By Michelle Graff
michelle.graff@nationaljeweler.com

I had the opportunity recently to chat with newly inducted California Jewelers Association (CJA) President James Orloff about a cool new initiative the CJA has launched to help get recession-flogged California consumers interested in fine jewelry again.

TheCaratDiet.com, which National Jeweler briefly mentioned here, is a consumer-facing Web site that features the best of celebrities and their red-carpet jewelry styles, trend tips, a diamond-buying guide and, best of all for retailers, a store locator.

Consumers can hop on site and covet a cool flower Amrapali ring sported by actress Emily Blunt or Rose McGowan's M.C.L by Matthew Campbell Laurenza earrings. They get the shopping bug and then plug in their ZIP code to find the jeweler nearest them. Inclusion on the site is free to all CJA member jewelers; it's part of what they pay for when they write their dues checks.

"The association needed to find a way to stimulate business in California," said Orloff, owner of Orloff Jewelers in Fresno, Calif. "The CaratDiet keeps jewelry in front of the public: 'This is what Angelina Jolie's wearing. This is what Jennifer Aniston's wearing.'"

"People identify with celebrities. They look at them because they're in the public. And they could get away with saying, 'I have something like hers.'"

While it's still early in the site's life--it only went up in October--Orloff said they've already had feedback from jewelers indicating that it's generating business. The number of hits on TheCaratDiet.com also has risen steadily, from just 50 in its launch month, to 1,200 in December to more than 2,800 in January.

It's a great Web site, not just in the concept but also in the execution. Orloff said the CJA brought on a Los Angeles-based marketing and communications agency MC Squared to design, launch and maintain the site, which they do with input from CJA leadership.

I think TheCaratDiet.com is also a great example of how state jewelry associations can help out their retailers, even in the post-Jewelers of America (JA) partnership world.


In June 2009, JA announced that the economic downturn was forcing it to "redefine" its relationship with the state jewelry associations. Historically, retailers paid one flat fee for membership to both JA and their state associations. Since the redefinition, they've had to either choose one or make the decision to shell out dues for both, a change that had smaller associations with already-shrinking memberships rolls worried about losing more people.

Orloff indeed admits that CJA's membership took somewhat of a hit when JA altered its structure, as the big chains, Zale, Kay/Jared, etc., chose JA. The launch of this site, however, wasn't prompted by the shift. "That's really not what it's about. For the jewelers in California, the business two years ago was starting to fade," Orloff said. "The CJA in itself is trying to perpetuate the value of the retail jeweler. This is for the California consumer."





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Since 1906, National Jeweler has been the must-read news source for smart jewelry professionals--jewelry retailers, designers, buyers, manufacturers, and suppliers. From market analysis to emerging jewelry trends, we cover the important industry topics vital to the everyday success of jewelry professionals worldwide. National Jeweler delivers the most urgent jewelry news necessary for running your day-to-day jewelry business here, and via our daily e-newsletter, website and other specialty publications, such as "The State of the Majors." National Jeweler is published by Jewelers of America, the leading nonprofit jewelry association in the United States.