Advantages of buying luxury jewelry after the pandemic 2022
Charmaine Sevy is a diamond girl through and through, but recently purchased a necklace adorned with South Sea pearls thanks to a recommendation from her sales associate at Neiman Marcus. “I told him, ‘I don’t know,'” recalls Sevy, who is based in Naples, Florida. “And she said, ‘Charmaine, try it!’ ”
Reader, she bought it.
It’s the kind of bespoke approach that makes the difference for jewelry enthusiasts. While the rest of the world has moved from shopping IRL to URL over the past two years, things have worked a little differently for this type of VIP.
“Before, communication was a little more finicky,” says Natalie Bloomingdale, founder of curated e-commerce site The SIL, the retail industry’s standard mo for customer outreach. “But during lockdown it was more intentional, and with care.”
The white-glove treatment has always been the norm in luxury, where perks can include collection previews, jewelry try-ons with designers, and custom pieces. During the pandemic, stores have also offered incentives, such as transporting their jewelry assortment — as well as security — directly to customers’ living rooms (or airlifting it to a second or third home). Now retailers are keeping top-tier customers engaged by relying on something an iPhone can’t provide: a personal touch.
A direct line to a favorite store associate is a no-brainer. Today, the hottest perk is visiting a designer’s studio to see pieces fresh from the studio. Meanwhile, some brands are hosting intimate events in remote locations (think southern France) for VVIPs. In our age of self-promotion and over-sharing, these one-on-ones offer ultra-rich and spendthrift clients much-desired discretion.
When Neiman Marcus returned to in-person interactions, he didn’t do so with a whisper but with a bang, hosting a brunch at the iconic Sheats-Goldstein residence in Los Angeles that served as a reminder that, in the upper echelon of retail, the links between customers and their referring sellers are anything but strictly commercial.
“You end up becoming friends,” says jewelry designer and philanthropist Bridget Gless Keller, arm in arm with Penny Rhodes, her associate of choice. “Having someone who can organize is key. That’s what I can’t do anymore,” adds Gless Keller, mimicking leafing through a catalog with glassy eyes. A great partner is a filter, which brings you a bespoke modification and, if you’re lucky, a side of gossip.
Jewelery addicts have no shortage of virtual platforms to get their fix, but Gless Keller concedes there’s no substitute for the tactile experience. “You have to touch it, feel the weight,” she says.
Like so many industries, retail has adapted to the early changes brought about by the lockdown. For many stores, this meant jumping headlong into the digital future, but in other ways it has revived the age-old act lost in our age of pixels and social media: that of customer service.
Bloomingdale’s, for example, raved about her grandmother, who lived in a rural town three hours from Dallas but drove to meet her personal shopper at Neiman Marcus.
“You know, there was magic in that,” she says, adding that she carried on the tradition. “There’s this gentleman named Gary who works in the shoe department, and he said, ‘Natalie, there’s this girl I want you to meet. I think you two would get along. And now she’s, like, , one of my three best girlfriends,” she says. “I mean, my shoe salesman introduced me to one of my best friends!”
Berlinger is a freelance writer based in Brooklyn. Her work has been featured in The New York Times, Bloomberg Businessweek, Los Angeles Times, Business of Fashion and others. He’s probably wasting time on Twitter right now