In 2014, Dianna Rae opened Dianna Rae Jewelry in Lafayette, Louisiana, and it soon became the city’s custom design mecca. Its custom made interior is an airy, light-filled space that exudes her welcoming presence. And the cases feature stunning custom designs by Dianna and the store’s other two designers.
Dianna knew that to attract customers, she had to create a unique experience. For 35 years in the business, custom design had been her focus, so it made sense to devote her store to it. In addition to designing for customers, she and the store’s other two designers create the jewelry in the cases. “My love for unique colored gemstones leads me to create a variety of designs from funky to vintage,” she says. “The jewelry that I design for our cases centers around colored gemstones. I also do a lot of remount and special request designs for my clients. I listen to their story and help them turn that into jewelry.”
“Opals are intrinsically mysterious and vary dramatically in colors,” Dianna says. “Customers really respond to them because they seem to be alive. We began our gemstone education with opals and held it at the store.” Interest grew, and it wasn’t long before Dianna had to move the event to a local restaurant to have adequate seating. She has an opals expert come and talk about the different types while attendees look at a wide selection.
The store’s Gemstone Round Table uses the same format. Customers view a wide selection of beautiful and exotic gemstones presented by a gemstone expert. “When customers decide which opal or gemstone they want,” Dianna says, “we schedule an appointment to help them design a piece of jewelry that shows it off to best effect.” She offers each of these classes twice a year.
Designing with Customers
“Our goal with the design process is to bring out the client’s inner designer and guide them through the process step-by-step,” Dianna says. “Some come in with a picture of a piece they like, but with CounterSketch®, hand sketches, and Matrix®, we can show them many more possibilities. We help them achieve their goal of a unique design.”And clients love the process. When Dianna and her design staff use their CAD software, they enhance the customer experience by printing the jewelry on the store’s 3D printer.