(M)engagement Rings: New Trend for Engaged Men

In the United States, tradition has been that the man provides his fiancé with an engagement ring to symbolize their intent to be married to society. However, times change, and younger generations find new ways to evolve the wedding industry in exciting ways. The latest trend that is beginning to reach America from Europe is an engagement ring meant for men. Enter the “mengagement ring.”

Let’s dive into this trend and see how it has developed. Then, as your trusted jewelry resource, we will provide some insight so you can answer questions your customers have regarding picking out their own men’s engagement ring.

Mengagement Ring: New Trend or Newly Successful?

Believe it or not, the concept of men wearing engagement rings is not that new. Cultures around the world have integrated the men’s engagement ring over the ages into their own wedding traditions. For example, in Chile, both men and women wear engagement rings; however, they wear them on their right hand and move them to their left on their wedding day. In Argentina, couples exchange their rings at the engagement, not the wedding. In Sweden and other Nordic countries, both men and women exchange a simple gold or silver band at their engagement.

Fun Fact: Even in America, jewelers attempted to market engagement rings to men in the 1920s. While that sales strategy proved to be unsuccessful at that time, men eventually did adopt the wedding band a few decades later.

The trend of western civilization adopting an engagement ring for men was first seen in 2009 in the United Kingdom. A jeweler named H. Samuel introduced the “Tioro” – a wide band with a single small diamond meant specifically as an engagement ring for men. While this ring has been primarily used as a wedding ring, the trend has started to take hold over the last decade.

Fun Fact: According to Ritani in 2020, 1 in 20 women propose to their fiancés.

With the rise of many couples being more concerned with equality and men in America being more comfortable with wearing jewelry, both men and women have taken to wearing engagement rings to show their matching love and commitment. Prominent examples of men donning an engagement ring include Johnny Depp, David Otunga, Ed Sheeran, and Michael Buble.

Regardless of the reasons or motivations, that fact is that more men or their partners will be looking into engagement rings in the coming years. When the time comes, be prepared by knowing what questions to ask so you can be your customers’ guide at the start of their marriage journey.

The Initial Conversation

Because there is no set tradition for this trend, you may have the future groom discussing a ring he envisions for himself or you may have his future fiancé looking to surprise him. Either way, get to know his tastes and jewelry habits at the start so you know which styles to suggest.

Style

The groom-to-be may want to stack an engagement ring and wedding band on one finger, they may wear the engagement ring on one finger and the wedding band on another, they may only choose to wear the one ring, etc. Knowing how he might plan on wearing his engagement ring will help make the following decisions.

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Width and Size

Men’s bands tend to have a greater width. However, if they intend on having an engagement band and a wedding band on the same finger, it would be better to suggest a thinner ring. Wider bands are more typical for men, but it depends on what is most comfortable for him. Compare other rings he may wear to get an idea of what width he prefers.

Metal Choice

While style preference is a major factor in choosing metal, also have a conversation on how physically active he is. Gold is a classic metal choice with many design options available; however, a man that needs a more durable ring for work and vigorous activity should look at platinum or a strong contemporary metal, such as cobalt or tantalum.

Design Preferences

Just like women’s engagement rings, the style and design possibilities are endless. Men with simple or traditional tastes might prefer a classic gold band. Customize with a personalized engraving and make it the perfect ring to symbolize his love and commitment. Men looking for sleek and modern pieces have several options in terms of design, including artistic finishes, inlays, two-toned metals, and stones. Getting to know fashion preferences and activity levels will help you guide your customer to the right ring.

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Custom Solutions Make for Memorable Experiences

While there are countless men’s wedding band designs out there that work perfectly for a man’s engagement ring, this new jewelry trend might deserve a more tailored approach. Consider working with your customer on creating an engagement ring that is 100% unique to him. Design it yourself using our jewelry design software, MatrixGold® or CounterSketch®, then submit your design to our CAD/CAM Services team to make their dream a reality. We even create wax models so you can show your customer exactly what they are getting. This is a special moment in their life and you can make it a memorable one.

Are You Sold on Men’s Engagement Rings?

For many jewelers, this trend is definitely outside of the ordinary. However, it is important to stay on top of the industry’s trends so you can best serve your customers. Men will continue to be more comfortable going outside the box and wearing the jewelry they like. We know you will continue to provide the best service to your customers, and Stuller will continue to be your partner in business for all your jewelry needs.


For more resources on men’s jewelry fashion, check out these blog posts!

