Jewelry makers work with precious metals, gemstones and other delicate materials. They use a variety of tools to cut, solder, polish and repair jewelry. Jewelers also design and create custom pieces, working with clients to understand their preferences and translate them into a unique jewelry piece.
Jewelers must have strong interpersonal communication skills and a keen eye for aesthetics to provide quality customer service and build long-term relationships with customers. They must stay abreast of industry trends, new techniques and materials to educate themselves on jewelry-making and to guide customers in choosing the best products for their needs.
The jewelry industry is highly competitive, and small players have to adapt quickly in order to survive. Consumers are increasingly demanding, and many retailers are shifting toward experiential retailing to stand out from the crowd. Moreover, technological advances are shaking up the sector, enabling customers to purchase and design their own jewelry online.
For example, some stores are using virtual reality and augmented reality (AR) to offer customers the ability to try on jewelry and customize their purchases. Others are using mobile apps to let customers save their favorite items or make notes about them. Some are even letting customers buy products directly from their social media pages.
Jewelry designers are also responding to consumer demands with more innovative designs and product lines. For example, one designer has developed an app that lets shoppers scan a photo of a person’s hand to create a 3D rendering of a ring. This allows customers to visualize how a ring might look on their own hands, allowing them to be more confident in their purchase decisions.
In addition, some retailers are embracing fast fashion by offering short-lived, limited-edition collections. For example, H&M launched a flamboyant jewelry-and-accessories collection by Vogue Japan editor Anna Dello Russo in December 2012, with item prices ranging from EUR20 to EUR300. Similarly, Beeline, a German branded jewelry player, adds hundreds of new pieces each month to its assortment—an unprecedented pace in the crowded fine-jewelry industry.
While large chains may sell top-quality jewelry, it’s difficult for them to match the expertise of independent jewelers. Employees at family-owned jewelry shops often have a lifetime of experience, and they’re passionate about their craft and are happy to share their expertise with customers.
Jewelers also set themselves apart from big-box retailers by offering personalized customer service and educating their staff about jewelry and gems. They are likely to offer more authentic gemstones and diamonds than a chain store, and they’ll be more willing to work with customers to design a piece that fits their personal style and budget. In addition, they are less reliant on commission-based sales and will be more flexible about setting payment plans. This flexibility is a major selling point for some consumers. Lastly, independents are often more willing to discount their products to attract customers. This is particularly true for high-end and luxury jewelry, which can be quite expensive.