By Lenore Fedow
James Free Jewelers’ Cincinnati location. The jeweler’s two stores in Ohio now feature anti-microbial technology as part of its enhanced cleaning protocols amid COVID-19. (Image courtesy of James Free Jewelers’ Facebook page)
Cincinnati—As stores begin to reopen, retailers are going to new lengths to ensure customers their locations are a safe place to shop.

James Free Jewelers installed new anti-microbial technology in both of its Ohio stores to foster a safe, clean atmosphere.

“We needed people to feel comfortable,” said Michael Karaman, President of James Free Jewelers, in an interview with National Jeweler.

Developed by Extreme Microbial Technology (EMT), the air and surface purification technology is installed in the building’s heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) system.

20200616 James Free Jewelers InstallAn EMT employee installing the microbial technology system in James Free Jewelers’ store

The proprietary tech cleans via a two-step process, creating high energy clusters and hydrogen peroxide gas inside the HVAC system that then “seek out and attack” microbes in the store, according to a press release.

The system is continuously ionizing the hydrogen peroxide gas in the airspace, explained CEO Randall Mount in an interview with National Jeweler, so it’s always cleaning.

The chemical composition does not have an adverse effect on the jewelry, said Mount.

The system operates silently and leaves behind a clean, fresh scent.

EMT's tech reaches areas that may be missed by chemical cleaning solutions, destroying bacteria, viruses, mold, mildew, fungi and odor-causing contaminants, according to the press release.

“Even the best filters only affect the air flowing directly through the filter itself, which means many microbes are left untreated,” said Mount in the press release.

He added that filters can be expensive and may turn into a new source of contamination if they’re not changed as directed.

Karaman has been letting his customers know about the new sanitation procedure via email and the James Free Jewelers website.

“We have enough headache outside,” he said, adding that he wants his store to be as welcoming as possible for both his customers and his employees.

Since installing the system, Karaman said his employees have felt more comfortable coming to work and his business has seen an uptick in sales as well.

Even with the new system, he adds “we clean constantly, all day.”

“Selecting fine jewelry is a hands-on process,” said Dave Tellmann, director of marketing for James Free Jewelers, in a press release.

While each piece of jewelry is cleaned before and after a customer handles it, the new technology is an “added step” to making the shopping experience a comfortable one, said Tellmann.

The store has hand sanitizer stations and offers free masks to customers. It has also implemented “stringent” cleaning policies and uses gloves to process payments.

Curbside pick-up and contactless home delivery are also available.

The cost of installing the system depends on the cubic footage of the store, but runs between $5,000 to $10,000, said Mount.

James Free Jeweler’s 15,000 square foot location cost $10,000 while the 8,000 square foot location cost $6,000, said Karaman.

But the peace of mind it’s brought, Karaman said, is priceless.

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