Greg Stopka and his wife Lee began JewelSmiths 18 years ago with a belief they could succeed by providing jewelry repair and restoration directly to consumers – with no inventory. Dean Stopka (right), Greg’s brother joined the couple 12 years ago to manage a second location in San Ramon , CA . This dynamic team and their staff have been very successful in selling “virtual” jewelry (computer-generated images of jewelry designs).

Their total sales between the two locations compare with or exceed the dollar volume of comparable stores which maintain large inventories. Here’s their plan for success.

Jewelsmiths success is fueled by CAD/CAM, Passion and Innovation

CAD/CAM, Passion and Innovation

Initial Customer Contact

Customers visiting JewelSmiths are there for a reason – to get their jewelry and watches serviced and repaired. JewelSmiths began 18 years ago as a jewelry repair and restoration company. Customers were delighted when their expertly repaired pieces were completed on time and gained confidence and trust in the store. As they became regular clients, they also discovered that the Stopkas had a gift for turning their irreparable pieces into new, beautifully designed jewelry. This manifested in a stream of customers bringing unwanted or outdated jewelry to the store seeking redesign and new jewelry.

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Sales of new pieces were an unexpected but welcome addition to Stopka’s endeavor. To facilitate these sales, Greg Stopka initially offered sketches and waxes of his design suggestions to customers. When he learned about Gemvision’s Digital Goldsmith software, he envisioned a more effective method of communicating his design ideas. He purchased the Gemvision package of Digital Goldsmith software, a camera system and applicable training 12 years ago and has never looked back.

Greg Stopka is working on a design for a customer using Gemvision’s Digital Goldsmith software. Customers view the work being completed on the counter monitor or on one of two TV projections located above Stopka.

Stopka marvels, “With Digital Goldsmith, sales of new jewelry increased 57 percent in the first year and have steadily increased since. We show our customers on-screen and in-scale what their piece of jewelry will look like. This technology allows us to easily print a picture of the item for the customer to take with them. I have even printed the jewelry design on transparency film and placed it over the customer’s finger so they can envision what it will be like when the piece is completed”.

Stopka states the benefits of using Digital Goldsmith have been invaluable and include:

  • The ability to quickly create unique jewelry items in front of customers using their gemstones.
  • Upon viewing images on Digital Goldsmith, customer communication and confidence is immediately established.
  • Customers take ownership of the designs as they offer input.
  • The pieces are dimensionally accurate giving customers a realistic view of what will be made for them.
  • Increased sales of new jewelry year after year—without the need to carry a finished jewelry inventory.
  • Profit margins for jewelry creations with Digital Goldsmith are higher than selling from inventory.
  • With no physical inventory there is a significant reduction in cost (purchase of inventory, insurance, display, storage and maintenance) and risk (shoplifting, robbery and unsold goods) for the business.
Dean Stopka, an experienced capable bench jeweler and store manager of the San Ramon location uses Digital Goldsmith to prepare design ideas for a customer. Dean learned to efficiently use Digital Goldsmith in one month.

As customers decide which design they prefer, a 50 % deposit is required for the manufacturing to begin.

Making the Sale

Over the years, Greg has developed a sales strategy for he and his staff that includes:

  1. Relating to a customer on an emotional level.
  2. Quickly displaying an image and presenting ideas–incorporating customer gemstones and metal colors in new design options.
  3. Involving the customer in a discussion that explains how a piece would look with their skin and color tones.
  4. Maintaining eye contact with the customer and proceeding with the “sales checklist”.
  5. Responding to customer expressions of interest in style and tastes by efficiently changing the design image or rearranging elements to suit.
  6. Establishing customer ownership by including their materials and input.
  7. Making the sale emotionally, seldom inquiring about the customer’s budget.
  8. Closing the sale. If the piece exceeds a perceived price the customer imagined, he offers to take less than the 50 percent down initially, but will not begin the manufacturing until the full deposit is made.
  9. Always showing personal enthusiasm for the design in development and responding positively and actively to customer suggestions.

