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Woodbridge, VA—“What happened?”

The Centurion asked prestige jeweler Jenny Caro of Jewelry by Design if the rumors we heard that she and her husband, John, had somehow doubled their business during the recession were true. If so, it was a topic well worth investigating to find out how. It turned out the rumors were true, and Caro shared some of the secrets of success that resulted in doubling the store’s business over the last three years.

As to what happened, gold happened, answered Caro simply. “Without it, a whole lot of us might have been out of business.”  Of course, that wasn’t all that happened, although it was a big part of it. “The little twist that made a big difference was that we weren’t greedy. We encouraged people to trade in rather than cashing out [their gold/jewelry]; in those cases, we paid almost what we get from the refiner. We didn’t look at it as a money generating proposition.”

Caro is competitive when buying gold and jewelry for cash, but offers trade-in customers a much better deal, making them pause and think twice before going for the cash. She looks at the entire transaction as a way to increase traffic and, hopefully, sales.

If a customer brings in something that was just taking up space in a drawer somewhere, Caro suggests, “Let’s look around first,” and then the customer decides which way to go. For these customers, often female, it’s much more lucrative to trade in, and many do. “There is enough of a difference between the two [selling gold/jewelry for cash vs. applying it to a purchase] that a woman would have to think twice before giving up the trade dollars. That is the secret!” she said.

Female self-purchasers make up the bulk of Caro’s customers, which may be one reason her sales have taken off due to buying old jewelry. “Men might spend less [during a recession],” says Caro. “But the women still want their little treats when they can have them.” Caro’s gold for inventory policy has certainly helped her female self-customers leave Jewelry by Design happy.

There’s another upside to trading gold for inventory, rather than buying it for cash – no holds, no reports. Some states, including Caro’s, require a holding period as well as filings to the police before jewelry bought from individuals can be resold or sent to the refiner. Caro’s policies legally avoid both these requirements.

Click here to watch Jewelry By Design’s commercial for gold buying.

More than just buying gold. Besides buying gold, Caro did a few other things that made a difference in her bottom line. She changed her product mix, and, ultimately, her store, her business and her profits. She did away with some higher priced bridal lines; she brought in more bridal prototypes and brought in silver in a big way. She added the Pandora line and she now sells lots of estate jewelry.

“We now have six cases of pre-owned jewelry,” says Caro. (The store had one before the change.) “That probably helped during the recession. When new pieces are bought, our employees go through them like it’s a treasure hunt, cherry picking the best pieces for the estate case and for their special clients.”

She also changed her product mix in colored stones to appeal to her upscale female self-purchasers. “Take amethyst,” said Caro. Jewelry by Design had only carried gold and amethyst in previous years. Now they offer amethyst and silver together, displayed in the same case as the amethyst and gold, side-by-side. It’s a product mix that works for her and her customers, one more change that helped Caro stay afloat – and profitable – over the last few years.

Last month, the jeweler participated in a local black tie philanthropic event, donating a diamond to be raffled off in a champagne glass.

Recently, the jeweler also made news when she and John won three pieces of Elizabeth Taylor’s jewelry at the record-setting December auction at Christie’s in New York. With a budget of $30,000, Caro secured a coral branch necklace, a pair of diamond chandelier earrings, and, no joke, a set of paper cut-outs of jewelry. Watch a video of Jenny discussing the collection here.

“When things change out in the world, you have to change,” said Caro. “My husband and I don’t mind changing; I think that’s the biggest lesson for staying in business – if you can change, you can make it.”



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Comments (1):

this is some great ideas.

By jerry cronier on Apr 5th, 2012 at 7:25pm

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