Lessons From A Lifetime In The Jewelry Business

To mark the opening of her new Fortunoff Fine Jewelry boutique, New York retailer Esther Fortunoff has written what she regards as the definitive list of tips for holiday shoppers who have jewelry on their list.

GIFTS_Jewelry_120514A“Just because someone tells you a product is ‘popular’ or a ‘best-seller,’ doesn’t mean it’s the right one for you to buy,” said Fortunoff who has served on the board of the Jewelers of America (JA) and was named to National Jewelers Magazine’s Retailer Hall of Fame. “There are a lot of reasons other than merit for an item to become a best-seller.”

Fortunoff developed her own expertise in diamonds, gemstones, pearls and the production of unique designs during a long career
as an executive for her family’s iconic Fortunoff stores. She opened Fortunoff Fine Jewelry as an online retailer in 2010 and cut the ribbon on her new boutique in September. With this list, she hopes to share some insider knowledge from a lifetime in the jewelry business.

“Over several decades in this business, I’ve learned that regardless of where you shop for jewelry as a gift, there are some very simple tips that will make it easier,” she said. “And there are a few tips that apply only to the holiday season.”

GIFTS_Jewelry_120514BEsther Fortunoff’s 10 Tips for Buying the Right Holiday Gift:

1. Shop as early as possible. Jewelry purchases often require attentive help from a professional, which gets tougher as the crowds grow. You’ll also get a much better selection the earlier you shop.

2. Don’t buy the first thing you see. Believe it or not, many buyers are attracted to something because they bought it before.

GIFTS_Jewelry_120514C3. Focus on the recipient. Think about what type of clothes they wear everyday as well as what
they wear to dress up. Do they work with their hands? Do they work out regularly? How will your gift fit into their wardrobe and their lifestyle?

4. For women, think first about necklaces and larger pendants. These items are “one size fits all” and you don’t have to worry about buying something too small.

5. Don’t be swayed by Midnight Madness type sales. With jewelry, it’s vital to consider the item as well as the deal. The recipient will keep it forever and always think of you.

GIFTS_Jewelry_120514D6. Stay on plan during the chaos of holiday shopping. Write down the names of everyone on a real paper list and put a possible gift idea next to each. Determine your budget and stick to it. Whether shopping early or late in the season, allow yourself enough time to look around and complete the transactions so you don’t become frustrated. Never just run in and buy jewelry.

7. With pearls, look for luster; not size. Cultured pearls that
are slightly less than perfect in roundness or those with a small blemish may be the best value for the money spent. With diamond studs, look for a well-cut diamond before perfect clarity—your ears should twinkle, but no one is up close looking for flaws. With gold always buy at least 14 karat. Not everything colored gold is gold. Pieces may be gold plated, dipped or just a base metal with a gold color. The store salespeople should know the difference.

GIFTS_Jewelry_120514E8. Remember that all “designers” are not alike. Some actually design and handcraft their own items. Others sketch a concept to be made by others. Many big-name designers simply have an idea before others sketch it and have it mass produced. All are called designers—but not all have the same personal involvement in the product.

9. Whether shopping early or late in the season, try to find something special, but resist going out on a limb; gift buying is not the time to test an edgy vibe.

10. Look for something that will bring a smile. Something with a message often resonates.

Fortunoff believes that adhering to this simple advice will greatly increase the chances of buying the right gift; whether the purchaser is a pro jewelry shopper or a novice. However, she noted, “There is an 11th tip that is just as important as the other 10. Always make sure the item can be returned by the recipient, just in case.” For more info, visit www.fortunoffjewelry.com.

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