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Gem Gossip Turns 10
Associate Editor Ashley Davis speaks with Danielle Miele about her decade of digital evolution and where she’s headed next.
Ask someone in the jewelry industry to name a bauble-centric blog and chances are the first name on their lips will be “Gem Gossip.”
Its creator, Danielle Miele, started her website well before it was an axiom that a blog could be a business, prior to the creation of Instagram and before the era of the smart phone.
This year marks Gem Gossip’s tenth anniversary, making Miele not just a veteran of the jewelry blog, but a veteran of blogging.
In the lightning fast world of digital content, the past decade has experienced about as much variability as the previous 50 years in print media, requiring an ever-evolving strategy.
On the occasion of the original jewelry blog reaching double digits, I was curious to hear Miele’s thoughts on blogging in 2008 and 2018, how the arena has changed and what’s kept her dedicated to the medium.
National Jeweler: What inspired you to start Gem Gossip?
Danielle Miele: It was July 2008. My parents, two sisters and I decided as a family to move to Nashville. We lived in the same small town and same house for the past 23 years in upstate New York and all needed a change.
I had just graduated from college with a degree in childhood education and finding a teaching job when the economy was struggling was proving to be difficult. Once we made the move, I had a lot of time on my hands because I was unemployed, had no car and didn’t know anyone in Tennessee. This led to me constantly browsing online for jewelry and reading about jewelry, my number one passion.
My boyfriend at the time was living in California and suggested I start a blog about jewelry since he was sick of me inundating him with a huge amount of daily emails with links to my favorite pieces of jewelry. I loved the idea, and that night I came up with the name Gem Gossip.
NJ: At what point did you feel you were on to something with Gem Gossip and experiencing some traction?
DM: I remember the day I posted my first blog post and hit “publish” like it was yesterday. The next day, I checked my stats and saw that my first post was viewed seven times (although now I’m pretty sure those were all from my mom). It’s
“Timing has always been pivotal for me, and being a few steps ahead is a big reason why I am where I am today.”It wasn’t until I created the “Show Me Your Rings” concept back in January 2010 when things really started to take off. I posted a blog with as many of photos as I could find on the Internet of hands stacked with lots of rings and could only come up with four. I called out to my readers to send me photos like that of their collections and said I would post them. This was back when Instagram hadn’t been invented, so people had to read my blog post and email me the pictures. The next morning I checked my email and was blown away—photos from all over the world showing me rings!
NJ: Ten years is an eternity in the digital space. What are the most impactful technological changes you’ve experienced?
DM: I like to tell people 10 years is ancient for a blog, as I truly was at the forefront of the concept of ordinary people deciding to write about whatever passion they wanted to discuss on a daily basis. Timing has always been pivotal for me and being a few steps ahead is a big reason why I am where I am today.
Instagram, hands-down, has been the most impactful change for me and my career. Again, I got on the Instagram train early, which no doubt is a big factor as to why I have so many followers. I started my account in April 2012; my first post was of some Easter flowers, and it was a time when no one really had an “aesthetic” or “brand” to promote. It was literally taking pictures with an iPhone 2 and posting these blurry images with some filters. Always filters.
Through hashtags and constant interaction with people that also posted about jewelry I was able to grow my community over the years of being on Instagram. The app has had lots of updates and changes since I first began, but I’ve always stuck with it and I think that speaks volumes.
NJ: What’s been your proudest accomplishment over the last decade?
DM: There are so many moments where I knew I was following the right path that was meant for me in this life, from being recognized or nominated for awards, to quitting my full-time appraising job where I worked for five years while blogging. But I would say my most proud moment was bringing my dad along for a buying trip and having him see me in action.
All throughout my life, I’ve always simply wanted to make my dad proud of me and a part of me was still hurting ever since I told him I didn’t want to be a teacher anymore. When you go to college and spend four-plus years on a career, plus a whole lot of money and then as soon as you graduate decide it’s not for you—that takes a toll.
I also don’t think he truly understood the concept of blogging. My dad loves what I do and in a way, it’s a total reflection of him and what he does buying and selling used cars. Just as he buys the “diamonds in the rough” at the car auctions and cleans them up in his own way, I do the same with antique jewelry. After all these years of him telling me to get a steady job with a salary and benefits, I ended up doing almost exactly what he does and it’s sort of funny. I know I make him proud, and that is all that matters to me.
NJ: What have been some of the biggest challenges over your blogging career?
DM: One of my biggest challenges occurred in the beginning of my career—trying to explain to people what I do and how I could benefit them and their jewelry business. I started going to jewelry shows early on in my career and no one knew what a blogger was. When I asked if I could take a photo of their jewelry, people would yell at me or shoo me away.
“I had to do a lot of legwork, stand my ground and be confident in the beginning in order to have the openness and welcoming we have today.”Today, it is much different. Bloggers are taken more seriously—though we still have more work to do in the jewelry industry—and many are paid to be at these shows where I was once scolded for taking photos. I had to do a lot of legwork, stand my ground and be confident in the beginning in order to have the openness and welcoming we have today.
NJ: The word “blogger” has given way to “influencer” over the past couple of years. What do you think is the best term to describe what you do?
