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Marketing custom jewelry


#1

I keep reading in the trade press that ‘traditional’ jewelry stores
should get on the custom design bandwagon because case sales are
almost dead. Then I look around and see some of these bandwagoneers
are doing what might be more properly called menu picking, yet they
bill it as custom design. You know,"'pick a stone, pick a mounting,
tada! your custom design is ready in 2 days".

There are more and more of these all the time. Pretty soon the
public might accept that ‘custom design’ is like a Chinese menu, one
from column A, one from column B, with 2 you get egg roll.

So I think it behooves those of us who do truly custom work to start
sounding off about the differences. The features and benefits. Lest
we get swallowed in a sea of mediocrity.

Like one thing I take issue with(and this is just me)… an original
line is not custom, even if they’ll put a sapphire where a ruby is
now. To me, custom is from the ground up, taking all the customer’s
and designer’s concerns, ideas etc into consideration. The customer
doesn’t design it, they just set the parameters, the
designer/goldsmith does the hard part. Which is to make it
work…exceedingly well.

Of course it’d be good to phrase the message in a non dissing way.
Overt knocking can be unseemly and maybe counterproductive.

So, my fellow customizers, what do you say to folks about why your
custom work is worth paying for? How do you define your custom
vision?


#2

Hi Neil;

I wouldn’t worry about it. Here’s why. That menu type thing has been
around for a long time. That sales angle is used by two types of
stores. One is the lone jeweler who isn’t particularly trained or
experienced in real custom work. The other is the mall store vying
for a market they can’t serve very well in the first place. Neither
of these folks are going to be able to take it very far. People who
want real custom work aren’t going to be fooled. Just keep doing what
you’re doing. People who enjoy a real experience in having a custom
made jewelry article are going to talk about it and that’s the best
advertising you can get. Try something like this. If you’ve got a web
site, document a custom job or two on your site. Pictures of the
sketches, the waxes or a couple shots of fabrication at different
stages, then a good shot of the finished article. On your main menu,
have an item such as “the custom jewelry experience”. I have a
couple animated.gif images that I made up years ago that morph from a
sketch to a finished article. The drawing evolves into a finished
piece in a few seconds, the effect is pretty dramatic. You might even
get someone with a camcorder to make a short video of the entire
process and put just one of those up on your site.

David L. Huffman


#3

I think there should be a line between custom-design/custom-made and
customized. Customized would be, indeed, putting a sapphire where a
ruby should go. However, custom made would be something made from
scratch, starting with an original design either drawn by the
customer or the designer. Unfortunately, I, personally do not
consider customized (as in “pick a setting, pick a stone”) as
custom-made, especially as the settings are widely available and mass
cast.


#4
Like one thing I take issue with(and this is just me)... an
original line is not custom, even if they'll put a sapphire where a
ruby is now. To me, custom is from the ground up, 

Neil, you bring up a problem that I have been on both sides of. For
many years I clearly stated that my work was available “as is” and
that I wasn’t interested in doing custom work. Some customers thought
that ment I wouldn’t substitute stones or if they saw a design in
silver that I wouldn’t make it in gold. Now I do lots of custom work
from the ground up, but as you say, many so called custom jewelers
are just offering a selection of choices that are pretty much
pre-engineered, as the building contactors would say.

Of course it'd be good to phrase the message in a non dissing way.
Overt knocking can be unseemly and maybe counterproductive. 

True, especially if you are friendly with your local compition, as I
try to be.

So, my fellow customizers, what do you say to folks about why your
custom work is worth paying for? How do you define your custom
vision?

I think the best way is by example. On your website or in a photo
album you have on your counter you can show examples of how a piece
progressed from a sketch to a finished piece. In ad copy you can say
that your design possibilities go beyond just combining choices from
the menue and that you can work with them from concept to fulfilled
vision. Examples help convince people you really mean it.

Stephen Walker


#5

My advice to folks who want to do custom is to develop a style that
is so distinctive that it really stands out against pre manufactured
mountings. My sweetie Tim designs pieces that are attractive, very
wearable and pretty. Even un-jewelry educated folks can see the
difference at a glance. His work has a certain “look”. We stress our
years of experience,engineering know how, and knowledge of what will
wear well over time.

We take our time to do things right and charge accordingly. We never
apologize for our prices. When you can buy a “custom” ring and have
it ready in a day or two as a rush job, it looses it’s specialness.

Tim listens to the customers desires and then does a quick but very
good counter sketch. I cannot stress hard enough how important it is
to be able to draw. Tim usually does only one, maybe two designs. Not
too many choices to confuse the client.

He gently takes the lead.

He never gives too many options. Just what he thinks is right. We
don’t show waxes either. Tim just says, “Let me make something really
nice for you.” We also just assume that our customers are intelligent
and savvy consumers and treat them as such.

Have fun and make lots of jewelry.

Jo Haemer
www.timothywgreen.com


#6

Well, back atcha, Neil…I have made only one of a kind custom
pieces until now, involving the customer from the ground up, as you
say. I am about to launch a line of jewelry that will be cast and
finished for me, but I will set different stones (birthstones, etc.)
per the customers’ desires. What do I call it instead of saying, I
can make a ‘custom’ piece just for you?

I respect your opinion, this is not meant to be argumentative. I
would really like to know the politically correct way to market
this.

Thanks,
Kelley


#7
but I will set different stones (birthstones, etc.) per the
customers' desires. What do I call it instead of saying, I can make
a 'custom' piece just for you? 

You could call it personalized or customized.

Elaine
http://www.CreativeTextureTools.com


#8

What if you said “I’ll be happy to personalize it for you with your
choice of a stone etc.”

K.


#9

Kelly, what about calling it your “Signature Line” personalized with
your favorite gemstone??