By Jacqueline Stone
Recently I was named a design consultant for JCK Tucson and JCK Las Vegas Design Center, a role in which I help close the widening gap between designers and retailers. Easy right? So I thought. Here both retailers and designers have a liaison at their disposal to help them build rapport with fresh faces, book appointments before the shows, and provide guidance and support. Why wouldn’t anyone take advantage of this awesome new resource? I thought it was great! But it quickly opened my eyes to why our industry is hurting: first impressions.

Jacqueline Stone is the chief creative officer of her company, Salt Stone, working primarily with private clients to build custom engagement rings and wedding bands. Our industry is in trouble, but no one personally wants to take any responsibility. It’s the price of gold, the economy or the president who is to blame for making sales soft this year in both retail and wholesale for the first time since the late ‘90s. But when is the last time you asked yourself: Are you part of the problem or the solution? What are you doing to contribute to building community? When is the last time you went out of your way to help an industry peer or an emerging designer? How are you going the extra mile for your clients? And most importantly: What does your first impression really look like?

My new consulting gig came as a bit of a surprise to me, if I’m being honest. There are many more “industry powerhouses” that came before me, but one thing I do have in droves is an infectious positive energy. I’m a big believer in the metaphysical, not only with my rocks, but with my thoughts.  As the famous Mike Dooley from Tut says: “Thoughts become things.” 

For those who know me personally, my passion for my craft and my love for my clan is not just a gimmick, and I’m quickly greeted with a warm hug. But for those I’m just getting to know, I’ve found our industry overall to be a huge turnoff. If you are being this rude to me, I can only imagine how your customer must feel. How long does it take to write a simple one-sentence email providing some small acknowledgment? A simple “We’re not interested, but thank you,” is polite, concise and takes the writer less than 30 seconds to execute.

Given all these glorious doors that have been opening for me lately, I do want to take a moment to acknowledge those who have surpassed my greatest expectations in kindness, professionalism and thoughtfulness.  

My first shout-out goes to the marvelous Sarah Graham. I started jewelry classes more than 10 years ago and she’s been one of my idols all this time. Her work is phenomenal and so is her spirit. She will be honoring me and the JCK tribe with her presence and words of wisdom at our Tucson show in February for a fireside chat (details to follow.) What struck me the most about this icon is her friendly demeanor, her genuine passion for the craft and the industry at large, and her inherent desire to give back and inspire others. I once was a fan; now you can consider me a groupie.

Other jewelers who have won my heart are the fabulous Melissa Joy Manning and Pamela Love. Melissa, who is swamped as she just opened a new shop in my neighborhood, not only replied to my email directly, but invited me to come visit her for a hug and a hello. Pamela, a CDFA award-winner who probably gets more emails in an hour than I do a day, took time out to thank me for my kind words and wished me well on my efforts. 

If you tell yourself, “I don’t have time to get back to everyone,” well I have news for you: You’re doing it wrong. Customer service should be the number one priority of everyone in this business, and people talk. All this money we pour into marketing and advertising? There still is nothing more powerful than word-of-mouth. 

These two jewelry greats inspired me to grab a call with my business coach Dixie Dynamite this week to talk about scaling. How do I copy their model and ensure all my inquiries are met in a timely and friendly manner? Their decorum is one I wish to emulate.

New designers to the scene who also have been friendly--and whom I have no doubt will go far--are WWake, Shimmel and Madden, Workhorse, Doryn Wallach and Melissa Spencer. All these hot new brands to land on the jewelry scene have remained humble and teachable. It’s how I hope to stay as well, as I’m a big believer in Einstein’s theory: “A true genius admits he knows nothing.”  

These new designers took the time out of their hectic days to talk to me more about their show strategies, design philosophies and their concerns for industry at large. I was able to relay many of their helpful suggestions back to the JCK clan, which were taken extremely seriously. (As a side note, their call for much-needed publicity was received and heard. A new JCK Events Blog rolls out in early November, but I can’t let any of the exciting details out of the bag quite yet.)

Hopefully this article doesn’t fall on deaf ears. It may offend or rub some the wrong way, but I’ve often found that that the things that anger me the most give me the most opportunity to grow.  

I encourage us all to get out of our own way, myself included, and try to remain focused on the bigger picture.  

By offering a hand, lending an ear or going the extra mile to help someone get to that next step, you aren’t just helping your brand grow, but you’re helping our jewelry tribe as a whole. Remember that next time you shoot off a note or return a call; you’ve only got one shot to make that first impact on a new audience. 

I know moving forward I’ll be much more conscientious because as we all know, I have a few things to learn myself. 

Jacqueline Stone has a background in finance, marketing, advertising, product development, fine jewelry manufacturing, design and sourcing. She currently is the chief creative officer of her company, Salt + Stone, working primarily with private clients to build custom engagement rings and wedding bands. Stone can be reached at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

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