Profitable Times Newsletter

Merchandising Jewelry

First, let's establish why the merchandising of jewelry is so important. In a great many, maybe even a majority of cultural commerce stores, jewelry is one or all of the following:

  • Best selling department
  • Highest margin department
  • Highest revenue and/or margin per square foot department
  • Strongly appealing to women- usually the majority of visitors

The selection is clearly the most important aspect of successful jewelry sales, but you must also make sure it is merchandised well to maximize revenue.

Jewelry Case Location

Make at least one of your jewelry cases highly visible from a distance to help draw customers across the threshold or deeper into the store. Once the customer is at the case, an important aspect of selling higher-priced jewelry is being able to easily provide enhanced customer service which includes taking the jewelry out of the case so the customer can get a closer look and try it on. Try to integrate jewelry into or very close to the cash-wrap or as part of a cluster of jewelry fixtures with dedicated customer service. Jewelry merchandised away from the cash-wrap must be done with a full understanding of the pro-active selling and customer service procedures required to maximize revenue from this category.

Along with books, customers stand longer in front of jewelry than other product categories. When merchandised immediately adjacent to the point of sale, however, too often the jewelry customer is required to move so another customer can checkout. In a worst-case example, a customer with a 75¢ postcard may displace a customer looking at a $250 necklace.

When a jewelry case is included in the cash-wrap area, a highly functional combination of fixtures includes a 'drop zone' between the point of sale and the jewelry case where product is placed for the checkout process.


The closer jewelry is merchandised to the floor the less the perception of quality. High-end jewelry stores usually have one shelf of jewelry at the top of a fixture. The least expensive displays of jewelry have multiple shelves with the lowest just above the toe-kick. The quality of most jewelry carried in museum stores is best displayed with a maximum of two, maybe three, shelves. The optimal height for a standard jewelry case is 38-41 inches. Towers work well to bring pieces closer to eye level and for visually increasing the awareness of the jewelry selection in general.


The jewelry fixture needs what is often called an 'appraising' amount of light that is two to three times brighter than the general light level in the store. This amount of illumination helps to minimize reflection that can reduce clarity when looking through glass. Store ambient and track lighting can't come close to reaching the same results.

To achieve this level of brightness consider lighting that runs across the front of the case where the horizontal and vertical glass meet, vertically at the front corners of the case or under the shelf above. A lighting plan that includes multiple sources increases the sparkle of the jewelry and animates the jewelry as the customer changes position.


Enhance the merchandising of your jewelry by using props to introduce vertical height variations and eye-catching backgrounds. These props may include elements indigenous to your museum like polished river rock, marble chunks or Titanium scraps from the exterior, elegant wood risers, treated tree branches or colorful leaves in the fall, acrylic displays, jewelry pads... the list goes on and on. Don't crowd the display with too much product. The more expensive the jewelry the less dense the merchandising should be.

Price Tags

Part of merchandising jewelry includes determining whether to show the price or not. Some merchandisers believe the customer should see the price to determine if a piece may be of potential interest to them. Others feel showing the price could deter some customers who may ultimately feel otherwise once they start the tactile process of touching the piece.

It has been interesting debating this point throughout the years with no clear consensus emerging. However, I believe the tipping point is that there is no good reason to clutter a jewelry display with price tags, so the tags should be out of sight, which makes the visibility of the price decision moot.


Jewelry greatly benefits from signage that focuses on the artist, connection to the museum's mission or exhibit, where it was made and the materials used. If you believe the customer should be given some indication of prices, these signs can also be used to provide the price range of pieces arranged by artist, location in the case or other broad criterion without the distraction of multiple price tags.


Some jewelry cases have mirrored back doors. Mirrors reflect light making the case somewhat brighter and reflect some product so that it seems like there are more choices. On the other hand, the reflection of product may make it look like there is too much product and can overwhelm and confuse the customer. One thing for sure, the back of the jewelry case should be opaque so the lower part of the salesperson's torso and any mess behind the counter cannot be seen easily. Also, don't forget to provide a high-quality hand or small standing mirror so customers can see how the jewelry looks on them.

Case Tops

As little as possible, especially toward the front of the case, should be merchandised on top of the jewelry cases so as not to block views.

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