Gemstones for All: Five Gemstones for Men and Women

Contemporary Metal Bands: Trending and Here to Stay

Wedding Bands: Don’t Forget the Guys




Customization is the Key to Holiday Sales Success

The holiday selling season is here!

It’s likely your busiest time of year, and we want to help you create one-of-a-kind gifts for your best customers. At Gemvision, we offer two major CAD software options to design custom jewelry.

Explore Endless Options: MatrixGold®

This powerful CAD software lets you design models from scratch and explore the full depth of your creativity. If you can envision a shape, you can bring it to life. The only limit is your imagination.

MatrixGold helps you in two other big ways:

  • You get the weight, dimensions, and stone report on the final piece, which reduces haggling and helps you work within your customer’s budget.
  • You can create realistic renders and animations of the piece to WOW your customer. These renders and animations are also great for using in your social media marketing, on your website, and in your design portfolio.

Create an Experience: CounterSketch®

We know that any retailer wants to offer as many models as they can, but it’s impossible to stock all the options that customers may be looking for. With CounterSketch, you get hundreds of library designs that are ready to show to your customer and to be modified to their needs.

  • CounterSketch is perfect for inviting customers into the customization process. Whether they’re at your side or joining you remotely, they can watch you design their piece. You can make their requested changes with just a few clicks, and the design will update right before their eyes.
  • In CounterSketch, you can use and assemble freehand parts to create one-of-a-kind designs.
  • Once the design is done, you submit it to the team at Stuller. Our CAD/CAM Services handles the manufacturing and will deliver the piece to you at the manufacturing level you need: finished or unfinished, and set, semi-set, or unset.

Better Together

Do you want to create your own designs and have them ready and in stock? Bring MatrixGold and CounterSketch together for your business!

You can design in MatrixGold and then import those designs to CounterSketch. Once you have them in CounterSketch, it’s easy to show all your designs to your customers.

From there, you can show your designs from any perspective, change materials, make realistic renders, price them, and send them to Stuller for manufacturing. While we do the heavy lifting, you can keep serving your customers.

Watch one of our designers use MatrixGold and CounterSketch to create a pair of intricate earrings:


At Gemvision, we offer all the tools you need to make your customers feel like the most important person in the world. You can proudly advertise that you can make custom-designed jewelry to be delivered in time for the holiday season. Offer them nothing less than the best with CounterSketch and MatrixGold.

Happy selling!


For more information about MatrixGold, CounterSketch, and how they can benefit your business, take a look at these recent blog posts.

Details on MatrixGold’s Newest Software Updates

Take a Look Inside the July 2020 CounterSketch Update

Confidence Sells, So Know Your Software




Confidence Sells, So Know Your Software

Have any of you ever renovated your kitchen, or taken a precious family photo to be framed? Our homes and family heirlooms are important to us, and we don’t trust them to just anyone. We are looking for a contractor or framer that approaches their tools with skill and assurance. What if the framer puts on gloves before handling your photo, or the contractor comments on an essential aspect of the project that you never considered? How would you feel about proceeding with the project?

As Jewelers, our reputation is essential to our business. Customers must feel that they can trust us to complete their job confidently. Be sure that you and your staff are well trained and certain in using the tools of our trade. Your confidence will not only put customers at ease, but your ability to speak with conviction, clarity, and sincerity may be the key to closing the sale. Lots of industries, including doctors, pharmacists, and even tax accounts, do annual recurrent training. This training ensures that their skills are up to date and that they are aware of the latest and most significant advancements.

Our Gemvision training team wants to make sure that your staff is prepared and ready for whatever design challenges may walk through your door or hit your inbox. To help you prepare, Gemvision offers not only comprehensive training for beginners but also modules revolving around recent updates for those seasoned employees that only need to learn what is new. Here are a few examples of our online training that you can access from your store or home, listed by software.

CounterSketch® Online Training

  • CounterSketch Artisan Certification Curriculum: This series of 25 lessons, each with an accompanying quiz, will teach your staff everything they need to know about using CounterSketch with a customer. Once they complete all the classes and tests, they receive a CounterSketch Artisan Certification that they can print and frame and attach to their linked in profile.  
  • Watch Me Work: This series walks the student through building 14 on-trend unique designs, giving them the confidence to not only make these designs but other designs using freehand parts.   
  • Freehand Faceoff Vol.1-6: Given a theme, two designers go head to head to create unique designs. This fun yet challenging approach pushes your staff to think outside the box and imagine new ways of using existing tools and freehand parts.

