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The Real Thing
Buyer's Choice


What pieces of jewelry do retailers think present the best value to their customers? The answers range further than you might think, from beautifully crafted sterling items under $200 to such formidable stalwarts as Rolex. In between, pearls seem to be winning the hearts of many consumers. Value, it turns out, is less about price and more about perception.

"Customers aren't cookie cutter, so each of them perceives value differently. That's why we spend a lot of time trying to find out what it is that holds value for them," says Brian Alter of Alter's Gem Jewelry, Beaumont, Texas.

"You have to get down to what a customer is really looking for. Once you begin to narrow the possibilities, you can focus on what is valuable to them. A client recently asked to buy an internally flawless diamond. I told her she could spend a lot less money and buy a diamond that was visually flawless--nobody was going to be looking at her diamond with a loupe. It turns out that her reason for wanting one was because her mother and sister both had internally flawless diamonds. Knowing how valuable it was to her, I got what she requested."

 


KENT ZICKFIELD
Zickfield's Jewelry, Cape Girardeau, Missouri

THE BEST VALUE IN OUR STORE: "One item I think that is a best value is a string of freshwater pearls. We've been selling a lot of color and white strands. You can walk out with a nice looking necklace for under $200. Freshwater shapes are not so unusual anymore, and the selection of colors makes them attractive. Pearls have always been a staple, and people have felt safe buying them. We like Imperial for our higher line, and A&Z Pearls and Innovative Pearls for our other pearl lines."

HOW WE SELL IT: "We don't have to do any marketing with them. We put pearl strands in the front window with the pieces attached, and their good looks and value sell themselves."



GREGORY MENDELL
Kern Jewelers, Burlingame, California

THE BEST VALUE IN OUR STORE: "Our best value items are slam dunks: Patek Philippe and Rolex. Believe it or not, the easiest sales are for $100,000 or more. Inexpensive items have actually slowed down. The perceived value is there--our customers not only know the workmanship and materials involved, they also know that the pieces do not lose value and that they are heirlooms they can pass down. Patek's slogan, ‘You never really own a Patek Philippe, you merely take care of it for the next generation,' resonates with our clientele."

HOW WE SELL IT: "Our clients are well-traveled people and none of them has ever come back and said, ‘You made me pay too much' for something they bought. We never discount and we never have sales. Our main means of marketing is to send direct mail to our customer list and give them first chance at featured items. Keeping a customer is the best strategy."



VALERIE KING
King Jewelers, Cohasset, Massachusetts

THE BEST VALUE IN OUR STORE: "Diamonds and pearls are our two top sellers because people see them as holding their value. One advantage pearls have is there's not a lot of gold in them, and people are shying away from gold because they don't trust where its price is going. Another jewelry line which has had great appeal is ‘Precious Fortunes,' a line of sterling or gold fortune cookies from designer Sharon Loeff. The cookies open to expose a message, which buyers can personalize."

HOW WE SELL IT: "I'd say Precious Fortunes' appeal runs from ages 16 to 60. The larger pieces, which have a marquise-shaped fortune that hangs beside the cookie, go for about $200 retail. Given their looks and charm, customers see the cookies at that price as great values."

 


STEVEN GOLDFARB
Alvin Goldfarb Jeweler, Bellevue, Washington

THE BEST VALUE IN OUR STORE: "Rolex still works its magic. It's understandable why--it's a mechanical device, a known item that's straightforward in how it works. Diamonds are still mysterious. What's inside of them? You know what's inside a Rolex. There are a couple of other lines that our customers see as great values. Pianegonda sterling is very affordable, and people perceive silver as a precious metal. We also do well with Roberto Coin."

HOW WE SELL IT: "Rolexes are reassuring because only higher-end stores carry them, and they have a history of holding their value. Even when they've gotten a little wear, they're still valuable. Then add the heirloom aspect. You may not be driving your daddy's car, but you can certainly wear the Rolex he passed down to you. Roberto Coin is well known and helps retailers with nicely done advertising that creates consumer awareness. With price points that range from $200 to $20,000, customers see them as very affordable."

 


SHARON MIZELL
Masey's Jewelers, Summit, Mississippi

THE BEST VALUE IN OUR STORE: "We just got Zable from Italy with Murano glass charms. It's been selling really well. It has a great price and it's compatible with Pandora and Chamila. We also do well with Gabriel & Co. Some women even upgrade their ring because they love the styles so much."

