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How to Host a Jewelry Show

Let the jewelry speak for itself.
Let the jewelry speak for itself.
iStockphoto/Thinkstock

Whether you make jewelry or not, holding a jewelry show can be a fun and entertaining way to have a party or generate buzz for your business. Themed gatherings encourage conversation and enthusiastic participation. The presence of a jewelry craftsperson who's a talented storyteller and can answer questions in a lively, fun way is almost as effective as hiring a professional entertainer to keep a party running smoothly. Having all that shiny, wonderful jewelry on display doesn't hurt either.

The difference between holding a themed gathering like a jewelry show and just having a get-together is that there are definite rewards for hosting a themed party that may translate to free hostess gifts, depending on how profitable the show turns out to be. You're probably familiar with the concept from lingerie shows and cooking equipment parties you've attended. If you have a wide circle of friends with similar interests in fashion, makeup and jewelry, it can be an enjoyable way to spend an evening. It's also a good way to make sure the benefits flow your way if you've attended some of your friend's shows in the past and want to be the big winner this time around.

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Actually, hosting a jewelry show isn't as intimidating as it looks. There are a number of ways to approach it, though:

  • You may be hosting a show to promote your own jewelry designs or those of a friend.
  • You may be hosting an in-home show for a professional jewelry retailer who specializes in marketing through informal parties.
  • You may be hosting a small jewelry trunk show in your retail space. This can be an effective marketing gambit for boutiques, nail salons and hair salons.

For this to work, you'll have to make sure the people you include on your guest list are interested in jewelry, or that your business customers are likely to be open to the idea of looking at jewelry while they shop. (If you own a pool supply outlet, this could be a stretch.)

You'll also need a plan. If you've ever seen a craft table loaded down with earrings, bracelets and necklaces, you know how many small items there are to deal with. This is one instance where preparation and presentation make a big difference. Costume jewelry is often an impulse purchase, and niceties like good lighting and beautiful packaging can transform mild interest into an eagerness to buy. Making low pressure suggestions using small signs, and encouraging combined purchases by grouping items like earrings with coordinated necklaces are also ways preplanning can pay off.

On the next page, let's take a look at some other handy ideas that will make your first -- or next -- jewelry show a big success.

When you hold a jewelry show, you want everything to go smoothly, and the best way to accomplish that is to anticipate the rough spots and find ways around them. Here's an example: If the show is being held in an out-of-the-way location, provide a map with the invitation, put signs in the front yard and make sure there's plenty of parking nearby. It's easy for these types of details to get lost in the shuffle. Here are some other preplanning strategies that are worth some thought:

  • Send invitations well in advance. Ten days to two weeks in advance isn't too soon.
  • Arrange for door prizes or giveaways. This should be negotiated with the sponsors ahead of time. It will help make the show more appealing.
  • If you won't have the option of allowing participants to pay via credit card, make sure to spell that out on the invitations so guests will have the opportunity to bring plenty of cash or their checkbooks.
  • Plan to have adequate stock on hand. Even if you don't display multiples of each item, having plenty of stock available will keep special orders to a minimum.
  • Know your market. If your friends love jewelry but are likely to be working on a tight budget, keep the offerings in line with what you think your friends will be able to afford. It will save embarrassment and ensure there'll be something for everyone who wants to buy.

No one ever perished for want of jewelry, so creating a buying atmosphere is important when putting together a jewelry show. In large part, this is accomplished three ways: making the jewelry look wonderful, creating urgency and providing hassle-free purchasing.

  • Pick a good time for a show -- Certain times of year lend themselves well to jewelry shows, including a few weeks before Valentine's Day, teen and tween graduations, and the Christmas (and Hanukkah and Kwanzaa) holidays.
  • Be bold -- You don't lose anything by asking friends and acquaintances to attend your jewelry show, and the event is more likely to be profitable if you can assemble a large group. To do that, you'll need to have the space of course, but you'll also need to get out there and invite, invite, invite. For some people, this can be intimidating. If you have misgivings, look at it this way: People feel better when they look nice, and buying jewelry in a fun and mutually supportive atmosphere is by far the most appealing way to shop. You aren't asking for donations; you're hosting a fun afternoon or evening in your home -- complete with live entertainment. And hey, it never hurts to ask.
  • Keep the munchies modest -- Like a good cocktail party, a jewelry party is about moving and mingling. To make sure your guests aren't spending their time balancing plates on their knees, keep the food and drink ample but easy to sip and nibble without mishaps. If you're worried that your favorite single serving quiche appetizers might be too much, they probably are.
  • Lose the pets and small children -- Jewelry shows are adult indulgences, and pets, young children and snickering teens could put a damper on the proceedings. This is girly stuff -- and it should be unapologetically indulgent -- so keep the distractions to a minimum.
  • Make it sensuous -- Adding soft music, fresh flowers, silky pillows and chocolate (or designer cupcake goodie bags) to your jewelry show has some merit. It gets all the senses involved and could make that sparkly charm bracelet irresistible.