MatrixGold® Academy

  • MatrixGold Artisan Curriculum: This series of 27 lessons will teach your staff everything they need to know about using MatrixGold. Including designing solitaires, eternity bands, five stone rings, and even cabochon pendants. This introductory class is a great starting point for any designers that are new to MatrixGold.
  • Matrix 9 to MatrixGold Conversion: This extensive course covers lessons on the user interface, user preferences, content management, modeling, profile editors, rendering, and much more. If you have been working in Matrix 9 and are ready to upgrade to MatrixGold, we have an online learning plan to help you with the transition.
  • Summer 2020 Update: As our development team continues to add and refine the tools in MatrixGold, you can expect great things. We separate videos for recently added features so that as you continue to learn, you can focus on what is new without having to review existing tools. This 11 lesson module teaches you to use the latest tools added to MatrixGold.

With these options and many more, there is valuable content for you and your staff to explore on Gemvision’s online training platforms. However, if you are looking for one-on-one training experience, we are happy to offer hourly training with our Gemvision training team as well. We are here to support you and your staff as you provide unparalleled service to your customers.




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Enhance your customer experience through Custom Solutions

What tools do you need for your Custom Jewelry Design toolbox?

Are you wondering what is out there when it comes to custom jewelry from Stuller? Stuller is always trying to expand its customization offerings to meet you and your customer whatever your custom design needs are.

The most recent custom solutions guide (link to guide) helps you to understand all of your customization options and select the tools that are best suited for your store.

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The Custom Solutions Guide walks you through five solutions, including CAD/CAM Services, 3C and Stuller Showcase, Digital Goldsmith, CounterSketch, and MatrixGold.

The guide devotes a two page spread to each solution with quotes from subject matter experts, hardware compatibility, price, and skill level information. Each solution is explained, and you can see the key features and benefits of each tool.

Here’s a glimpse at what you’ll learn:

CAD/CAM Services does the work for you

With four services to choose from Stuller’s CAD/CAM services is happy to do the hard work for you. Submit a wax or resin model, and CAD/CAM services will take care of the casting so that you don’t have to. Submit a CAD Model, and our team will grow the wax or resin and do the casting as well. See a Stuller style that you like but need a modification? Through Modify a Style, choose an existing style and request that our CAD team makes the changes to your specifications. Submit a sketch will enable you to send in an image or drawing, and our CAD team will do the CAD work for you, once approved, we will take care of manufacturing all in one place.

3C and Stuller Showcase allows you to make changes online and get retail pricing.

Don’t have what your customer is looking for in-stock? Take them to Stuller Showcase and browse Stuller’s inventory via showcase with your logo, branding, and retail pricing. While you are there, check out our 3C product, which allows you to choose, change, and create your customer’s perfect ring. Flexible 3C Designs enable you to change the finger size, metal, center stone shape, and center stones size.

Digital Goldsmith helps you to assemble the dream for the customer

With Digital Goldsmith, choose from Stuller’s extensive collection of findings and shanks to build the perfect ring for your customer using existing Stuller components. Digital Goldsmith partners with the Magnetic Ring Builder for an interactive tactile in-store experience. Digital Goldsmith is also part of Stuller Showcase, so pricing can be shown at retail cost.

CounterSketch gives your customer options to adjust or build their ring in a 3D environment.

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Interact with your customers in-store or from the comfort of their homes via a remote session. CounterSketch has a library of modifiable designs to choose from and also offers freehand parts if you wish to build your design using components. Each component can be changed and updated onscreen, so your customer instantly sees their changes, modify a library design into their ideal design.

Design their vision with MatrixGold

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MatrixGold allows you to begin with a blank canvas and design any ring your customer can imagine. No starting libraries mean unlimited possibilities and jewelry driven tools give you everything you need to design jewelry your customers will love. The latest addition of parametric history allows you to go back and modify a design at any point so you can quickly make changes to meet your customer’s requests.

Many of our customers find that one tool isn’t enough. With an ever-changing customer, often more than one tool is needed on the same day, or for that matter, the same sale. Be sure you and your staff understand all the options available so that you can say yes to your customer regardless of their custom jewelry request.

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If you are looking for ways to engage your customers and set yourself apart from your competition, consider customization, which allows you to work one-on-one with your customer to get them the design they want. Choosing the right set of tools for your store has never been easier.


What Custom Solutions are you ready to explore? Let us know in the comments below!




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3 Exciting New Features for CounterSketch® 2019

Good things only get better, and at Gemvision, we strive to provide only the best in CAD software. It’s been an exciting few months keeping our latest update a secret — but the wait ends now!

Today, I’m incredibly excited to announce the release of the CounterSketch 2019 fall update, here just in time for the holidays. This update comes with some long-anticipated features, which I’ll detail below.

