One thing to come out of the quarantine? Jewelry artists are learning to substitute live interactions with virtual ones. Instead of explaining their handmade jewelry processes one-on-one, makers have found ways to demonstrate them remotely.
ABOVE: Carmen McNeil of Chroma Rocks modeling her jewelry; photo courtesy Carmen McNeil
A custom design you might have worked out in person is more likely to happen via video chat. Many artists tell me they’ve been spending time — and all that money saved by not selling handmade jewelry at shows — adding demos to their websites and social media marketing.
“In many ways, posting demos online is the culmination of who I’ve become in the last 20 to 25 years as both an educator and a maker,” says Jim Dailing, jewelry artist and instructor in Bend, Oregon.
When he put up his first website 20 years ago, Jim started to focus on what sets him apart. “There are a million options for people to purchase jewelry,” he says. “How can I differentiate myself? One aspect of that is trust.”
“I’m always trying to highlight who I am and what I’m capable of, but also to gain trust and create a personalized connection,” Jim says. “That’s partly why I started posting more process-oriented images rather than just photographs of completed pieces.”
Jim posts process shots and video demonstrations on Facebook, Instagram and LinkedIn, as well as his own website. He teaches handmade jewelry workshops nationwide, including from his own Bend, OR, studio.
Share the Craft
Gary Roe has two assistants helping him in his Maine studio but keeps a bench open next to him for visiting jewelry artists. “If somebody wants to visit my studio and ask questions, I’ve done that a million times. I don’t get paid. If you’re working on a piece of your own and you’re stuck, you can make an appointment and sit next to me. I’ll help you work on it.”
That is a generous offer given Gary is probably one of the most skilled goldsmiths in the U.S. He’s frequently tapped by museums to restore historic jewels by famous makers like Lalique and Castellani. He also creates Revival-style jewels of his own and shares process shots and video on social media.
“I’ve always had an interest in taking photographs of the jewelry-making process,” he says. “Instagram and Facebook are places where I can post these things. It gets information out there for people who want it.” Follow him on Instagram to watch the process behind his own handmade jewelry creations as well as his restorations of antique treasures.
Train Your Customers
“Being a teacher can increase your brand awareness,” said jewelry artist Carmen McNeil during her “Teaching and Selling” presentation in Halstead’s recent Jewelry Business Forum.
“You establish yourself as a thought leader in your field when you provide information to people,” Carmen says. “You get them used to coming to you as a resource. If you’re a custom jeweler and you’re putting out information about different types of metals and stones, people become more comfortable with you.
“You end up training people to be your customers,” she said. “If they get something out of their interaction with you, they will want to support you, buy from you more, recommend you to their friends.