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Website Question

Dear Orchidians:

I am starting to sell my work here in Canada and am wondering how
effective a website for jewellery will be for me. For all of you who
sell through websites, could you please give me an indication as to
how much of your total sales come from your websites. How many of
these buyers are first time buyers and how many represent repeat
purchases, having bought something from you through another source
such as a show. I’m still very skeptical as to whether the internet
can really show the beauty amd quality of jewellery.

Any would be greatly appreciated!

Catrina in Toronto

We have been talking about selling jewelry in addition to the stones
we sell to jewelery designers ( In doing
some research we have developed the following thoughts.

When we market to jewelry designers, we advertise in Lapidary Journal
and we list ourselves with search engines under jasper,
agate, etc. We have had comfortable success with designers finding us

  • mostly because they are looking and there are not that many
    companies selling what we sell on the Internet.

As we investigated jewelry, you are suddenly in a different marketing
game. Enter jewelry as a search word and you get thousands of
responses. How to attract consumers to your site?

One way is to specialize - what is special about your jewelry? The
assumption is that there are people out there who will think to
qualify a search enough to find something specific. The other
possibility (that actually works well on the Internet in some cases)
is just to throw a site out there and assume that, over time, enough
people will stumble across it. Not a bad deal if you have other
avenues of income while you wait.

Probably the soundest plan is to think of the Internet as a catalog
that you send people to. When you talk to someone at a show or in a
store that doesn’t buy, what are the chances that, the next week when
they are getting ready to go out, that they remember the piece they
passed up? What if they could easily look at your card, jump on the
web, and buy the piece then? In other words, the web as a piece of a
broader marketing plan, is probably a reasonable approach.

Lee LeFavire

Dear Catrina,

A jewelry website is very much like a brick and mortar store or a show
booth. When you open a physical store or show booth, you must take
many things into consideration in order to be successful, some of
which aRe: location, ambiance, product, customer service, cash flow,
etc., etc. When you open a website these factors are just as
important and controlling them will be the basis for your success.

It is relatively easy to control all but location (placement by search
engines). Your “location” will be far more difficult and require time
to accomplish. You can hire someone to do this for you, but the cost
of good website design, maintenance and especially search engine
optimization doesn’t come cheap. Paying for poor quality is like
forking out bucks for any other poor service - usually less than
rewarding. The alternative to hiring a website designer and search
engine optimization expert is to do it yourself, but that will require
a significant commitment, just as a store or show booth requires.
This commitment will include learning: website design, search engine
optimization, digital imaging and graphics, copy writing and then,
after learning it, staying current - 'cause the web changes constantly
and what works today, won’t tomorrow.

Before trying to decide if you are going to pay for these services or
do it yourself, you should decide what the focus of your website is
and then plan accordingly.

If all you want is a website where local customers or previous show
buyers can preview your latest work and then contact you about sales
or visit you at your store or show, placement in the search engines
won’t be that important, but your overall site design will be and
keeping the site updated with your latest work and descriptive copy
will be all important to the site’s success.

If, on the other hand, you want to sell from the web and use it as a
resource to acquire new customers that you would never reach from a
physical store or show booth, then that is whole different ball game.
The truth is that it will require either enormous personal commitment
to site design, search engine optimization, maintenance etc., etc.
etc. or the dollars to pay for having it done.

There are literally hundreds of thousands of jewelry related websites
(google has over 3.7 million in their database). Some of these,
especially the commercial sites, cost a ton of bucks to put up and
maintain and the individual success or failure can change almost
daily. I know this didn’t answer your question directly, but you should
take all this into consideration before deciding whether to put up a
site. I consider my site successful, but I put a lot of time into it
which does take away from bench time. Also, I used to be a program
designer and analyst, before becoming a full time maker of jewelry,
and I missed that form of creative outlet so it wasn’t as much of an
imposition for me as it might be for others. I also find I am doing
more and more custom work from the web which was not something I
planned, or enjoy, as much as just “doin’ my thing”. Sometimes I do
get a chuckle though like a couple weeks ago when someone wanted a
"unique and original ring design in 18k with a .5 VS1 diamond and
black onyx" and - he wanted this for $600.

One more thing, when I put my first site up (3+ years ago) it was a
just a matter of learning HTML, doing some image editing, making it
user friendly and pumping it full of keywords, then submitting it to
every search engine I could find. That’s changed in just the last six
months and now it costs to get a new site listed by most of the major
search engines - anywhere from $20 per page at Inkotomi to $199+ for a
review (without even a guaranteed listing) by most of the major
engines. While their robots will probably eventually find your site
and may still list it, a high ranking placement will become more and
more difficult to achieve without “Pay for Play”. I foresee a time in
the near future when I will have to pay to just to keep the listings I
have or fall into the abyss of the lower 3.7 million sites where no
one will ever find me.

Now, all that said, I believe very strongly that the web will continue
to grow and become more and more a place where people go to make their
everyday purchases as well as artwork and luxury items. It will,
however, continue to evolve in unforeseen ways (it’s still in just an
embryonic state, not even infancy yet) and will continue to take more
and more commitment/effort/knowledge/resources/$$'s to open and then
maintain a successful presence on the web. It isn’t just a matter of
throwing some decent images on a page and opening the website “door”.

Bernardine Fine Art Jewelry

Orchid Notice:
{ Y. A. K. }
Please contact the author off list!

Hi All,

After my long “dissertation” yesterday, now here’s another. I
wondered if there are enough of us on the list (current or potential
owners of jewelry/gemstone websites) who would like to share ideas, do
critiques/reviews, and generally share web knowledge as it applies
specifically to jewelry/gemstone sites.

I don’t know if Hanuman (or others on the list who don’t have web
sites) wants to muck up the list with posts that have little meaning
for what I think are probably the vast number of jewelers here.
Personally, I like having any jewelry related all in one
place and, of course, that is Orchid! But that may not be generally
appreciated by the non website owners here. :>)

Although there are numerous lists across the web that share ideas
about web design, offer to do critiques, explore search engine
matters, etc. none of these (that I’m aware of) specialize in
jewelry/gemstone or even “shopping” type sites. Also, learning which
of these lists is really worthwhile and not just some spam site
looking to gather email addresses is another problem in itself.

Given the amount of time I spend keeping current (hours and hours and
hours :(, I thought how nice it would be if there was a place where
others, just as intent as I about jewelry/gemstone sites, could share
their knowledge about current impacts or trends (not jewelry style -
web trends) effecting jewelry sites, perhaps lessening the time we
each each spend on this activity. I have been very fortunate in
being able to share a lot of this with another Orchidian
who has a site. Without her insight and reviews I would have made
many, many more missteps than I did, both now and especially when I
first put up a site.

If we were to keep these type posts on Orchid, perhaps a standard
subject line would be helpful so those not interested could either
ignore the post or filter them out. If Hanuman and the majority
prefer not to be bothered, perhaps an eGroup (oops, now eYahoo or
something like that). Just wondering … I’d appreciate comments,
off-line or on, for now.

And, if this is just “one too many” posts already about websites, I
apologize in advance. :slight_smile:


Nancy Bernardine-Widmer
Bernardine Fine Art Jewelry