the color of the bridesmaid dress. Eight out of 10 brides buy jewelry—nearly 60% fine jewelry—to wear on their wedding day with earrings, necklace, and bracelet the favorites. One out of three grooms wear jewelry, most notably, cufflinks.
The sales staff must be trained to open the conversation, to present the needs and possible solutions, advises Wendy Fox, senior director of sales independent division for Honora, a Richline pearl brand in New York. “Jewelers need to identify products they can sell for the occasion. Jewelry makes the perfect keepsake for the wedding party and something they can use for the event.” She touts pearl’s variety of types, colors and price points as offering opportunities for affordable bridal party gifts and accessories for the wedding day. Think classic studs and solitaires, strand bracelets and necklaces, and drop earrings.
The same goes for the groomsmen, says Fox, noting that Richline’s men’s brand Dolan Bullock does very well with cufflinks and money clips for the occasion. Products range from stainless steel and sterling silver to gold with or without gems.
To get customers thinking about the perfect gift for the guy you can always count on, the menswear brand IB Goodman developed its “Wingman” campaign that merchandises and markets product to take the guesswork out of the decision making, says Jonathan Goodman Cohen, for the men’s jewelry manufacturer IB Goodman, Newport, Kentucky. “We’re very focused on gifts for men in bridal parties. Jewelry accessories including cufflinks, money clips, ties bars and pins, even rings, pendants and bracelets make great groomsmen gifts and party favors and can range in prices to fit every budget from $35 to $300 retail.”
Beyond the Showcase
How you merchandise the store is important, says Foerster, who advocates against compartmentalizing product, but rather setting scenes and telling stories that take customers on a journey.
Jewelers need to create special moments in their store, advocates designer Phyllis Bergman with Mercury Rings, division of Interjewel Group, New York, who considers the showcase a thing of the past. She is a proponent of hosting special events, partnering with other wedding vendors, and maintaining a strong multi-channel approach. “Just the fact that online retailers like Blue Nile are opening brick and mortar support the concept that all avenues must be engaged.”
Ecommerce and social media are critical components that must be in place for jewelers to succeed, says Jeffrey Cohen, vice-president of sales, KGS Jewels, New York. “Retailers need to put all of their focus on creating an online experience that carries through. How you make that connection, how you reach the customer is what every jeweler has to focus on.” He cites quality photography and videos important elements in the messaging. Moreover, other visual platforms like Pinterest and Instagram can help jewelers curate collections and tell stories that guide consumers with ideas and information.
Michael O’Connor, stylist to the stars and correspondent to Engagement 101 says that jewelers have the ability to help couples and families set new wedding traditions, especially with same sex couples looking for unique ways to celebrate their love. “We need to evolve the way we approach wedding jewelry sales.”