Global Village

July 1999

Managing:Technology

Global Village

The final installment in this series about on-line jewelry communities features Jewelry Channel and some smaller networks

Jewelry Channel (www.jewelrychannel.com) is a new consumer-oriented shopping channel that gives retail jewelers space to display their catalogs and advertise their products. Jewelry Channel gives bricks-and-mortar retailers virtual "storefronts" to compete in an increasingly electronic world but, unlike many on-line shopping sites, it emphasizes retail stores in a consumer's region to forge a sense of community.

Services Offered

  • Jewelry Showrooms. Jewelry Channel partners with manufacturers to create an on-line catalog of product brands. It then designs Web sites for member retailers, who choose which lines they want to include on their sites, then access and purchase the wholesale products through the password-restricted JewelryTrade Channel. Jewelry Channel provides high-quality, digital images of products, as well as a secure server and e-commerce services for jewelers who want to sell on-line. Each Web site includes a customized list of store services, a business profile with pictures and a map to the store. You find jewelers through searches by ZIP code, product category or brand names.
  • Jewel Serve. This new service offers the same catalog service for jewelers who already have their own Web sites. You can add the catalog of digital images and be listed in the search engine just like a regular member, but without enlisting Jewelry Channel to design your site. The service is free until March 2000, then will be $19.95 per month. For an additional $15 per month, you can add an e-commerce-enabled showroom and access inventory through the JewelryTrade Channel.
  • Jewelers Directory. You can search for U.S. jewelers by name, city or state whether or not they're Jewelry Channel members.
  • Discover the World of Jewelry. This education section includes articles on diamonds, cultured pearls, watches, precious metals, fashion tips and trends.
  • Coming Soon. Jewelry Channel plans to add loose diamond and gemstone databases listing retailers' inventories and an estate jewelry marketplace with dealer showrooms and on-line auctions.

Who's On-Line
Jewelry Channel is only several months old, but it has attracted a good number of recognizable independent jewelers, some of whom maintain separate Web sites. Among the manufacturers listed in the catalog at press time were the Swiss Army Brand Watch Collection, Livingstone Jewelry, Pearl Jewelry Co. and Carla Corp.

If You're a Retailer
Jewelry Channel is trying to be a high-profile shopping channel (with banner ads on search engines) while still promoting the individual service and reputation of retail jewelry stores. If you're trying to establish a presence on-line, a community like this is a good place to start, especially because it takes care of the promotion for you.

Costs and Packages
You can get a trade password for free. You pay $995 per year plus one-time set-up fees (starting at $250 for basic page design) to be a Platinum Retailer, which includes hosting, site design, domain name registration, e-mail, on-line loose diamond and gemstone trading, estate jewelry sales, e-commerce-equipped showrooms and inventory management tools. Personal catalog showrooms with e-commerce capability are $495-$1,295 yearly, depending on the number of images. Jewel Serve will be $19.95 monthly (after March 2000) for basic service and $34.95 monthly for Platinum service.

Technically Speaking
Because it is relatively new, some of Jewelry Channel is still under construction, which means some links are not yet live. The pull-down menus and other search mechanisms seem to work well, and consumers have the option to search broadly or to narrow their choices by fine detail. The pages tend to consume a lot of browser memory, so close other applications while at the site.

Other On-Line Communities
For several months in this section, we've highlighted the major jewelry and gemstone networks on the Web. There are others that are much smaller and less recognized, but for a few small groups in the industry, these communities are a part of daily business. Here are some other communities:

  • Siteholder.net (www.siteholder.net). This is a diamond and gemstone trading floor open to dealers and retail jewelers. Dealers post their offerings for sale with specification and price. A markup is figured according to the user's authorization code. There's also a discussion forum.
  • The Spectrum Network (www.gemdata.com). Gem dealers and the minerally obsessed trade facts about colored gemstones, sources, pricing and availability on the Gem-and-Facets mailing list, available by subscribing at the Web site. Some postings are advertisements for dealers' new offerings. The site also has a gem and jewelry show calendar and a chat area.
  • 24Carat.net (www.24carat.net). This network of gem dealers includes a free list-serv for members to buy, sell, trade or discuss industry issues. Also available are a chat room, site design and hosting services, a gallery where jewelers can post pictures of finished designs, reference material about diamonds and gemstones and an enormous free links page.
  • Timezone (www.timezone.com). Regular participants in this bulletin board seem mostly to be watch sellers, who are knowledgeable and excited about answering technical and collectors' questions about brands and models. They trade information on movements, sales, antiques and trends. The board averages 20 to 30 postings daily.
  • The Eclectic Lapidary (www.bovagems.com/eclectic). This site started out as an on-line magazine for rockhounds and has evolved into a network with trading and discussion forums. Members post items for sale and needed items (mostly rough material and tools) in the forums; there's also a (very quiet) bulletin board for women working in the gem world. Membership is free.
  • Orchid (www.ganoksin.com). Participants post questions and comments about technical issues related to bench repair and custom design on this mailing list. The list can get about 40 to 50 messages a day, so you can opt to receive the "best of the best" version in the Digest.

– by Stacey King



Copyright © 1999 by Bond Communications.


 

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