HOW WE SELL IT: "We've had a lot of success with an incentive program from a travel agency. We buy a package or trips and can use them with customers. If you spend $2,000 or more, we'll offer a three day, two night trip to Las Vegas or a five day cruise. We find it enables the bride and groom to spend more because they've already got a honeymoon."

 


DONNIE THOMPSON
Lions Ltd. Fine Jewelry, Charlotte, North Carolina

THE BEST VALUE IN OUR STORE: "We still love David Yurman, who we've been selling for 15 years. People still perceive great value in his jewelry. He just keeps it coming, and he makes it look like you're getting more for your money than you were two years ago--that's a perception of value you can't beat. In the price point range from a few hundred dollars to $1,000, he tears that market up. One thing he does well is to entice people to see one piece and then want to look at the next. It's rare for us to sell one of his pieces without a customer wanting a second or third."

HOW WE SELL IT: "We emphasize that what we carry is great or classic designs that are affordable, such as Yurman and Mikimoto. But we also make sure to have a variety of offerings. In each case people see the value in the line."

 


DAVID ALEXANDER
Alexander's Jewelers, Texarkana, Texas

THE BEST VALUE IN OUR STORE: "People perceive great value in Rolex. They see the reasoning behind the watches' high prices and understand the quality of what they're buying, their value and prestige. That's why people often buy them to honor graduations or promotions. Other lines that are popular for good value are Charles Krypell and John Hardy."

HOW WE SELL IT: "Krypell's and Hardy's prices make them appealing to the self-purchaser. Buyers don't feel they have to wait a long time to save up to buy the pieces. Their large looks with beautiful stones really appeal to our customers and we're not shy abut showing them. Hardy gives us a boost with built-in name recognition."

 


STEVEN STURHAHN
Sturhahn Jewelers, Quincy, Illinois

THE BEST VALUE IN OUR STORE: "You can look at value as getting a lot for the money you pay or buying something that people think has intrinsic value. We've had success with several new sterling lines with stones, a substantial look for a good price. One standout has been Sarah's Hope, which features clear quartz that has been treated to create iridescent facets in colors. For intrinsic value, it's almost always diamonds. People see them as a good value because they are universally recognized as having value. They are gifts that come with great sentiment, tradition, history and prestige."

HOW WE SELL IT: "Clients also like that Sarah's Hope gives 10 percent of its profits to fund microloans in third-world countries. Although people here are more attuned to finding a good-looking piece rather than a brand name, we do well with Kirk Kara and Gottlieb & Sons."





"Tiny Treasure" diamond heart pendant in 18k white gold by ROBERTO COIN, suggested retail $400, (212) 486-4545, www.robertocoin.com.
Natural color freshwater pearl strand, 18 inches with 14k gold clasp, from IMPERIAL, suggested retail $420, (800) 556-7738, www.pearls.com.
New "Calatrava Officer" watch in 18k yellow gold by PATEK PHILIPPE, (212) 218-1240, www.patek.com.
Sterling silver "Precious Fortune" pendants on 18k gold chain, with dangling fortunes by SHARON LOEFF DESIGNS, suggested retail $200-$250, (480) 991-1412, www.sharonloeffdesigns.com.
"Primavera" bangles in 18k white, rose, and yellow gold by ROBERTO COIN, suggested retail $2,900 each, (212) 486-4545, www.robertocoin.com.
Zable beads and bracelets in sterling silver, Murano glass, crystals, birthstones, enamel, and vermeil by C.G. CREATIONS, suggested retail $13 to $36 for the beads and $49 for bracelet, (800) 431-1606, www.cgcreations.com.
Collectible charms in 18k gold and diamonds by DAVID YURMAN, all retail below $1,000, (212) 896-1550, www.davidyurman.com.
Sterling silver and 18k gold rings and necklace with cognac diamonds by CHARLES KRYPELL, (212) 752-3313, www.charleskrypell.com.
Pendant with "E'Sperene," a composite of quartz and metal oxides in rhodium-plated sterling silver from SARAH'S HOPE, suggested retail $260, (877) 888-8058, www.sarahshopejewelry.com.