Advice for Admirable Adornment Sales
Finding and Selling Jewelry

Jewelry sales glitter at boutique shops from cities to small towns. How to enhance sales, and the best way to source jewelry merchandise, were among the topics store owners and staff discussed with an SGN contributing writer for this article.

Necklaces by Bend, Ore., artist April Lucas of April 75 are available at Desperado’s. The store’s owner said social media and display make the difference when it comes to jewelry sales

At Crazy Neighbor in Boise, Idaho, Manager Cinda Robbins explained that in-store displays and social media both help the shop to sell more jewelry. “With social media, we’ve been doing Facebook and Instagram; it’s hard to tell what is working best. We also have an ad, and we are in a few local publications. As far as display goes, we have a table that is a mix of Bohemian-style jewelry, and another that is fancier jewelry. We also mix some pieces in with our displays. But what I’ve found is that customers like to know where to go for a particular item,” she said. “You don’t want to mix things up too much.”

Necklaces by Peyote Bird and Double D Ranch are available at Desperado’s. Keeping jewelry displays fresh can help increase sales, according to the store’s owner.

As far as choosing the best jewelry to stock, Robbins noted: “We try to keep things unique and original. I think that’s important to do today. We sell a ton of earrings, we really do. And we are always bringing in something different.” The shop sources its inventory primarily through long-time vendors, found from buying trips to jewelry shows. Robbins noted that the shop has also recently found a number of online companies that handle hundreds of brands wholesale, which keeps store prices reasonable and profitable. “We’ve been able to find quite a few things through that source, things that are very fresh and different, which is what we want. There have been some local vendors that come in to us as well. We really get our jewelry all over the place. Finding many different items is what works best for us.”

Earrings by Pacific Northwest silversmith Amy Leistiko are available at Desperado’s. The work of other local artists is also available at the store.

Heading south to Phoenix, Ariz., Lisa Swank, sales associate at Kiss Me Kate, speaking for owner Shannon Fox, said, “Displays and just plain word of mouth help us sell jewelry. People truly love the selection we have, and we display our jewelry with complete outfits, so people can see how the jewelry will look.” The shop carries primarily locally made and artisan jewelry, with necklaces among the top-sellers, she related. “We have beautiful pearl jewelry, natural stones including ivory, and we have Swarovski crystals. We source from artists and local resources because that is the type of jewelry that does well for the store.”

Employee Julie Knirk of Desperado’s models an outfit. The owner attends shows, rather than shopping online, to find jewelry to sell.

At Limited Additions in Tucson, Ariz., Manager Nancy Gutt also asserted that display in the store and social media posts both elevate jewelry sales. “We have a website, we use Instagram and Facebook, we post pictures on both. And in the store, we rely on displays. Primarily we cross merchandise. Some jewelry displays are separate however, and we keep small groupings on tables. We have jewelry on every end cap display and throughout the store on a baker’s rack, a shelving unit, you name it. We do very well with jewelry.” Jewelry sources come from attending shows, and from local artists who come into the store. “We have a huge gem show that comes in the end of January, and there are tons of vendors for us to go see there.” Going to the source in that way allows the store to find unusual earrings, necklaces, and one-of-a-kind pieces of all types. “We have fashion jewelry, we have high-end silver, and we have many handmade pieces, some from as far away as Germany. We carry artists who work in wood and metal and have turned their skills to jewelry. Finding unusual and distinctive jewelry is what interests us and our shoppers.”

Joanne Sunnarborg, owner of Desperado Boutique in Bend, Ore., said despite sizing concerns, there is a demand for one-of-a-kind, artisan-made rings.

Joanne Sunnarborg, owner of the 2,000-square-foot Desperado Boutique in Bend, Ore., said that for her store as well, social media and display make the difference when it comes to jewelry sales. “It’s also important to move things around and keep jewelry displays fresh. It’s hard to merchandise because of theft issues; you cannot put the more expensive items on the floor, we need to keep those pieces in a case.” In part because of the shop’s location in the Pacific Northwest, Native American sterling and silver jewelry does well for her store, as does a variety of jewelry designed by local artists. “I don’t buy jewelry online, it is too hard to tell what you’re getting. I go to shows, and overall, artisan-made pieces definitely sell the best for us.”

In the small oceanfront town of Cayucos, Calif., Angela Flores, owner of the 200-square-foot Hush Boutique, also describes her jewelry sales as “Social media driven and display driven. I have a very small space, but I do my best to cross-merchandise with outfits. I have an Instagram page, and pretty much the way I show it there is the way that I show it in the store.” She noted that rings and earrings both do well for her. “Finding the best jewelry to stock is really a combination of scouting out a lot of independent women who create and make their own jewelry, and I go to a lot of smaller shows and markets in different areas to highlight the artists who work so hard to create jewelry. I also love to carry companies that give back, that have a purpose behind what they are doing. Two of them are investing in women, and they make the jewelry in a safe environment and empower them to have skills, and also to overcome challenges from lack of opportunity, addiction, or just general poverty. So, I feel very strongly about finding companies like that,” she explained.

Desperado’s employees Rebecca Meade and Melissah Kochel. Native American sterling and silver jewelry does well for the store.

Employee Eliza Davis of Desperado’s. Artisan-made jewelry pieces sell well for the business.

Flores also owns Cayucos Pharmacy and Gifts, and carries jewelry there as well. “I love being able to share the jewelry I bring into the stores. It’s so awesome to feel and touch something and learn the story behind everything that I have here.” That story also helps her to sell the jewelry items: people are interested in supporting the stories she presents, making them viable for the store to carry in all ways.

All in all, jewelry sales are strong and customer interest in unique pieces drives merchandising as well as customer shopping at boutique stores in a wide variety of locations. 

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