By Hilary Danailova
Every jewelry store has its own way of showing off its wares. But most retailers agree: Sparkly, decorative pieces sell best in coordinated, uncluttered displays that spotlight particular brands and styles.
“Having too much in a display is not good,” opined Zia Sachedina, the owner and a designer at Savannah, Ga., boutique Zia. “And mixing collections I don’t think is good either. You don’t want to put strong brass jewelry next to delicate pieces.”
Like many jewelers, Sachedina groups items by color or collection. His own abstract, modern designs, in gold and silver set with natural stones, are inspired by organic motifs like waterfalls or rain drops. Sachedina also carries jewelry from 30 diverse artists from around the world.
To highlight the different styles, displays are set at varying heights. “It makes the cases intriguing and interesting to look at for the customer,” Sachedina explained. And an intrigued customer is more likely to buy.
“If you stick to one thing, it gets boring for the customer,” agreed Kate Stevens, the artisan-owner at Red Giraffe Designs in Columbus, Ohio.
In a small downtown space — less than 400 square feet — Stevens engages shoppers with organic, wood-hewn displays mounted at different levels. Necklaces hang from copper pipes, or from wall-mounted vintage boxes; rings and bracelets are in dishes or laid out on tiles.
With the most expensive item costing just $65, Red Giraffe doesn’t bother with locked cases. “Everything’s available to try on,” said Stevens, though she notes that pricier silver items are up by the register. The two-year-old boutique, which recently opened a second location, carries a mix of bold fashion jewelry and delicate, hand-stamped silver and bronze pieces.
Some stores, like Cara’s Boutique and Gifts in Westlake, Ohio, take advantage of vendor-manufactured display fixtures. Mary Climer, who owns the 4,000-square-foot shop, said she buys fixtures from the popular lines she carries, such as Brighton, Alex and Ani, and Pandora. But she also mixes up flat and bust form displays to increase visual interest. “You have to have some contrast,” Climer said.
Her strategy is to avoid a monotone look, while grouping displays according to brand and aesthetic. “If it’s an organic line, you want it to look a little more rustic,” she explained. “If it’s something that’s a higher finish, you want something a little more sleek.”
For Mary Kate Church, who owns Femme Boutique in Middletown, Del., lighting is the key to great display. “It sets off the jewelry and makes it sparkle,” said Church, who puts most items under LED lights in glass cases.
She also believes strongly in visible prices, so customers can shop according to budget without having awkward conversations. Some items are tagged or propped onto price blocks; pricing books for popular lines like Pandora are sitting on the counter.
Church describes display as a balance between accessibility — of both product and information — and security for valuable pieces. “You have to be smart about what people can and can’t handle,” she advised.
Grassroots, a boutique in Newark, Del., strikes that balance by hanging pricier necklaces from the ceiling on hooks attached to a board. “People can see and touch and feel them and see the price,” said Co-owner Joanna Staib. “But they’re high, so it’s obvious when you’re looking at them, which helps with theft.”
Staib uses more secure displays for items costing $25 and up — mostly semiprecious stones and silver, which go in locked spinners and cases. Fashion jewelry under $20, like the nose and belly rings that appeal to college students, is more accessible, Staib said.
But regardless of price point, Staib concurs with her colleagues that a great display is thoughtfully coordinated and free of visual clutter. “I don’t like chaos in the cases,” she said. “I like things to be very linear, not bunched up.”
Aside from aesthetics, Staib said there’s another advantage to grouping matching items: “You can actually upsell that way.”