Professional Jeweler Archive: Jewelry's Image During a Crisis

December 2001


Jewelry's Image During a Crisis

The message of luxury and excess was already in jeopardy before Sept. 11. Now wedding, anniversary and other family celebrations take center stage

On Sept. 11 and in the days that followed, jewelry industry marketer James Porte was struck by the power of jewelry as a symbol of love and connection – even in the face of horrific disaster. “That’s what this industry really sells: The memory and emotion that jewelry signifies,” he says.

Early reports indicate bonding occasions – such as marriages, celebrating anniversaries and marking significant birthdays – are rising in the face of the terrorist attacks. “Getting married is a real life-affirming act,” one psychologist told The New York Times. The newspaper also reported that even couples in the midst of separations were reconsidering their plans. “People put things in perspective and realize their relationships may not be as bad as they think,” said a counselor.

In light of such cultural changes, Porte suggests jewelers rethink ad campaigns and focus on promoting the core occasions for which jewelry has always been the premiere gift. Here are some other tips from Porte.

Special Dates

Get customers’ birthday and anniversary dates. It was easy to ignore such common advice during boom times. But now setting sales associates to work gathering this information takes care of a couple of problems. First, it busies workers who might be coping with decreased sales. Second, it creates a reason to call customers who haven’t stopped by. Porte suggests telling customers the reason for the call is to update customer lists.

If some sales associates feel uncomfortable asking for personal information such as birthdays and anniversaries, Porte suggests owners or more experienced salespeople create a script for them: “While we’re updating your record, can you tell us when your anniversary is and your family birthdays? We have something special we’d like to offer you at that time.” Porte also suggests offering a dollar for every customer profile a sales associate completes. “Believe me, you’ll get them,” he says.

Special Offers

Come up with a “special” for customers celebrating special occasions. A jewelry cleaning of any kind is a good way to get customers into your store. One of the most effective cleaning tools Porte has seen recently is a countertop machine called Jewelcuzzi by C.G. Creations, Pearl River, NY. “A lot of people don’t like to see their jewelry go into a back room to be cleaned,” he says. “The Jewelcuzzi is a sleek apparatus that’s fun to watch. You can invite customers in and use phrases such as ‘before your very eyes’ and ‘in less than a minute your jewelry will look like new.’ This takes it beyond a simple cleaning.”

Ad Effectiveness

Examine your ad campaign. Though it seems basic, Porte says, many retailers don’t track which ads work and where. New Diamond Trading Co. ads in its holiday “Seize the Day” campaign may provide inspiration on the kinds of relationship celebrating messages that work. Says one, which debuted this season: “Somewhere she went from the girl of your dreams to the love of your life.”


Do something unexpected in your store to create a bond with customers. “It’s not about technology and it can’t be impersonal,” he says. Porte cites restaurateurs who, after the bill is paid, offer guests an after-dinner drink on the house. It almost always takes diners by surprise and impresses them. “We have to get back to things we lost, like people caring about people,” he says.

For one client, he developed a black book for men on how to propose. The book, which can be engraved with a jeweler’s name, includes 46 of the best proposals he’s ever heard – each recounted in five or six sentences. Now available exclusively for jewelers who buy from Isaac Klein, a New York City diamantaire and De Beers sightholder, the black book creates bonding opportunities with men nervous about blowing the big moment, he says. “Statistics show 56% of people who buy engagement rings don’t return to the same store for their wedding rings, so there’s something we’re not doing to create a bond between jeweler and customer,” says Porte.


Promote diamond upgrades as anniversary gifts. Suggesting that men increase the size of their wives’ engagement diamonds, solitaire diamond earrings or solitaire diamond necklaces helps them solve a yearly problem. It’s especially attractive in a year when everyone appreciates loved ones more. “Or suggest a three-stone piece that incorporates a diamond the woman already owns,” he says. In these uncertain times, “people are thinking you can’t take it with you,” says Porte. It’s up to you to seize the day.

  • James Porte, Jewelry Marketing Institute, New York City; (954) 389-4777,
  • Isaac Klein Diamonds, New York City; (954) 389-4777.
  • C.G. Creations, Pearl River, NY; (800) 431-1606.

– by Peggy Jo Donahue

We are family

Top: Images from the World Gold Council (for gold) and from Tiffany & Co. (for pearls) show mothers and children.

Bottom: Diamond Trading Co. and Godiva ads depict enduring romance, celebrated with chocolate and diamonds. Both kinds of appeals may hit high notes during this crisis season when people want to strengthen family bonds.

Jewelry industry marketer James Porte created a promotion for one client featuring a black book with advice on how to propose.

Copyright © 2001 by Bond Communications