Why specialize in estate jewelry?
“Right now we’re going through a trillion dollar jewelry transition from baby boomers to millennials and Gen Z. There is so much jewelry out there and they don’t know what to do with it,” says Lily Mullen. , fourth generation owner of Springer’s Jewelers in New England. “Having a real estate business is a customer service opportunity. But also, as the price of gold goes up, it’s a great way to get things at a lower cost. It is a margin opportunity. And there is definitely an audience for estate jewelry. It is to attract a new type of clientele.
Should it be displayed in a separate showcase?
Lee Krombholz, whose boutique has been selling antique jewelry since its inception nearly 80 years ago, often mixes modern and antique jewelry in cases to display a certain type of jewelry, like ruby or aquamarine rings. “We’re a little weird in the way we market,” he says. But he recommends that if you’re just starting out, it’s best to create a separate estate case to draw attention to it and add props and display pieces to signal that it’s a case of succession.
What’s the best way to display it in the storefront?
Avoid clutter in the cases. When selling inventory of antiques and vintage items, arranging display cases is especially important to create a stylish and less overwhelming shopping experience. Show less, but make sure what you show is what you want to be seen. Anne Russell, vice president of Hamilton Jewelers, focused on visual merchandising when creating H1912, a niche store specializing in vintage looks. “Vintage jewelry can very quickly look like a lot of STUFF, instead of a collection of beautiful vintage jewelry,” says Russell. Thus, they display by period and make sure that they are not over-merchandising so that the focus can be put on each individual piece.
What customer objections might arise?
The consensus among young people was that vintage or antique jewelry was “grandma’s old stuff” and was irrelevant, says Julie Walton Garland, who grew up in the business of Walton’s Antique and Estate Jewelry in Franklin, TN. But now this stuff is cool. “It’s important to let people know that well-made pieces are super wearable and can be worn every day with the right care. Another misconception is that it will be too expensive. “It’s not always the case either,” she says. “Sometimes they’ll pay more for new designer jewelry.
Is it a good investment for customers?
Garland steers clients who want to invest into the stock market or real estate and away from jewelry, unless it is very rare. “You can have it for generations, and yes it will eventually keep its value, but in terms of investing it’s a word I don’t like.”
What are the selling points?
“The pieces are unique, so you wouldn’t walk down the street and see something similar,” Garland says. “And there is the story behind them. For most of our pieces, we don’t have the individual stories. But we can inform customers of the period and, if it is stamped, where it came from. Some customers are interested because they think vintage and antique jewelry is environmentally friendly. “You are not making something brand new. You reuse and recycle something that is already made.
What else do you need to know?
Because storytelling is essential to selling antique and real estate jewelry, Krombholz advises beginners to learn all they can about each period so that they can place jewelry in historical context. “You want to be able to tell the story of how something was made and how it was worn and what kind of clothes they would have worn, how they relate to fashion. It’s a whole different conversation than traditional jewelry sales.
Do antique dealers stock other types of jewelry?
While 90% of Walton’s inventory predates the 1940s, they also sell new wedding rings, as old wedding rings are harder to find and often not what modern buyers envision. Another new inventory in Walton’s mix includes classics such as diamond pendants and earrings. Krombholz sells a mix of antiques, second-hand, and in-house jewelry, as well as unbranded jewelry from vendors. At any given time, about half of its inventory in the event is used.
Are antiques and e-commerce a good combination?
When Garland started working with his father, second-generation owner Mike Walton, in the family business, he was sympathetic to his ideas to expand their omnichannel options, which is one of the reasons Garland believes that they are still successful today. “We didn’t have a lot of an online presence, but I’m super A-type and organized, so when I suggested it he was like, ‘Do your thing. “” The online presence and sales have made such a dramatic difference that Walton has had to double its workforce to cope with the additional business.
Is it a good idea to buy on consignment?
Rick Nichols of Nassau Jewelry in Fernandina Beach, Florida buys half of his real estate inventory on consignment. “You can also, at any time, offer to buy the customer’s jewelry and resell it for a higher profit.” For consignment sales, he pays the customer 60 percent of the sale price and keeps 40 percent. He offers to size, itemize and package the merchandise, then calls customers to let them know their items have sold. All sales are final, officially, but occasionally when someone insists on a return, they offer them an exchange. They then resell the item of the estate and the profit goes back to the store.
State your terms when buying on consignment, says Tim Wright of Simply Unique Jewelry Designs in Yorktown, Virginia. Wright does a 60/40 or 50/50 split with no contract and no set time limit. The item must be intact and portable, and it will refurbish the part as a minimum and guarantee it for the first year. “We’re looking for the unusual or the different,” he says. “We don’t resell jewelry in chain stores, mainly because we can’t support them and it doesn’t look different enough. “
Krombholz stored jewelry on consignment but found it too complicated. He now buys jewelry from his customers. About half of what he buys goes into the case and the other half is either broken down into pieces and melted down or reused, like when a brooch is converted into a ring or pendant.
What do jewelers look for when they buy OTC?
“All items should be in fair to excellent condition including strong chains, decent ring shanks, good teeth, and stones free from excessive chips and abrasions,” Nichols said. “It’s also very important to add only parts that match your store or parts that you think are potential sellers. “
How to approach customers who sell jewelry?
It helps sharpen your empathetic nature if you are purchasing over-the-counter estate jewelry. “You will be dealing with a lot of people who are grieving or strapped for money; being nice doesn’t mean you have to overpay for items, but it doesn’t cost you anything and can help a lot, ”says James Doggett, owner of Doggett Jewelry in Kingston, New Hampshire.
How do exchanges work?
“One of the benefits for customers is that if someone sells something to us, we offer more in the trade than paying for it directly,” says Krombholz. “They get more for what they have and can buy something else.”
What not to do?
Don’t get too attached. Edwin Mens of EL Mens Jewelers in Brainerd, MN, says it’s important to realize that not all estate jewelry will sell in the storefront, so jewelers should purchase the vast majority of items at prices that take into account the possibility that they will need to dispose of them. “Pigs get slaughtered, pigs get fat,” which means don’t try to buy too cheaply and hold onto your scrap for too long trying to get the absolute top price. Make your profit and move on.