NEW Gemstone Shopper

CounterSketch has always been a fantastic customization tool, but adding gemstones opens the door to even more exciting possibilities. Now, you and your customers can shop Stuller’s extensive collection of Notable Gems™.

These uncalibrated gemstones are individually sourced for beauty and rarity and will inspire your creativity — not to mention your customers’ creativity.

The shop-by-color experience allows you to select more than one type of gemstone at a time. And the good news? It’s precisely the same as shopping with your customers on Stuller.com.

If you’re already familiar with that, there’s nothing new to learn; just start shopping!

Updated Diamond Shopping Experience

As before, you can shop the entire Stuller Diamonds™ inventory via CounterSketch. With the new updates, you can:

  • Filter, sort, and compare diamonds as you would on Stuller.com.
  • View videos of the diamonds and grading reports while working in CounterSketch.
  • Provide a seamless, enhanced shopping experience for you and your customers.

Once you’ve selected the perfect diamond or gemstone, use CounterSketch to design a one-of-a-kind piece of jewelry to hold that special stone forever.

Stuller Showcase® Pricing Integration

Stuller Showcase is the source for all CounterSketch markups, and with the new pricing integration, you can now do a few cool new things with markup options and categories:

  • Choose diamond markups by cost or by weight.
  • Specify gemstone markups by price in four different tiers.
  • Choose metal markups based on metal type and studio charges.
  • Incorporate flat fees and taxes to get the most accurate price.

We also added a new CounterSketch flat fee that is exclusive to CounterSketch. With this feature, you can account for any additional costs or margins you wish to make on CounterSketch projects.

Stuller Showcase Pricing integration

If you haven’t set up your Stuller Showcase markups yet, be sure to do so. Not sure how? Watch this quick tutorial:

 




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See the Advantages of CounterSketch Streaming for Small Businesses

Gemvision, A Stuller Company, just released CounterSketch Streaming. The first question that may come to mind is, “why?” CounterSketch is already a great program that is easy to use. Why add this new option? As always, the motivation lies in helping our customers.

CounterSketch Streaming Software Social Share

CounterSketch Streaming software as a Service — or SaaS model — offers many benefits to our customers, including:

Lower Initial Cost

With CounterSketch Streaming, there’s no need to purchase a gaming computer, nor will you have to pay to maintain that computer over time. Since most CounterSketch customers are small businesses, we hope this pay-as-you-go model will bring advantages to your business. This new CounterSketch Streaming option provides you with world-class custom design technology for a manageable monthly fee.

Easy Access and Updates

Accessing CounterSketch Streaming is simple. Download a small launcher from our website and use your Stuller.com credentials to log in. Gemvision will ensure that your software is always up to date with the latest software updates, library updates, and the most current version of Rhinocerous (the platform that CounterSketch operates on).

Free Training

CounterSketch online training is included with your monthly subscription. Now, you can train your entire staff at no additional cost. Your team can go online at their convenience, watch videos, and take quizzes to test their knowledge of the software. New videos are added monthly. As we improve and update the software, your staff will always be up to date on the latest and greatest CounterSketch features.

Scaleability

As CounterSketch becomes a more critical part of your business, you may find that you need more licenses. With streaming, it is easy to get additional seats. This way, more of your staff can use CounterSketch Streaming with customers at the same time, for a reduced monthly fee.

Shared Remote Sessions

Customers can’t always make it into your store for a design consultation. CounterSketch Streaming allows you and your customer to connect for a virtual design consultation without requiring them to leave the comfort of their home or office.

Security

Streaming will enable us to provide even safer platforms for you and your customers to conduct business. The new functionality will allow Gemvision to protect the integrity of its products.

If these benefits appeal to you, join us for one of our weekly CounterSketch demonstrations. Or, request a free trial today to see how CounterSketch Streaming can impact your custom design business today.


Don’t believe me? Don’t just take my word for it! Check out these articles on why CounterSketch Streaming — or SaaS — could be a sound choice for your small business:

Forbes: Five Reasons Why Switching To SaaS Will Be The Best Investment You Make This Year

IBM: Top five advantages of software as a service (SaaS)

TechnologyAdvice: Four Advantages of Software as a Service (SaaS)

 




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School Your Sales Staff with CounterSketch Training and Webinars

Did you know over half of today’s engagement rings are custom designed? Fortunately for your business, customization commands higher prices. And with the just-in-time manufacturing and virtual inventory that comes along with CounterSketch®, you can enjoy lower overhead and therefore higher margins.

