By Ashley Davis
You won’t find pushy salespeople at Bella Fine Jewelry and Art, and that’s one of the things that sets it apart from its many local competitors.
Santa Fe, N.M.--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.

In Santa Fe, Bella Fine Jewelry and Art specializes in custom design with a Native American, southwestern aesthetic to please its tourist customers.

Owner Chris Garcia and his three partners founded the store in 2010 after working in the jewelry industry for “nearly 30 years,” Garcia said.

The dwindling number of annual tourists to the small art city has proved a challenge for Garcia, but he sets his business apart by foregoing pushy salespeople and embracing a more genuine style of customer service.

20170829 NewMexico
National Jeweler: What’s the biggest challenge your store is facing?

Chris Garcia: We’re in a city that’s mostly driven by tourism. In the 1990s, we used to get four million tourists a year. In the 2000s, those numbers went down to just a little over a million, and right now I think we’re currently projected to only get 700,000 tourists through here a year.

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

CG: It varies from month to month. We do a lot of custom work. Our custom work is probably about 25 to 30 percent (of our total sales). With other items it varies. One month we’re selling a lot of platinum, then it’s yellow gold. We also have a lot of silver, Native American jewelry being that we’re in New Mexico.

A lot of times we’ll just design pieces for customers using their own gems or redoing the pieces they have. We do quite a bit of bridal, but it’s not the majority of our custom work.

NJ: What’s your top-selling brand?

CG: We used to carry branded lines when we first started, but every year our own manufacturing has grown. We probably have about five different artists that we still carry. I think the only brands we have right now are Tissot watches and Chamilia charm bracelets, and then the rest are individual artists.

One of our jewelers who makes, on average, five new pieces a week is actually our top-selling designer. His work is sold under our store brand.

NJ: Describe your customer for me.

CG: My average customer is in their mid-40s through early 60s, mostly women. Probably only 20 to 25 percent are local, and the rest are tourists.

NJ: What’s the most popular style of engagement ring with your clientele now?

CG: It depends on the couple. If they’re a younger couple, generally white gold and platinum.

Then we also do a lot of custom, kind of local Southwest style rings with turquoise and opal.

NJ: Which social media accounts are important to your business?

CG: Instagram and Facebook. Older clients use Facebook more than our younger clients.

NJ: Does Santa Fe have a little bit of an older demographic?

CG: Yes it does. The tourists who spend money are from an older demographic as well.

NJ: Do you have e-commerce?

CG: No. We did before, and we noticed that a lot of our custom designs that we had originally made were popping up in other places, so our website right now is very basic and generic.

There’s probably a good 25 to 30 other jewelers in town, so we’re keeping our work off our site.

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

CG: The thing that keeps our customers coming back time and time again is our service. Whether it’s repairs or just remembering them when they walk in, remembering what they’ve purchased, their anniversaries, birthdays, special occasions.

There are a lot of high-pressure salespeople in town, and we’re not one of those places. We let people come in and take their time, and if there’s an interest we gladly take the pieces out and explain everything to them.

A lot of places in town, as soon as you walk in, they bombard you.

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

CG: Probably my experience. My uncle had a jewelry store here in Santa Fe, and I’ve basically been in the industry since I was about 12.

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