As the old saying goes, the only constant in life is change and thanks to the events of the past few years, every industry, including jewellery, has been forced to adjust how it interacts with clients. While travel restrictions have been lifted in most cities, digital consultations are now the norm. So, what if any obstacles are there to selling jewellery online and how does a brand ensure its clients have enough confidence to make a high value purchase remotely? We sat down with JJ Abram, Brand Director at Ronald Abram to find out.
What kind of consultation challenges have you faced in recent years and how have you overcome them?
Jewellery is traditionally an industry where people want to look at and feel what they’re buying. For the past three years that has been virtually impossible, particularly being based in Hong Kong, so as a brand, we’ve had to pivot. That’s meant finding ways to provide even better service and facilitating more opportunities for them to view pieces wherever they’re based. While we offered these services before, today it’s a more significant part of the way we conduct business.
As a business, has that change been better or worse for Ronald Abram?
In many ways, better. It’s given us the opportunity to use our social platforms more effectively and to engage at a deeper level with clients. It’s forced us to get more creative with our content and for the client, that’s been a big positive. We’ve had a lot of feedback especially from new clients through platforms such as Instagram about how well they’re able to immerse themselves in our collections. They appreciate being able to see our pieces in great detail and that’s given them a lot of confidence to reach out and start a conversation.
Have those conversations changed with clients?
They have and for the better. We’re a brand which owns all of our inventory which means we are able to work at our own pace. So when a client gets in touch about a particular piece, we’re able to take the time to show them not only that piece but also other options. Just recently, we had a young woman contact us from the Middle East about an engagement ring. She had a budget and a style in mind but over the course of working with her, she ended up deciding on something completely different. That only happens when you work with a brand like ours where everything is done in-house and you’re dealing exclusively with experienced professionals.
What’s the key to selling online?
There are four things which have worked for us and are key to any online transaction, high-end product or not. You have to provide the client with exceptional assets including high resolution images and video, detailed product descriptions and full gemmological reports, legitimate pricing (the client will have shopped around, they know the range), and most important of all, personal and professional service.
How does the online consultation process work?
The first thing we do is set up a call. You can only cover basic questions on instant messaging, so a phone or video call is the best way for us to get to know a client. That initial conversion generally goes beyond someone’s criteria and budget and also includes things like lifestyle needs and intended use of the piece. From there, we can send images and video, and even arrange live modelling so they can really see how the piece looks with different wardrobe colours and styles. We also provide full product descriptions and all gemmological reports. The biggest difference in dealing with Ronald Abram is that we’re specialists across every gemstone category, not just diamonds, as well as estate jewellery which gives the client many options.
How significant is it for remote buyers that everything at Ronald Abram is done under the one roof?
Very. If we’re consulting with a client and they suggest a particular style or inspiration, we can have our design department mock up a sketch quickly. We can also make recommendations to clients. Plus, as an end-to-end creative house, we have a professional understanding of each stage of the jewellery building process. That means we can work with a client much faster than a brand that has to outsource its manufacturing.
Has the design process been hampered in any way because of the shift to digital consultations?
Fortunately, it hasn’t made any difference. When a client comes to us, they’re normally looking for something in particular. For us, it’s not just about fulfilling the order, we really take the time to understand what they are looking for. We have many decades’ worth of design archives and records and that’s a huge plus particularly down the line. We had a client get in touch recently about a pair of diamond earrings they had designed 35 years ago. One of the earrings broke after it was dropped on the floor. Thanks to our extensive and detailed records we were able to find exactly what part needed replacing and then have them repaired quickly.
What happens if I’m ready to make an acquisition?
Once you’ve selected a piece, we send you an order confirmation accompanied by either a credit card payment link or our bank transfer details. Once payment is made we then send the piece to your location via secured courier. Delivery is available door-to-door in most of our markets. We can also arrange a pickup-up service in Dubai, Geneva and Zurich. Of course, Hong Kong is the best place to collect your piece as it’s 100 percent tax free.
What’s your advice to someone looking for a piece online?
My advice is, if you're not sure, wait. There's no sense in ordering something unless you are absolutely certain. If you need help, speak to a professional to guide you. At Ronald Abram, we’re happy to keep answering your questions, we’re in no rush. When you’re ready to talk, we’re here to listen.