Professional Jeweler Archive: Jewelers Under Glass

October 2000

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Jewelers Under Glass

Customers appreciate being able to see into your bench room


I-i-i-i-i-it’s showtime, folks! That is, it’s time to show what goes on in the back room. According to store designer Ruth Mellergaard, there’s something of a trend among jewelers to make work areas part of the retail experience.

“It’s becoming more common to show your work areas,” says Mellergaard, president of GRID/3 International, New York City. “In a lot of stores, we have a window so customers can watch while their jewelry is worked on.”

Call it paranoia. Many customers like to keep an eye on valuable pieces rather than watch them disappear into the back room, says Mellergaard.

It could be the trend toward “experience” retailing. According to GRID/3 client Ken Rutz, co-owner of The Jeweler’s Touch, Placentia, CA, many customers value their jewelry more if they’re able to observe its production. “People really like to see what’s going on back there,” says Rutz, whose store features a nearly 100-sq.-ft. picture window that reveals six bench jewelers at work. “Whether they’re carving a wax or sizing a ring, it’s one thing that sets us apart.”

Showcasing the work area is good marketing. Not all stores have on-site technicians, say Mellergaard and Rutz. For those who do, this is a canny way to advertise it. Says Rutz, “It really demonstrates we’re not subbing things out.”

Mellergaard designed a stainless steel viewing bar from which customers can watch the jewelers work. The area also features books, magazines and pamphlets on gemology and precious metals. “Husbands and kids love it,” says Rutz. “They’ll sit there for 10-15 minutes while the women shop.”

The store’s custom work accounts for about 25% of business. The store also produces its own line of jewelry and completes 50-70 repairs daily.

At The Jeweler’s Touch, the work area is opposite the entrance. The work area had been on view since its opening in 1992, but was enlarged in the expansion.

The area is brightly lighted and kept scrupulously clean. (Because of its messiness, polishing is one of the few tasks done out of view.) Jewelers’ names are even posted on the workbench.

So important is this feature that Rutz alerts benchwork candidates to the arrangement during job interviews. “At first, some of them are a little uncomfortable because they’ve never been in this position,” he says. “But after a month or so, they like the recognition.”

– by Mark E. Dixon

Picture windows behind the showcases allow customers
to watch their jewelry being worked on at The Jeweler’s Touch.

Copyright © 2001 by Bond Communications