Monday, January 28, 2013

Tanzanite Dream

Double milgrain surrounding the beautiful round tanzanite; Celtic knots and wheat patterning down the shank.  Lovely all over.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Protecting the Family Jewels - Jewelry Care, Part I

Oh, my. The jewelry repairs we get. The bent-over prong accompanied by, "But I wasn't doing ANYTHING!"

So, let's get something straight right off the bat here. Metal, even precious metal (which is partially precious because of its ability to be worked into various shapes by humans), does not BEND without provocation. The wind does NOT blow over your prongs. Rings do not contort out of shape without a force being applied to them.

Bear this in mind: with the exception of a few advances that have made the various processes involved in jewelry-making more perfect, the materials used have not changed. As such, you cannot take a delicate, lacy, filigree ring (much like those worn 100 years ago), and expose them to 21st century tortures such as weightlifting, housework, heavy pulling or pushing, equestrian adventures, crossfit, and expect good results. Please realize that a lot of the fine jewelry you wear today was of a caliber that only women of means wore 100 years ago. Women of means didn't garden, do their own cooking, do paperwork, or even raise their own children.

They also didn't need to get their jewelry repaired.

So, here are the most basic of basics for keeping your jewelry safe and sound:

In general, jewelry should not be worn while:

• sleeping; because fingers can swell during the night, making rings impossible to remove for bathing or other activities in the morning; because prongs on rings can snag on blankets, thus loosening their grip on stones; because necklaces and bracelets become strained, stressed, kinked and broken when subjected to tossing, turning, and body weight.
• swimming; because chlorine is one of very few chemicals which actually reacts with gold, and eats it away—swimming pools, hot tubs, and jacuzzis have very high chlorine contents, which actually wears away your precious metal (that’s why jewelry looks so clean when you get out of the pool—you really wore away some of the metal, thus hiding scratches!); and because water makes rings fit looser, leading to a possible loss.
• bathing; because long-term exposure to low levels of chlorine is as bad as short-term exposure to high levels; and because soap, shampoo, and conditioner do nothing nice for the appearance of gemstones or textured metal.
• doing housework or yard work; because you can expose your pieces to every possible negative force: chlorine (from household cleaners), abrasives which can scratch metals and gems (from other household cleaners), violent vibrations which can gradually loosen stones (from vacuum cleaner or lawnmower), heavy lifting which can bend rings and loosen stones, and complete destruction (a tumble through a garbage disposal or vacuum cleaner).
• working out; because lifting weights (either free or on machines) can lead to bending rings, possible stone loss, the kinking of neckchains, and the breaking of bracelets; because other athletic activities can cause swelling of the fingers, thus making rings dangerous to wear; and because sports can make necklaces, bracelets, and rings instruments of pain for yourself or others.
• using hand-held tools; because of damage to your rings (either through denting, poking, or scratching) or to your fingers or hands.
• lifting heavy items; because of damage to your rings by denting or distorting, and possibly loosening stones; and because of possible damage to your fingers or hands.

More to come.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

cruise giveaway QR

just seeing what happens...

Sunday, April 10, 2011

an unlikely promotion

No matter what you think, not *everyone* knows about your business. I mean, at all. As in: they don’t even know your business exists.

That’s right—all that advertising you do, all the philanthropic efforts you make, all the networking in which you engage—and a lot of people in your town either don’t know who you are or what you do.

So, when an opportunity crossed my desk to have a booth for a day in the vestibule of the Bozeman Costco, I went for it. Every year, the Bozeman Costco raises funds for a children’s charity by selling booth space in their vestibule. For a small fee (slightly higher on the weekends), I have about 60 square feet I can call my own for the day, complete with three tables, a chair, and a much-appreciated heat dish for my tootsies.

In this space, one can sell items if they so choose, or one can do as I did, and just promote one’s business. Actually, I promoted a specific service by business offers: custom design. This is a service Costco does not offer, and it’s a service at which Alara Jewelry excels.

Regardless, people tend to be surprised that we do it at all, much less that it is a cornerstone of our business. Since nearly every woman has a little box or drawer of “don’t wear anymore” jewelry made of precious materials, my signage revolved around that, specifically.

Typical conversation at my booth: “You know, I have rings from my mother, my grandmother, and my husband’s mother. Can you do something with those?” Yes, ma’am!

Yes, there are plenty of shoppers with complete tunnel-vision that failed to see me, despite the vividly-colored, 16-square-foot poster and matching, vivid linens…but then there were all the people I thought didn’t see anything, but yet they stopped on their way out to ask about it. I would say, based on the number of business cards and promotional information I handed out (and the normal attrition rate thereof), that I have about 5 custom design appointments in my future. Add to that all the people that just simply smiled at me and said “hello,” and the nearly 8000 eyeballs that saw my logo, and I would say that this is one local business that was happy to bootstrap off the heavy foot traffic at Costco.

The people who walked through Costco yesterday are not only my neighbors and friends, but also visitors from pretty far away who don’t have a jeweler in their hometown that does custom jewelry design.

Happy camper.

Monday, April 4, 2011

my smart show experience

Two days ago, I “earned my keep” at the Smart Show in Chicago as a compensated speaker. The Smart Show is a national jewelry industry trade show with a heavy focus on education for retailers and designers. As such, it was certainly my honor to be asked to share whatever nuggets might benefit my colleagues.

I could not have been more flattered by the standing room only crowd, the thoughtful questions, and the enthusiastic audience members who approached me immediately after and also throughout the show.

Curtis Bennett of the legendary O.C. Tanner store in Salt Lake City, was particularly complimentary, and I assumed he had no idea exactly how far out of my league he is. He assured me that it’s really all the same: the big store that did the $25 million renovation of a historic building in order to make it a gift to the city of Salt Lake and the little store on the corner in Bozeman.

But, he’s right. We’re definitely in that same business, despite those differences. Our shared business goal is to make people happy as they seek out beautiful tokens to celebrate life’s amazing milestones and “just because” occasions, as well as creating tomorrow’s heirlooms and re-work ones from days past. It’s a wonderful business because of that. I imagine we get to know our customers on a much more intimate level than say, the average shoe seller does.

So I know it is out of that caring that a gentleman from Missouri approached me while I was on the exhibit floor, asking if I had suggestions for a new designer line to bring into his store. It was only because he knows his customers and wants to make them happy that he carefully described to me the demographic make-up of his area. To be asked to assist someone in their efforts to assist their clients is a very high compliment—-one I definitely don’t take lightly.

It’s nice to know that there’s a community of engineers in Missouri who will soon have a new collection of jewelry to appreciate at their local jewelry store, and a whole passel of women there who will suddenly find themselves bedecked in new jewels their men actually enjoyed selecting.

Saturday, June 26, 2010

cool store competition 2010

We received the issue today!

First of all, thank you for all the congratulatory emails and Facebook posts.

Here's the link to the Alara Jewelry spread in the August 2010 issue of InStore Magazine.

And here's the link to the entire "Cool Store" palette of the top 10.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

cool store recap 2010