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Richmond, Va.--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 Richmond, Virginia, Carreras Jewelers is celebrating its 50th anniversary this year.

Owner Rejena Carreras knows that investing in her staff is also investing in the health of her business.

“We have nine amazing employees who have all been educated by the GIA and the AGS. We have two graduate gemologist appraisers on staff, full time,” Carreras enthused.

She chatted with National Jeweler about the relationship between fine jewelry retail and e-commerce, and how her store harnesses the power of social media influencers.

20171030 Virginia1Carreras Jewelers in Richmond, Virginia boasts a 3,000- square-foot store front and has nine employees. Founded by Bill Carreras in 1967, his wife Rejena became the sole owner upon his passing. The store recently celebrated its 50th anniversary with a black-tie dinner.

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

Rejena Carreras: It’s online shopping.

It’s an issue, though I actually don’t think it’s the biggest problem. I don’t think many small stores get a lot of online sales; instead, it’s used for showing what we have, what we can offer.

I think our biggest challenge is getting the younger generation to enter the store because they’re so used to doing their shopping online.   

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

RC: Number one is loose diamonds, mostly estate diamonds. Our second highest is period estate jewelry.

We really don’t emphasize brands, we emphasize our own name. Peter Storm would be one of the names (outside of our own) we use most readily.  

NJ: Describe your regional customer.

RC: Educated and financially secure.

A large percentage of our customers are women who are celebrating life events such as birthdays, anniversaries, babies, promotions. They either purchase a special piece for themselves or leave it on their wish list for their gift giver.

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

RC: The halo continues. Kill me, kill me now. It’s always the halo.

Our second-best seller is the center diamond with two side stones, which could be diamonds, sapphires, rubies or whatever. Round diamonds seem to be the most dominant shape and white gold the most popular metal.

NJ: Which social media accounts are important to your stores?
20171030 Virginia2Rejena Carreras

RC: Jewelry is a very visual product. We rely heavily on Facebook and Instagram to showcase new items we put on the sales floor that day, to promote events and connect with our customers.

NJ: Do you have e-commerce?

RC: We do but we’ve found that our website is used more for browsing before the shopper comes into the store.

We have a professional photographer who comes in once a month to take pictures of our new jewelry so we can keep our website up-to-date.

It is not uncommon for someone to walk in with their phone and point to the picture on their phone of what they’d like to see from our website. We’ve found that people want to touch, see and try on the jewelry before making a purchase.

NJ: What’s the best piece of advice you’d offer to a fellow independent jeweler?

RC: Make a relationship with your client. Know what they like and let them know when something comes in. Give them a call and maintain that relationship.

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

RC: We have a networking event with style bloggers in our area.

Every few months, we invite this group of bloggers into our store so they can check out our new pieces, and we offer wine and food. One time we even had a photo booth, and the bloggers, in turn, end up doing a story on their visit and post their pictures on social media.

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