Stopka shares, “The virtual sale is the hardest one to make. Being a great communicator, enthusiastic and incorporating all customer requests are key in the process”.

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In-Store Manufacturing and Delivery

Stopka invested in Gemvision’s Matrix 3D software and Revo 540 Model A mill when the package first became available 5 years ago. He primarily uses Digital Goldsmith for customer presentations and sales and occasionally uses Matrix with customers who request additional detail.

After the sale has been made, Stopka begins the manufacturing of the piece by laying it out in Matrix then uses the file to carve the wax on his Gemvision Revo 540 Model A mill. He also uses Matrix for jewelry images placed on the walls in his 2 stores and for images used in advertising. He says that laying the piece out in Matrix and having the mill cut the wax guarantees precision, manufacturing efficiency and greatly improves quality over hand-carving the wax from the Digital Goldsmith image.

The customer for this pendant brought in the two rings and requested design ideas for a pendant. Greg Stopka produced the one featured using Digital Goldsmith.
After the sale was made, he laid out the design in Gemvision’s Matrix 3D software. He prepared the design in Matrix for the purposes of milling the wax model on his Gemvision Revo 540 Mill.
This ring was originally designed for the customer using Digital Goldsmith. The customer loved the design and made a commitment. She then requested viewing the Matrix 3D rendering (as shown in this image) so she could further envision the finished product. After studying all the details and making a few changes, she had JewelSmiths make the piece.
The wax was carved using the stores Revo 540 Model A mill. According to Stopka, the mill produces the work of 2 to 3 wax workers.
The ring was cast using yellow and white gold and it included diamonds from the customer and new ones provided by the store.
As the customers arrived to pick up their new ring, Stopka brought up the working image of it in the Matrix software. They loved the ring, saying that it was just as they imagined.

Summary

The Stopka’s are believers in the use of technology. They have software that controls the take-in, pricing, tracking and delivery dates for all repair, reconstruction and custom orders. If a piece would be quicker to produce by hand, then it’s made by hand or partially by hand. In the end, Stopka states that Gemvision technology has increased production by 35 percent since incorporating it. He has made Digital Goldsmith better by incorporating over 5,000 images of jewelry for use in showing customers design ideas.
Stopka writes and prepares the stores advertisements. In all advertising media, he uses jewelry images that he’s designed and produced by using Matrix software. His goal is a consistent look for the stores’ advertising.
Stopka says that he has truly benefited from Gemvision’s products and jewelry industry insight. “With this technology, we can make anything – from bridal jewelry to class- or sports-oriented jewelry as featured in this image. We have grown from only offering services to a full design and manufacturing facility in the last 18 years and it wouldn’t have been possible without the use of this wonderful technology”.

Jonathan Harrison works at the San Ramon location. He is 22 and a quick study. His job includes selling, working with Digital Goldsmith, running the Revo 540 mill and performing minor watch and jewelry repairs. Harrison says, “This has been an interesting career opportunity made better by utilizing the stores technology. Our customers love what I can do for them with their gemstones”.

Greg Stopka has written a book entitled “Selling Pretty Pictures”. He is currently in the process of updating the content and it will soon be going into its second printing. It covers the strategies, methods and techniques for selling jewelry with no inventory.

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In addition to the book, Stopka is starting a new jewelry design service to retailers. Participating stores will pay a monthly membership fee and will receive a number of his designs rendered in Gemvision’s Matrix software and additional designs on a monthly basis. They will be prepared in a professional portfolio similar to the one he’s holding in this photo. Additional pages will be prepared so they are easily inserted.

The membership will also include marketing materials such as counter cards and Microsoft Powerpoint slide shows featuring the designs. He will also do designs on request for his member stores. Retailers will be granted the rights to manufacture the design or he will arrange to have the pieces made using the store’s materials.

This installment was sponsored by Gemvision Corporation. For information related to Gemvision products and services call 800-357-6272