The Biggest Stories of the Year So Far

EditorsAug 05, 2016

The Biggest Stories of the Year So Far

Editor-in-Chief Michelle Graff on the site’s most-read stories of 2016 and what they say about the state of the jewelry industry.

Clockwise from top left: Peter Smith’s column on the future of retail leads NationalJeweler.com in page views so far this year, while stories about violet diamonds, stone-swapping allegations and family heirlooms also have been popular.

Earlier this week, Senior Editor Brecken Branstrator had a little truth time here on the 10X Blog, confessing that she is sick of reading about millennials, and rightfully so.

I feel it’s only fair that I do the same.

So, here’s my truth time: I am absolutely obsessed with our website’s analytics. How are the numbers? What are people reading? Where are they coming from?

Given my affinity for analyzing, I was filled with an almost-unmatched sense of glee when the year reached its halfway point and I could ask for the analytics on National Jeweler readership so far this year.

Here are the few of the stories our readers liked best, and my thoughts about what their popularity says about the state of the industry.

What Will Become of Retail Jewelry Stores?
This April 12 article by contributor Peter Smith almost put me out of a job because, honestly, what else can be said?

In what remains the most-read article on the site this year, Smith very candidly assessed the challenges facing retailers. Many stores look outdated, cases are overstuffed and jewelry stores are unable to formulate a clear message that communicates to consumers why they should shop with them instead of online.

The on-the-ground realities of what Smith wrote were laid bare for me a few weeks after we published his article.

I took a road trip to Roosevelt Field Mall on Long Island with an industry friend. Our mission: to see the Blue Nile showroom, which opened in June 2015.

While we were there, we popped into a few of the stores that sold jewelry and watches, which, just in case you are interested, number more than 20. In a single mall.

After strolling the mall’s super-white halls for several hours, my friend and I agreed that the most inviting stores were the Blue Nile showroom and Alex + Ani.

Alex + Ani was the epitome of a store that, as Smith put it, has a “focused story … that will resonate with consumers.”

The brand is all about “positive energy” and the store was a clear reflection of that mantra. It was well-lit, the merchandise was very organized and everybody working there seemed genuinely happy and were being helpful to customers.

There was even a cute little basket that contained rocks with ancient symbols on them called runes. Shoppers were instructed to think of a situation they need guidance on, then pick a rock from the

bowl to “receive a message from the universe.” A bit hokey? Yes. But also on point with the brand and something that made being inside that store a little bit more fun.

Does writing this mean I don’t understand the difference between what Alex + Ani sells and what’s in the showcase at a fine jewelry store? No. But it does mean that I understand the importance today of communicating what you’re all about to consumers.

Sad to say, the rest of the jewelry stores we visited didn’t really look that much different from the jewelry stores I remember seeing in the (decidedly-less-upscale) Beaver Valley Mall when I was a teenager. And that was 20-plus years ago now, which is also sad to say.

Nordstrom Flash-Sale Site Sued Over Vintage Rolex Sales
Signet Refutes Allegations of Systematic Diamond Swapping
It has not been a great year for shoring up consumer confidence in jewelers.

Among our most popular articles were a story on Nordstrom-owned flash-sale site HauteLook, which is being sued over the quality of the “authentic” vintage Rolex watches it sells, and Signet Jewelers’ reaction to the wide-spread allegations of systematic diamond swapping at its stores.

There also have been multiple stories on jewelers in New York’s Diamond District allegedly selling diamonds with undisclosed treatments and rubies with fake grading reports, and the case of the Ventura, Calif. jeweler who apparently had been switching customers’ diamonds with moissanite for years, sending a flood of confused and upset consumers into other local jewelry stores to get their stones checked. The jeweler accused of doing the swapping was arrested and charged with grand theft but, sadly, took his own life a short time later.

It’s completely understandable that thousands of National Jeweler readers clicked on both the Nordstrom and Signet stories. These are the types of stories that shake consumer confidence in jewelers and the products they sell, and it’s imperative to know when and if there’s a negative vein of public discourse.

They also serve as an important reminder: Know your suppliers. Be sure of what you are selling. Hire employees you can trust.

Also: Know what’s happening around you. If a jeweler in your area ends up as the lead story on the 5 o’clock news because of similar allegations, don’t be afraid to reach out to local consumers. Let them know you are an experienced jeweler who can be trusted, and that you are here and willing to help them.

They’ll be looking for some place to go for assurance. It might as well be your store.

Rio Tinto Unveils Impossibly Rare Violet Diamond
The Real Reason People Buy Jewelry
I thought it would be nice to end this blog on an upbeat note, with two of the more positive stories that landed in the top 20 for the first half of 2016.

The purple diamond Rio Tinto has as part its Argyle tender is an amazing stone, and I love that people get as excited as we do about truly exceptional gemstones. (The violet diamond is a huge fan favorite here at the National Jeweler offices.) They really are miracles of nature.

And, finally, there was the post on this very blog about the death of my 98-year-old grandmother, Helen, back in May.

It serves as a reminder of why so many people love jewelry--not because it’s a certain brand or comes with a grading report designating it a D-IF, but because it’s beautiful, it’s fun to wear and it can be passed down through generations.

I was happy to see that people enjoyed reading that blog post as much as I enjoyed writing it.
Michelle Graffis the editor-in-chief at National Jeweler, directing the publication’s coverage both online and in print.

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