So, customization software is clearly a win-win for you AND your customers. But, to maximize its effectiveness, make sure your entire sales team knows how to use CounterSketch to its full potential.

 

Register for CounterSketch training today so your entire staff can feel comfortable using the software.

2019 CounterSketch Training Dates at Stuller:

•  April 17 – April 19*

•  July 24 – July 26*

•  September 25 – September 27*

•  October 23 – October 25*

* A Stuller Bridge Event precedes these CounterSketch training dates.


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CounterSketch Training is a Must!

Stuller’s CounterSketch training covers the core tools you will use every day when working with the software. In training, we’ll cover all the basic skills needed to close a sale using Countersketch— from using the style quiz to searching the showcase to selecting a starting model. Then, we learn how to navigate in the viewport using the design stack and then how to properly save your designs. Once you have the design a customer loves, you can then create a basic render and walk through the order process.

Upon completing the CounterSketch training, your sales staff will be better equipped to qualify prospective customers, determining exactly what they are looking for and how to narrow results to a few options. Then, if closing the sale requires more advanced tools like Freehand, your sales staff can save the design and make a followup appointment where the project can be passed to your jewelry designer or expert CounterSketch user.

This sort of strategy removes some of the burden from your sales staff by handing the project to your CounterSketch expert, all while ushering your customer along down the sales pipeline.

Welcome your newest sales staff with this CounterSketch quick start guide to kick off the software training

Try CounterSketch FREE Webinars

Once a month, Stuller hosts a free CounterSketch® webinar for those seeking to grow and refine their software skills. These are sure to boost your business and help serve your customers’ customization cravings. There is also a recording of the most recent webinar on this page for those who were unable to attend live.

View dates, sign up, or learn more at Stuller.com/CSSwebinar


Have you attended CounterSketch training at Stuller Headquarters? How has it enhanced your business? Let us know in the comments below!




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5 Ways to Weave CounterSketch Software Practice Into Your Daily Workflow

It’s no secret that practice is pivotal to perfecting your performance— ask any football player who spent months gearing up for this season. Yet, how in the world can you find time for CounterSketch software practice for yourself and your employees? After all, your days are busy and the customer must always come first.

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Here are a few ideas on how to incorporate CounterSketch software practice into your daily routine. And best of all, these tactics might even drive custom jewelry traffic right to your store!

1. Assign a designer of the week

Most jewelry stores set up and put away the jewelry in their showcases every day. For most employees, this becomes a mundane activity. Try designating a different employee each week as the designer of the week. This person is responsible for setting up the store’s CounterSketch station and designing a ring for the rest of the staff as they set out the jewelry showcases.

While this sounds like a simple exercise, it will encourage your sales staff to think of CounterSketch as an extension of your live inventory. It will also force each employee to get familiar with the software, using it each day for a week. Also, onlooking employees might learn design techniques they haven’t seen before. And in the end, you’ll have a beautifully designed ring on a sales floor monitor that may catch a customers’ attention when you open for business. The designer of the week may also take renders of all their designs and post them on social media to share their design style and personality!

2. Get inspired by old inventory

You know that box of loose gemstones in your safe or that piece of jewelry that’s taken up real estate in your showcase since gold was $600/oz? Challenge your employees to remount the style using CounterSketch. This is excellent practice for working with heirloom jewelry and weighing custom remount options. You may be surprised by how many variations your employees create and how they express their design styles. Then, post before and after photos of the old inventory and redesigned renders on social media. You’ll flex your store’s customization capabilities and might even inspire your customers to consider their own remount project.

3. Tell everyone about your custom services

Customers often find themselves wandering about the sales floor. They may be waiting on a watch battery, picking up a repair, or perhaps just browsing. Encourage your sales staff to take the opportunity to introduce CounterSketch. In preparation, have your employees practice a two-minute demo or elevator pitch demonstrating CounterSketch’s abilities. Many customers are unaware that computer-aided design is an option in the jewelry space.

This demo helps in two ways: your customer will be more informed about the services you offer and your employees get CounterSkech software practice in front of a live audience. Also, challenge your team to describe your customization process using imagery on social media. You can tell a compelling custom engagement or remount story using your own photography and renders. Or, if you used Stuller’s CAD/CAM services, ask about our More Than a Ring book option.

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4. Propose an option the customer didn’t expect

I often hear about customers who have strong partnerships with their jewelers. They reach out asking for jewelry ideas and seek help commemorating life’s milestones. These customers rely on their jewelers to prescribe the trendiest pieces that are exactly what their loved ones desire. It’s no easy task! Sure, you can look through your showcase and select a piece from inventory that may meet their satisfaction. Or, next time this opportunity arises, squeeze in some extra CounterSketch software practice by offering at least one custom option.

