By Michelle Graff

Lots of jewelers attended the National Jeweler Network Online Retailing Forum at the JA New York Show a couple of weeks ago, including me.

Although I was asked to make a few remarks on one of the panels, I learned as much about online retailing as anyone in the audience.

Top honchos from Idex Online, Gemfind, Fred Meyer and Yahoo, among others, brought the jewelry retailer up-to-date on the latest Web tools and "analytics" (their fancy word not mine) to market to their best customers. If jewelers decide not to take their advice, or advice from other industry experts, shame on them.

But I think there is one more step that needs to be taken to have a successful Web presence.

Since all jewelers (er, most), will be using the Internet as a kind of catalog, won't they all be showing the same designs and styles? Won't they also be buying their diamonds and genuine stones from the same wholesaler(s)? Seems like a recipe for price competition—exactly what they want to get away from.

Maybe the answer is differentiation—different styling. The jeweler's computer screen is a window on the vast and magnificent world of jewelry design. Sourcing product from overseas is also an option. Although it's a little more difficult, margins can be much higher. Retail jewelers can even design their own styles—exactly what their customers want.

Jan Brassem is a founder of Eclipse Global Consulting LLC, a firm that assists jewelry retailers who are expanding into foreign markets and/or sourcing globally. You can e-mail him at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

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