Pearls are described by the great gemologist of the late 19th century, George Fredrick Kunz, as “a gift of nature on which man cannot improve.”
Women love the beauty of pearls and the stories of all the different types and locations they are cultivated, shares third generation jeweler Laura Stanley of Laura Stanley Personal Jeweler, Little Rock, Arkansas. “They love the idea of pearls growing around the world.”
She hails pearls a big draw for female self-purchasers, especially with the variety of designs available today. Stanley says that her customers, who are over 40 years old, love that they can get dramatic looks for great prices, like pieces set with big “fireball” pearls, which she adores from Mastoloni. The key to selling pearls, besides loving them, is to continually illustrate the many ways customers can accessorize themselves and gift their friends and family with pearls.
Mix & Mingle
Case space in a jewelry store is pricey real estate, recognizes Wendy Fox, Senior Director of Sales-Independent Division, The Richline Group, New York City, for the pearl brand, Honora. “We see the most success with our retail partners when they focus on the right blend of high turning fashion, while keeping a selection of basics and a few special pieces. When a case is interesting and diverse, we see the best sell through.”
Having the basics is necessary in any pearl collection, which should include stud earrings, traditional strands, and a few complementary bracelets and rings, advises Cora-Lee Colaizzi, Director of Marketing and Catalogs and Senior Merchandiser Quality Gold, Fairfield, Ohio. Offering a variety of shapes and qualities allow jewelers to meet expectations and fit price points. She adds that pearl jewelry set in silver remains popular and is a great place to start if you don’t have a pearl collection, as it requires minimal investment
Dana Cali, Marketing and Communications for Mastoloni Pearls, New York advocates jewelers integrate pearls in cases with diamond and color stone jewelry. Kathy Grenier, Vice President of Business Development for the Providence, Rhode Island based Imperial Pearl concurs, advising jewelers against arranging pieces because they go together or are sold as a set.
“Put concepts together for your customers—pair classic with trendy, pearls with non-pearls,” Grenier suggests. “Create visuals that start conversations. Present pearls as you suggest items be worn.”
Cali concurs that it is important to show customers how well pearls complement and mix with other gems and jewelry that one may already own. “This is particularly smart for bridal displays,” she says. “It’s important to show customers how to wear the pearls in your case. Avoid the outdated single strand on bust, and layer or knot several strands on one form. Layer and incorporate pearl and non-pearl jewelry in displays. Help customers visualize how they might wear their pearls.” She also advocates that Sales Associates double as style inspiration and wear their favorite pearls in the store.
Most importantly, take the pearls out of the case, advocates Cali. Let customers try them on, style them in different ways, walk around in them, so they can fully appreciate their luster and beautiful body color, overtones, and iridescence.
“When you hold pearls there’s a warmth and life to them that draw you in,” says Grenier. “Pearls beg to be touched.”
In order to engage with the market, Cali suggests to its jewelers to stay in contact with the brand’s Facebook and Instagram accounts. “We produce a great deal of content and interact with not only retail partners, but the public as well.
Engage with customers, run promotions, contests, and giveaways, Cali cheers. “It’s important to take advantage of stories on Instagram and Facebook, in addition to scheduled posts,” she says. “Stories increase your visibility and are a great way to boost engagement, specifically with the poll, question/answer and emoji slider features. Also think beyond single product shots on white backgrounds; show customers how to style pearls, provide inspiration, and educate customers on pearls.”
Stanley, who closed her family’s 80-year-old jewelry store two years ago, operates as a jewelry consultant. In addition to private appoints, she also conducts special trunk shows for clients, and one of her most successful has been with Mastoloni. She says the pearl brand not only brings in a broad range of merchandise, it provides her with the support tools she needs to bring customers in, such as professional invitations, marketing material, and informational videos that she uses to pre-educate customers and get them excited about the event. “Trunk shows provide a different shopping experience that is much more interactive and offer greater one-on-one attention with brand support.”
Throw pearl-only events, advocates Cali. “Our retailers consistently sell more pearls during pearl-focused events than during full-store events. The most successful events are those with unique, compelling and interactive themes. You know your customers and their interests better than anyone; play to those interests and engage them.”
Cali suggests playing off of well-known pop-culture aspects of pearls when choosing event themes. Depending on your market and customer base, there are many directions to take. “If you’re in a more conservative, classic area, opt for a Chanel, Jackie O or royal family theme. If your customer base is more into the trends of a younger age or located in a more fast-paced area, grab their attention with a fun, interactive theme such as Breakfast at Tiffany’s, mermaid/underwater or couture/fashion week.”