Pearls of Wisdom
The high popularity of pearls in fashion, for wedding wear, and as a go-to gift of love makes it a must-have product category in any jeweler’s inventory.
From pearl classics like strands and studs to jewelry designs in silver and gold, there’s so much in play thanks to the wide variety of types, colors, shapes, and sizes pearls come in and in price points across the board.
In research by the Italian luxury market-consulting firm, The Futurist for The Plumb Club, pearls are a key product category reflected in the leading jewelry trends. Consumers from all ages and segments prefer jewelry that can be layered and purchased individually, building in time an interesting jewelry wardrobe. Pearls are among the favorites in a variety of design styles, from long and skinny to contemporary and geometric to organic and baroque. The gem works well paired with diamonds and color stones, as well as silver and gold.
To build a profitable pearl department, take stock in your current inventory advocates Kathy Grenier, vice president business development for Imperial in Providence, Rhode Island. What do you have and what can’t you do without? Who do you want to attract and what are your expectations? She underscores that jewelers need to really understand their customers to curate a pearl collection that’s right for their audience. “If your average sale across the board is $300, you’re not going to put in a $300,000 piece,” she explains.
As a company, Grenier says Imperial has undergone its own stock evaluation to hone in on what matters to customers. “Over the last two years we’ve been looking at our line, creating new designs, retiring old ones, listening carefully to our customers and sales associates to get a 360 degree view of how our products are seen, delivered, and displayed, who’s buying them, and who’s not,” she shares. “Our offerings reflect what we’ve learned.”
Grenier references extensions of Imperial’s Tahitian pearl and silver jewelry collection as an example, a category the brand is very strong in. Creating excitement and inspiring interest in beautiful pearl designs, the black pearl and silver line pays attention to detail, with luxury findings and finishes that offer a designer look for an affordable price.
But Cora-Lee Colaizzi, director of marketing and catalogs and senior merchandiser Quality Gold, Fairfield, Ohio underscores the importance of carrying the basics. “If you don’t have the basics consumers will go elsewhere.” That includes pearl strands, stud earrings, and bracelets, particularly the stretch style, she says, advocating for multiple levels of stock within your price points.
Pearl studs in particular provide enormous opportunity in their versatility, a huge selling point, says Dana Cali, marketing and communications for the New York based pearl house, Mastoloni, who notes that earring jackets are all the rage.
Pearl experts advocate jewelers include a selection of fashion forward styles and higher-end pieces with diamonds and gemstones, as well as box sets of pearls and a children’s line in multiple colors of pearls (look to brands like Honora, Imperial, Marathon, and Quality Gold).
Show & Tell
It takes more than just buying some pearls and putting them in a showcase to be successful in this category, preaches Grenier. “Presentation is important. Place positive attention on your offerings.” She advises jewelers to not create their own boundaries that lead to miss opportunities, but rather inspire and engage customers to think about pearls for many reasons.
Grenier encourages jewelers to present their pearl merchandise in a way that explores how it fits into their customers’ lifestyles. “Show people what pearls look like on,” she says, “why they’re the perfect layering companion with the jewelry they already own, and how to wear mix and match.” She advocates creating vignettes that show pearls in relation to other jewelry; and rotating merchandise for different perspectives.
Cali is a proponent of social media as a critical communication tool in today’s fluid shopping environment, as consumers look to these platforms for inspiration, advice, information, and ideas.
“They’re looking for guidance as to what expert and professionals deem the perfect gift or must-have,” Cali says, noting that social media is the easiest and most cost effective channel for jewelers to reach consumers and target their message.
Her two favorite channels are Instagram and Pinterest. “Take advantage of videos, image carousels and stories on Instagram to show multiple angles of an item,” she says, citing Pinterest as an effective tool to create gift and style guides. Cali hails the analytics beneficial to tune messaging and track product interest. Grenier advocates a mix of product and lifestyle imagery in posts, which has been successful for Imperial.
With its strong tagline “find your luster”, Honora celebrates real women and pearls, “putting real pearls in the hands of real people”. Since launching its “What Makes You Unique” campaign in 2018 of real women weari
ng their favorite pearls, the brand has pushed real stories and hash tags like #LusterFound, #PearlsThatGoWith. The brand is also tapping into the new “March is Me Month”, presented by the Women’s Jewelry Association, a marketing campaign encouraging women to celebrate themselves with jewelry. It aligns with Women’s History Month, and International Women’s Day, celebrated on March 8