March 2014, Southern Jewelry News

No matter how carefully you plan your jewelry store displays and merchandise, your hard work could all be lost in window glare and shadows.

Lighting design can make all the difference to a store’s success, but too often, jewelry retailers neglect it. Not only is lighting critical in setting the mood of your store and showcasing your products, it may very well be one of your biggest expenses. People disregard the importance of lighting. It becomes a huge part of what defines their store and what defines their image.

Here are six points for jewelry stores to keep in mind when planning their lighting strategy:

1. Take energy and cost efficiency into account.

Going with the cheapest option might be tempting, but if you want to save money down the line, be prepared to spend a little more up front.

Last year, when Tom Carroll opened Classical Diamond – a Michigan-based jewelry store – lighting the space economically was a big concern. With his store bulbs on for 10 hours every day, he wanted a light source that would last. He could have gone with halogen bulbs, the cheapest option, but discovered an LED alternative would emit as much light as a 50-watt bulb, using only 15 watts of energy. What’s more, LED bulbs would last for up to 50,000 hours, about 10 times as long as halogens. While Carroll spent $2,900 more up front, he pays about a fourth as much for electricity as he would with halogen bulbs. In many states, jewelry stores can also get tax rebates for LED lighting.

2. Be wary of fads.

Linear fluorescents do illuminate a great deal of space per fixture, but the light quality is usually poor. There are LED options for ambient lighting that will provide a more beautiful spectrum of light. The trade off is more fixtures recessed into the ceiling. However, I tell people that if your customers are spending their time staring at your ceiling rather than at your merchandise you DON’T have a lighting problem – you have a merchandise presentation problem!

3. Make your products look their best.

Using only one type of lighting throughout your entire store will not make your merchandise look its finest. You always want the product to have the greatest amount of focus. You want a layering light; you don’t just want ambient light. In addition to general lighting, consider accent lights from the ceiling, specialty lighting built into furniture or display cases, and decorative fixtures like chandeliers. What makes an interesting space is having different lighting on different levels. You want to have as many of those categories as you can.

4. Match the lighting to your overall aesthetic.

I suggest the importance of “lighting for diamonds” to improve your sales. If you have the proper lighting for diamonds, everything else will become beneficial. If you light for everything else, your diamonds will lose the light of the sale. The more interesting and complicated the lighting, the more upscale the merchandise is perceived to be. Therefore, I believe it’s a necessity to have proper lighting to light up and sell your diamonds.

5. Meet energy codes.

Before you invest in lighting, find out about your state’s restrictions on maximum wattage per square foot. These could handcuff you a bit in terms of coming up with your design. I advise jewelry stores to consult an expert lighting designer about meeting regulations. While talking to a specialist will cost you up front, it’s another expense that could save you time, money and frustration down the line. Don’t just go to the Home Depot.

6. Consider long-term maintenance.

Remember that the lighting you install won’t take care of itself. You’ll have to replace bulbs, keep fixtures clean and avoid overheating your store with too many high-wattage bulbs. Sometimes, the complications with certain lighting might not be clear at first. For example, a jewelry store didn’t realize a European track-lighting system that the electrician was unfamiliar with would cost her more down the line in more time-consuming and costly repairs. You might get a good deal, but if your electrician is going to have a hard time figuring it out, it’s going to cost you a fortune.

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