Try this: create a true one-of-a-kind surprise for your customer by showing them not only what an incredible designer you are, but also how well you know them. For example, ruby is a traditional 40th-anniversary gift choice. Perhaps you would design a ruby halo ring in CounterSketch surrounded by forty diamonds, one for each year of marriage. Use CounterSketch’s flexibility to tell a personalized story that commemorates not just any anniversary, but their special 40th anniversary.

5. Get professional help

Don’t be afraid to ask for help when you need it. Gemvision offers both online and in-person training options for CounterSketch. We also provide free monthly solution sessions webinars to help train and challenge your sales staff with a little CounterSketch software practice.

Shop CounterSketch on Stuller.com


 

 




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Learn How Chase Colwell Revitalized His Business with CounterSketch

My family has run The Jewelry Store in Bryan, Texas for forty-three years in the same location. Back then, when my grandmother called in orders to Stuller, Matt Stuller answered the phone . . . or so I’ve been told. I was raised in this store— from crawling on the carpet to now designing custom jewelry using CounterSketch®. The proof is on the walls! I have drawings all over our back walls that grew better as I got older and taller. My grandmother spoiled, or as she says loved me, allowing me to grow up playing video games and drawing on the walls in the back of the store through my youth. I look forward to passing this on to my three kids one day.

From the ground up

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Chase Colwell, on left, pictured with his parents Robby and Michelle

Growing up, I watched my parents and grandparents do things I’m now able to do myself. After class in high school, I’d walk a block down to our shop. Once I graduated, I went across town to College Station, studying at a little agricultural school named Texas A&M University. Throughout my time at A&M, I worked in the store as much as I could, beginning with jewelry repair. My dad, a bench jeweler for over 30 years, taught me everything from the ground up.

I began making artwork out of coins to learn the feel of a handsaw and attention to detail; I still have my first coin on a keychain! Then, I learned all aspects of benchwork through silversmithing. My first project was to bend silver stock over a ring mandrel and solder together a size 7 ring. This is the same process I’ve used thousands of times since in my handmade silver jewelry line.

After finishing at A&M, I decided to branch out on my own and start a landscaping business. It didn’t take long to realize I was in the wrong business. After a few rainy days spent hanging out at the shop with dad and watching him sell rings for numbers that would’ve taken countless back-breaking hours behind a mower, I sold my landscaping equipment and set up a permanent bench at our family store. I’ve worked here ever since. From jewelry repair to design, we complete our work by hand at the bench with heat and elbow grease.

Chasing big dreams

I intended on continuing benchwork with my father, Robby Colwell, at The Jewelry Store to carry on our business. But something happened last year that changed everything. I injured my neck while training for an Olympic Selection Shotgun Match. I grew up shooting shotgun sports (trap, skeet, sporting clays, etc.), competing in the Texas 4-H program, Texas A&M team, and with the Olympic development program. Then life hit me with kids, wife, and work. I laid down my shotgun and decided competing for a gold medal didn’t pay as much as learning how to make gold rings. After watching the Rio Olympics, I was shocked that not one United States man made the Olympic Trap finals, and even more astounded that the scores these Olympic athletes were putting up were scores that I used to be able to shoot.

I decided to pick up my old faithful over and under shotgun and try my luck 15 years later with a few rounds of trap. Sure enough, my scores were consistently 22-24 out of 25. Once I found out the next Olympic selection match for the 2020 Tokyo Summer Olympics was only five months away, I resumed practicing. Soon enough, I began feeling the all-too-familiar pain in my arm and fingers which wouldn’t go away. Three years earlier, I’d injured my neck and had surgery to replace and fuse two disks in my upper spine. Now I found myself back at the neurologist examining MRI results. We both knew what caused the neck injury this time.

Turning challenge into opportunity

I remember leaving the doctor’s office in tears knowing that my aspiration for the Tokyo Olympics was over and my career was in jeopardy. No more clay target shooting or hunting. The next realization was that I was on a path to potentially jeopardize the success of the business my grandmother founded and I’d hoped to raise my family around. I had a second surgery the following week and did physical therapy afterward. Recovery was quick. Soon enough, I was back at work and helping customers in the front of the store.