Keep like items together to maximize your sales.
Keep like items together to maximize your sales.
Hemera/Thinkstock

If you're performing the hostess honors for a jewelry party, it's easy to think of it as a shopping spree in the making. The only trouble is that to qualify for a nice gift or other reward, your guests will have to buy a specific dollar amount. For that to happen, the jewelry items will need to look enticing. If you're working with a professional in-home jewelry marketing organization, a lot of the details have already been taken care of, but that doesn't mean your participation is limited to showing up:

  • Clean house -- Well, this seems like a no-brainer, but we thought we'd make sure you know that no one is going to be sending a maid service in to do the honors. Remember, the event will reflect back on the jewelry designer (maybe you) and the location (definitely you).
  • Rearrange the furniture -- Having one or two tables filled with jewelry items is bound to create a bottle neck. To keep guest traffic flowing smoothly, rearrange your furniture to open up a wide corridor around the displays, buffet table and any other areas you expect people to congregate.
  • Keep the jewelry front and center -- You may think your illuminated étagère should get some attention, but you'll sell more jewelry if you make the baubles the stars of the show.
  • Provide plenty of seating -- Having 10 or 20 people in your home will definitely stretch the seating capacity. You don't have to get carried away, but do make sure there are places to sit comfortably as well as a number of stations where guests can try on jewelry in front of a mirror.
  • Check the lighting -- Guests won't buy what they can't see. Good lighting is important at an event like this. Of course, track lighting is perfect, but whatever you have to offer, like pole lamps or other task lighting solutions, will work to supplement any portable lighting that may be part of the exhibit. Make sure you have electrical service and plenty of extension cords to run along the walls and not across well-trafficked areas.
  • Provide enough table space -- Jewelry displays typically require plenty of table space. Your big dining room table may work, but having a couple of extra folding tables available wouldn't hurt.
  • Make it pretty -- Displaying jewelry attractively is an art, and there are lots of ways to create inexpensive props that get jewelry up off the tabletop. For example: You can screw cup hooks into inexpensive tabletop picture frames to which you've added a mirror or velvet backing. Another inspired idea is to cover an inexpensive paint roller insert with fabric and use it to display bracelets. Also, organic designs show well when draped from driftwood, shells or even from the branches of potted plants. These are just a few examples of ways you can use everyday objects to make jewelry items stand out. The idea is to create a backdrop that will show each piece or collection to advantage.
  • Keep it tidy -- You may want to keep alcohol and swabs on hand to make trying on pierced earrings safe and sanitary. When you provide these niceties, as well as snacks and beverages, it's important to have trash receptacles nearby to eliminate clutter.
  • Offer add-ons -- Add-ons are those ancillary items that complement a purchase. Think of them as jewelry show french fries. For the seller, they provide a profitable sideline. For the buyer, they're part of a one-stop shopping experience that can make or break a sale. Consider the simple presentation box: If you were contemplating a purchase you planned on giving as a gift, would you be more likely to buy it if a box was included? The obvious answer is yes. Other add-on items you might consider are jewelry polishing cloths, bottles of jewelry cleaning solution, simple chains and fancy gift wrapping.
  • Put it together -- You should also stock up on another type of add-on, the jewelry combo. Offering complementary pieces like earring and necklace combos can be an effective way to increase your bottom line. There's a natural urgency for shoppers to purchase as many coordinated pieces as they can, while they can. To make this type of add-on more attractive, it's a good idea to display complementary items together and offer additional discounts for multiple purchases.

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Sources

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