DM: I’m not really sure myself! I like to call myself a blogger because that is what I’ve been since the day I started. I’ve just added other titles to what I do over the years, like gemologist after completing my graduate gemology degree from GIA and appraiser after professionally appraising jewelry for eight years. Above all else, I am a collector because I’ve been one since the day I was born, with possible hoarding tendencies!
I think the title of influencer is something someone else has to bestow upon you; you can’t just call yourself that. I do think it is one of those hot topic terms that will eventually run its course and phase out.
NJ: As someone who has blogged in the jewelry space for longer than anyone else that I’m of aware of, is there anyone you’ve been able to look up to as a role model or have you solely had to forge your own path?
DM: Growing up in such a small town really hindered what I believed I could do for a career in the jewelry industry. We had Kay Jewelers at our local mall and maybe two other jewelry stores that I knew of. I sadly thought the only job a female could do was be a sales associate and I didn’t like those stores and I’m terrible at sales, so I didn’t originally pursue anything in this industry.
“I want to be 75 years old posting a picture of my hand with a bunch of new antique finds on it, with a caption like ‘just bought these off my friend in our nursing home #showmeyourrings.’ That would be the ultimate legacy.”It wasn’t until I started reading magazines that I saw a whole new realm and InStyle was my favorite. That’s when I started to see Marion Fasel as a role model and really, someone who I admired and wanted to meet one day. This was back in 2006 to 2008. I read every jewelry column of Marion’s and tore it out to keep. After I started my blog and joined Twitter I remember tweeting at her a few times and when she responded to me, it was like I had just met Oprah. She and I have since become each other’s biggest cheerleaders and I love how all that came to be.
NJ: Have you dealt with blogging fatigue, and if so, how have you overcome it?
DM: Oh yes, all the time! I like to look at the root of where it is coming from and a lot of the time it is because I have too much on my plate at the moment, or I’ve been spending too much time on social media. Your brain can get in a rut if you’re constantly scrolling through Instagram aimlessly. Since Instagram is a big part of what I do and I can’t really be off of it, I often will post a photo and then put my phone away for several hours while being creative on a different level.
My favorite solution to blogging fatigue is driving--I love driving and I can come up with a lot of content ideas while driving through certain parts of Tennessee, especially if it is a gorgeous sunny day. It is my secret weapon.
NJ: Are there any mistakes you’ve made during the course of Gem Gossip that have been big learning moments for you?
DM: My biggest lessons learned mostly fit into one category, which is to be cautious of who you work with, collaborate with and befriend. I’ve been taken advantage of a few times, and it hurts. I’m always trying new things, so I could easily look back on something I tried and think of it as a mistake, when it was actually just a lesson learned. I tend to say no more than I say yes, which could be seen as a mistake but I don’t think being selective is a mistake.
“With the unpredictability of Instagram and their ever-changing algorithm … I think it is necessary to have something you can control and for me, that has always been my website.”NJ: How do you measure success with your brand?
DM: If I look back on the day I started my blog, everything that I am doing now still aligns with what I would have wanted from day one, and that is amazing to me. I’ve been adamant about only featuring solid gold, platinum and genuine gemstones since the beginning, and I’ve never faltered. If I wouldn't wear it, I don’t feature it!
If this concept is being satisfied on a daily basis, my followers are happy, I’m getting lots of feedback with engaging comments and people regard my blog as a premiere website to go to for all things sparkly, then that is all the success I could wish for.
I want to be 75 years old posting a picture of my hand with a bunch of new antique finds on it, with a caption like “just bought these off my friend in our nursing home #showmeyourrings.” That would be the ultimate legacy.
NJ: What’s next in the digital space and where are you putting your focus today in terms of both content and social media?
DM: We are always searching for the next big thing, the latest app to jump on. For example, everyone was opening an account on Vero recently, but it was a huge flop.
I’m setting my sights on a brand new website, which I’ve been working on with a design company based in L.A. since last September. With the unpredictability of Instagram and their ever-changing algorithm where posts aren’t being shown to all followers, I think it is necessary to have something you can control and for me, that has always been my website.
I’m hoping to continue my most popular projects, like Jewelry Road Trip and Jewels at my Doorstep, by offering styled photography for hire to jewelry designers and stores. I’m also hoping to continue to expand my antique jewelry inventory which I sell on my separate account @shopGemGossip.
NJ: Do you have any current digital frustrations?
DM: I would say with Instagram being so off-the-cusp and wild, those who have no regard for being authentic really frustrate me, like people who buy followers and likes, or those who get paid to post content but don’t disclose that they have been paid. It makes it murky for those who do abide by rules, and it is the worst when you get put into the same category.
The same goes for stealing content, like a photo being reposted without credit, and stealing content ideas. Hopefully Instagram will work on those issues rather than changing their algorithm constantly.
NJ: What are your goals for Gem Gossip in the future?
DM: The possibilities are endless, and I always seem to go with my gut on what direction I want to go to next.
Gem Gossip has really evolved into its own brand and I hope to expand on that in the future. There aren’t too many people one thinks of when you ask, "Who is iconic and known for their jewelry style?" Maybe Elizabeth Taylor, Joan Rivers, Liberace or Mr. T. are the first to come to mind. There’s not too many young people among that list, and I want people to think of me when asked that question. So I guess my goal is to be more widely known, not just by people in the jewelry industry or people who like jewelry.
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