I gradually got back into benchwork, but each time I made a piece, I was in pain from my lingering injuries. Month after month, it didn’t get better. Was I going to rely on my dad to do all the custom jewelry and repair work from this point on? Then, I spoke to our absolutely lovely Stuller Rep, Rhonda, about the CounterSketch program. Knowing my parents’ old school ways, I knew I would have to set this up on my own accord. Rhonda came into The Jewelry Store about five short months ago with Tim Brown and they were able to showcase the possibilities of this handy design software. In return, our business of 43 years has experienced the best summer sales ever!

A few CounterSketch designs by Chase Colwell
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A fresh start with CounterSketch Success

Now, with this amazingly simplistic and fun to use program installed on a fast gaming computer (thanks Tim), we carry out essentially every custom job using CounterSketch. I’m not only helping Pops by designing jewelry and being on the sales floor with customers but now he doesn’t have the labor-intensive job of putting a ring together with a mini torch from scratch. Nope, all Pops needs to do is occasionally set a few customers’ stones into their rings and it’s out the door! The profits we’ve seen in our business from this program has also allowed us to buy new tools for the workshop, including a brand-new, top-of-the-line workbench for my dad!

After purchasing CounterSketch, my dad had another great idea. We retired his old workbench which served our family for 40 years, through three generations, and installed a big flat screen on the showroom floor to show off CounterSketch’s capabilities. The software has actually allowed us to set ourselves apart from others in our area. We’re a mom and pop shop with new age technology. People love to sit down and design because it’s fun and engaging. The experience is reassuring to sit in a store that has longevity and a great reputation, knowing all the while that we aren’t going anywhere.

In the last four months, we’ve been able to generate the most summer sales that we have experienced in 43 years of business! Personally, it’s allowed my design skills to flourish and has turned my line of custom silver jewelry into a full-blown jewelry line with a watermark (thanks Stuller for setting that up for me). Not only am I being recognized locally as a premier jewelry designer, but recently, I was honored by being named Stuller’s #HowIStuller Designer of the Week on Instagram with a rockin’ bass guitar ring designed for a professional actor and musician.

Customer service is key

Another factor that sets our store apart is stellar customer service when it comes to customization. We go above and beyond to serve our customers, making sure everyone leaves The Jewelry Store happier than when they entered. I personally text each customer when their repair is ready for pick up, keeping in contact with each customer throughout every CounterSketch project. I enjoy taking my laptop home after work and coming up with a few rendered pictures to send to customers at night so when they come back in we can go over a few designs. They are reassured that their file is saved and there is no rush, worry, or hassle.

With three generations of customers to remember, meeting them and getting to know their story is my favorite part of working in this business. I find it much easier to remember people by getting to know their story. Now, I get to design wedding sets for customers whose grandparents had their rings designed by my grandparents. I love the opportunity to sit with customers, get to know them, then create a one-of-a-kind piece with their creativity and my design experience combined. There are no ifs, ands, or buts; CounterSketech keeps me and the customer on the same page. They design what they are spending their money on as they fall in love with it. And that’s before I show them the best part. “Would you like me to generate you a high-resolution photo of your ring on a hand?” It blows their minds every single time!

Jewelry Created by Chase Colwell

As a 33-year-old third generation jeweler, I once specialized in Christian-themed silver jewelry. Now, with CounterSketch, I can make just about anything. I love coming to work each and every single day and bringing ideas to life. I married my Bryan High School sweetheart, Jaimie, and we have a lovely, diverse family of three children and one ferocious feline— Maribelle The Cat Chandelier. I love being with family, teaching Sunday school at Connecting Point Church, and anything outdoors (as long as it doesn’t involve a shotgun).

It’s amazing to think I grew up rolling around on the floor in the same shop that now supports my family. Because of its success, we’ve been able to do things that never would have been possible otherwise. After completing a year of training with Nikki Pederson Talent, my daughter Sophia is leaving for Los Angeles to pursue her acting dreams, with auditions already lined up! I was on top of the Beverly Hills Hilton a few months ago at a party full of actors, agents, managers, and producers— all of whom were blown away when I pulled out my phone to show them my latest CounterSketch renders. I thought to myself right then, “Wow our little jewelry store might have some big clientele coming our way!”

Chase Colwell Jesus Story Necklace CounterSketech Feature

The Jesus Story Necklace by Chase Colwell

The Jesus Story Necklace that I used to cut out by hand, one at a time with a hand saw, is my favorite design I’ve ever created. It’s a sideways bar with the symbols representing the story of Jesus. He came down, died on the cross, went to the tomb, ascended to Heaven, and promises to come back. This simple design has changed the eternity of many people I know and countless others whose stories I hear. I’ve sold over 400 of these simple necklaces in two years and now they are in thirteen states and three countries. Thousands of testimonies are shared with people who just walk up and ask what the symbols mean. I still love making huge diamond rings too, like one I designed on CounterSketch with over 200 stones set. I enjoy custom gents’ rings, like the bass guitar and drum ring. But, The Jesus Story Necklace is where it all began. And in the end, it’s the only thing that really matters to me.

