By Ashley Davis
Lynne Halpern and Juli Bauman founded Tassels Jewelry in Atlanta in 1987. Twenty years later, their store is a regional mecca for trunk shows by top independent designers.
Atlanta--In 50 Jewelers/50 States, National Jeweler interviews one retailer in each of the 50 U.S. states to find out how they are meeting the challenges of the changing retail environment.

Atlanta, Georgia’s Tassels Jewelry prides itself on being a destination for designer jewelry not easily found in the region.

It was this designer void in the local marketplace that led owners Lynne Halpern and Juli Bauman, who previously owned a coupon business together, to start Tassels in the first place, in 1987.

“Atlanta needed a store like ours,” Halpern said. “There weren’t any cute, boutique-y jewelry stores in Atlanta so that’s why we decided to do it.”

Twenty years later, Halpern and Bauman’s partnership is stronger than ever. They spoke to National Jeweler about their rock-solid foundation and the trends their fashion-forward customers are embracing.

20170524 Georgia storeThis is the interior of Tassels Jewelry, located in Atlanta. Founded in 1987, the store is about 900 square feet and has nine employees.
National Jeweler: What’s the biggest challenge your store is facing?

Juli Bauman: Trends change so quickly. We’re not really facing challenges …

Lynne Halpern: One of our biggest challenges is to keep updating our website, to keep things on Instagram. I think all of that is probably our biggest challenge.

JB: And we don’t have tourists so that puts our store in a little bit of a different category because Atlanta is not a tourist city.

LH: So we have to count on people from Atlanta. We do have the St. Regis. A new St. Regis hotel opened here and we do all the jewelry there so that’s brought us some new business, some tourists and things.

NJ: What’s the top-selling category and brand at your store?

JB: Earrings. It’s really just edgy jewelry, the latest and greatest.

LH: For popular brands, we carry a lot of Italian jewelry. We also carry Lizabeth, she’s from Austin, Texas--we do great with her.

JB: And Dana Rebecca.

LH: We also carry Phillips House and Andrea Fohrman. Also we carry two very big Atlanta designers …

JB: L.A. Stein and S. Carter.

LH: They do really well for us.

NJ: Describe your regional customer.

LH: Lots of repeat business; that’s why we like to keep changing our designs.

JB: It’s really independent women who buy jewelry for themselves.

LH: One of the best things we have is a wish list, which we try to make every customer fill out, and then we get a lot of husbands in the store for Mother’s Day, Christmas, anniversaries and birthdays, and they shop from those wish lists. So we have a lot of men too. It’s really very diverse.

NJ: What bridal trends are you seeing? What’s the most popular style of engagement ring with your clientele?

LH: Well we’re seeing a lot of girls who don’t want diamonds. They’re doing beautiful wedding bands. For those who do want a diamond, we’re seeing lots of princess cuts, lots of emerald cuts.  

JB: A lot of halos.

LH: A lot of people still like the halos.

JB: Nothing’s changed with that.

LH: I wouldn’t say there’s anything fabulous, new and different with wedding jewelry. We do sell a lot of wedding earrings and that’s a really nice little niche for us. People don’t want long, crazy chandeliers but we sell a lot of beautiful little diamond earrings for weddings.

20170524 Georgia insertA display at Tassels JewelryNJ: What’s your social media presence like? What accounts do you have or actively use?

JB: Instagram and Facebook and we do a lot of e-mailing. We do all three; we are really strong in all three.

LH: We have a woman who does all of our social media. We have a huge e-mail list.

NJ: Does your website have e-commerce?

JB: No. We always think we’re going to do it, and maybe this coming year that will be one of the first things we do, but we haven’t done it so far. We feel like people really love to touch jewelry and feel it and try it on.

LH: Some of the jewelry stores that are similar to us in different cities--that we see at different trade shows--say that they get so many returns (from having e-commerce). You almost have to hire someone and dedicate them to the e-commerce. We get (inquiries) from our Instagram and we’ll send jewelry out to them but, overall, e-commerce just seems like a whole other beast.

NJ: What’s the best piece of advice you’d offer to other independent jewelry stores?

JB: Just dive in and have fun.

LH: And customer service is really number one. We really pride ourselves on that. We bend over backwards for people. When they’re spending a lot of money it’s a great thing to do. And we really try to get people what they want. If we have a great wish list and a guy comes in and (the woman he’s buying for) has four pairs of earrings on her list and he says he wants to buy her a necklace, then we try to steer him to what she wants.

I would say customer service is our number one thing.

NJ: What’s a fun fact about you we can share with our readers?

JB: We’re related!

LH: We met each other in high school.

JB: And we’re also relatives.

LH: My sister is married to Juli’s first cousin.

JB: So we’re pretty closely related, not by blood, and we’re like sisters and that’s it.

LH: We’ve never really had a cross word between us. Occasionally I can say, “Come on, we’re not going to do that.”

JB: It’s an easy relationship. You’ve really got to keep a sense of humor.

Get the Daily News >
National Jeweler

Fine Jewelry Industry News

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.