December 6, 1999
A trade shop in Portland, OR, has gone on-line to reach retail jewelers interested in showing new custom designs to their customers. Associate Jewelers which specializes in wholesale design, production and restoration of fine jewelry not only uses the site as a showcase, but as a communications tool encouraging retailers to approach Associate for design ideas.
You'll have to write or call the company to get a user ID and password before entering certain areas of the site, such as Jewelry Gallery and Search Diamonds. The Jewelry Gallery is set up to serve jewelers but also consumers, with whom retailers can search the site to find a design their customers like. A Favorites List for consumers allows them to add favorite pieces to a list, then e-mail the list to their personal jewelers or as hints to friends. The jewelry listings don't include prices; Associate Jewelers encourages you to write for more information.
Associate Jewelers' president Kim Klementis says jewelers have been using the Web site to find ideas for creating rings to accompany customers' gemstones. "We had one customer who scanned a custom-shaped tanzanite stone and e-mailed it to us," says Klementis. "In this case, we inserted it into some designs and e-mailed back the ideas. But we could have created any design we or the retailer's customer had wanted."
The company says its diamond database features more than 10,000 diamonds. The database is searchable by shape, color, clarity and carat, and turns up all the technical information about a diamond, but there aren't pictures. You can buy the diamonds using a secure server ordering system, though it wasn't working when Professional Jeweler reviewed the site.
There's also a well-designed "virtual tour" of Associate Jewelers, explaining the company's services and craftsmanship. Klementis says he hopes to increase the company's commitment to e-commerce in the future and is looking into video conferencing to better communicate with retailers and their clients.
- by Stacey King