A bit of advice from Chase Colwell

The single most important piece of business advice is simple: genuinely dedicate yourself to your customer service. It’s number one! No matter who walks through that door, you must treat them as your number one priority, even if it’s just for a watch battery or a simple ring cleaning. Because oftentimes, those two mundane tasks lead to many custom design jobs with CounterSketch.


Learn more about CounterSketch at Stuller.com

 




Jim Leeds CounterSketch Blog Header

How Jim Leeds Uses CounterSketch For Success

Jim Leeds’ Journey with Jack Lewis Jewelers

After working at the same retail store for years, I started a career with Jack Lewis Jewelers. I began strictly making sales. Then, after a year, I transitioned into a new role as a custom jewelry designer. For the last five years, I’ve held the position of Sales Associate and Designer. While almost all custom work gets filtered through me, I got my start selling diamonds, so I still enjoy helping bridal clients find the right piece to signify their love. On any given day, you can find me sketching or drafting 3D models at my desk on the sales floor or behind a counter showing my favorite finished jewelry pieces.

There’s something about this industry that’s an interesting mix of science, technology, and fashion — all of which appeal to me. The opportunity to dream up a design, then use the technology to bring it to life is my favorite part of the job. All the while, I get to create something cherished by my clients!

Jim Leeds Convertible Earring Sketch

Creating with CounterSketch®

CounterSketch design software sparked my interest because it lets me design a piece of jewelry in front of clients. I can instantly render them in a realistic state, provide a quote, and order all in one sitting. The foresight involved in creating such a user (and customer) friendly software is unparalleled. The simplicity of the entire process offers a flawless sales presentation. And while not every project I stumble across is a CounterSketch job, I use the software as much as possible.

CounterSketch has given Jack Lewis Jewelers an upper hand in communicating design concepts, along with quick and easy ordering. These capabilities have allowed us to take CounterSketch to the next level. Beyond using the software as a sales presentation tool, we have created a weekly Facebook marketing campaign entitled, This Means War! Here, we feature two CounterSketch-created bridal designs where our customers vote for their favorite style for a chance to win a gift card prize. Not only does this tactic showcase our creative capabilities, it reaches countless people far beyond our geographic market. The clever campaign has a life of its own!

Check out Jack Lewis Jewelers on Facebook to see more of this clever campaign
Jim Leeds This Means War FB Graphic

 

See how Jim Leeds kicked off this campaign

Why is Custom Design So Important?

We conceive most bridal concepts on CounterSketch, and I use CounterSketch as the proof-of-concept for my client, even if the design is unfinished. There are many facets to our custom design processes. After all, each job is different! I use several avenues of production — each with different facilities — to specialize for the task at hand.

As much as I love CAD/CAM, I still specialize in hand-drawn concepts. I started my art career as an illustrator and painter, so this duality of creative expression allows us to stand apart. We are blessed to have some great companies within our network that have excellent execution on the production side, and we have fantastic goldsmiths on-staff to ensure each job gets handled with care, so every detail reflects our best effort.

Jim Leeds Custom Design

Jim’s creative custom design

More About Jim Leeds

One of my favorite jobs was a non-secret anniversary gift for one of my good clients. She was upgrading her diamond and wanted a new wedding set created to house the stone. With nearly an unlimited budget and no creative restraints, the job was easy and fun for me. I worked very hard to come up with something original that I knew she would love, and the finished product brought her to tears. That WOW-factor never gets old; you’ve got to love those moments!

I have an amazing wife and two incredible daughters. I am a total goofball and nerd. I grew up reading and drawing comic books and have a few industry friends, so that still interests me. Music is another significant part of my life. I played in indie rock bands and worked for an independent record label in the past. I am also an avid Super Smash Bros Melee fan and enjoy their competitive scene. See, I told you I was a nerd! I love life and try not to take things so seriously. Simplicity while remaining passionate seems to work best for me.

Jim Leeds Family Photo

Meet Jim Leeds and his beautiful family

A Final Word from Jim Leeds

My advice to other jewelers would be to approach your job from your heart and remember why we do what we do. Remaining true to your virtues and working hard applies to both personal life and business. Though it sounds corny, it’s absolutely true. Life will most certainly reward you in the end.