Our guest on this week’s Uninterrupted episode is Katerina Perez, a globetrotting jewelry aficionado and an authoritative voice in the global gems and jewelry industry. With over 12 years of experience, her knowledge spans from retail sales and management to content creation, brand building, jewelry writing, and styling.
Was working in the jewelry industry an obvious career choice for you?
I think it has been an obvious choice. For the last 12 years, I've been working with jewelry. However, my appreciation for jewelry goes back to when I was a little child. My favourite hobby was playing with my grandmother's jewelry; necklaces, earrings, and bracelets. When I was already writing on my website, my mom showed me a picture of me when I was three years old all covered in jewels. I believe it was meant to be from the very beginning of my life!
What was your thought behind taking high jewelry online?
At the beginning of Katerinaperez.com, I had no plan. It started when I was working in retail, I remember my clients would come to buy a piece of jewelry and they would only ask about the price and the carat weight of the jewelry, they didn't look at the craftsmanship and the originality of the idea. Sometimes it takes so long to develop a theme for a piece of jewelry or figuring out ideas to make the jewelry unique, using all different techniques which also costs money and is time-consuming, it should be taken into consideration. I wanted to change that and give an informal education to anyone out there who is interested in jewelry. So, that's how I found my website, and this is why I started writing online. I wanted to showcase high jewelry because to me it is a beautiful form of art like painting sculptures.
Is your jewelry deeply influenced by your travels?
For me traveling allows me to discover different cultures and look at culture through the lens of jewelry. I'm always hungry to learn about what’s new to discover. What's interesting is that every country has its own take on jewelry design. For example, Italians love gold & vibrant gemstones, Asians like dainty designs with a complex loop, the people in France like fine pieces that are an addition to you & Americans like big diamonds. It's interesting to rediscover how people style jewelry in different regions in different countries, and how designers reflect those in their jewelry.
What should be the brand’s focus during this pandemic?
The main focus should be on how to adjust to the current situation, expand online, figure out what tools to use to make their brand presence more noticeable, map out a way to communicate with clients who can't physically be present, master all the different applications like Instagram, Zoom & WhatsApp to communicate with your clients and focus on being personal; choose quality over quantity, don't try to serve 100 clients at a time, but focus on 10 who really are there and interested. A lot of negative things came along with COVID but there have been quite positive impacts not just in the jewelry industry, but overall, it helped us to see things and do things differently, which I believe for every business in every industry is essential.
Do you have some advice for brands to tell their story better?
Having a personal presence in your communication is imperative, when people go to brick-and-mortar boutiques, they see the jewelry, fall in love & get them. They don't really care who's behind the brand. During this pandemic they can't easily go, see and fall in love, they have to buy it on the internet and that requires building trust between the clients and the brands first. If we talk about Instagram or even an online boutique, they must convey their story in pictures and show who is behind the brand to establish a connection, and the strong bond will lead to sales much more than just following a company who you don't really know or who you can't connect with. So that's why personal presence is so important.
What is your take on retailing virtually? Do you think virtual retail will ever take over physical retail completely?
I think it's been there for a while, just on a smaller scale. Now, it's more prominent. We are lucky that in the jewelry industry, it's not super difficult to sell online. If you see it online, and if you see it worn by the model, you can understand the dimension, the volume & figure out of how it's gonna look. The disadvantage is that it's costly. They really need to make sure that what they buy is truly what it is. So that's where I emphasized the importance of this trust and knowing this person you buy from. Virtual retail won't take over physical retail completely, although the current situation opened new doors, and we understood that jewelry can be purchased online from the comfort of your home. I wouldn't say that it will ever substitute for going and seeing jewelry in real life before buying. But surely, I believe that when things go back to normal, we'll see much more online sales than before.What is your take on the role of immersive technologies in the businesses of jewelry brands?
It's a great solution because we sometimes don't have time to go to the store to try something. Maybe we want to buy something from a brand that is not present in our city or country. It definitely helps the consumer to understand better how the jewelry would look and what they're purchasing. It also allows us to dream; if I'm a young girl hoping to own jewelry one day, I can try it on now & imagine how I'm gonna look in the future. Dreams can become a reality depending on how much you want them & maybe one day; she'll be your client.What about a particular brand or a designer makes you go back to them for your next purchase?
I think the style of the jewelry that they create; the shape, volume & colours. What gemstones do they use? How do they play with them? Do they have modern designs or classical? Are they trying to offer some new ways of wearing jewelry? All these factors fascinate me & what's also interesting is how a designer or a brand will come up with a theme and how will they translate it into a piece of jewelry? Because mostly a jewel is an emotional purchase. If we don't buy an investment piece, we buy a piece of jewelry because we love it. For example, if I'm a fan of roses, I would buy a jewel inspired by a Rose just because it emotionally connects with me.
Any tips for the brands in fashion jewelry?
It is recommended to really embrace online sales power because where the price point of jewelry is below $10,000, sales occur much faster. Customers can buy it by just looking at the picture on Instagram or their website. Jewelers need to look into different ways of leading the customer from the beginning of their interest to the end when they actually make that purchase. I think many brands are missing out on the opportunity to use Instagram as a means of selling. It would be best if you didn't believe that it's enough to post a picture and then wait there for purchase when because, in reality, the process is much more complex.In your opinion, are there any common mistakes that jewelry brands should avoid?
I think more emphasis should be on the customer journey and building the relationship. For example, sales personnel in a jewelry boutique might judge people on how they're dressed and wouldn't give them 100% of the attention because they assume that this person isn't capable of buying an expensive jewel, which I personally never cared about! Also, don't miss out on educating your clients. In the past, there was a lot of emphasis on the jewelry's price & carats. But not enough emphasis on explaining the creative process, describing how hard it is to find gemstones & going into detail about what is the difference between different gems & why they're so precious.What kind of brands & brand ambassadors do you partner with?
It's important to find a brand representative who has the same values as your brand, whose tone of voice and self-presentation you like & someone who can potentially be appealing to your target audience. If you're a brand targeting more younger people, it can be a celebrity, singer, or fashion model. If it's a high art jewelry brand, it can be someone more mature, someone, you'd like to sell your jewelry to in the future. As far as the kinds of brands we partner with are concerned, I always stick to my values and taste regardless of me being approached very often by brands who create silver jewelry or fashion jewelry, which I have nothing against. Still, I don't think I have the right followers for that kind of jewelry. It's essential to really curate what you show, who you represent, who you associate with because it directly reflects your brand's integrity and values.Where do you think the Indian jewelry market is headed?
The tastes in the Indian jewelry market are shifting from traditional Indian jewelry to exploring other styles and other ways of wearing jewelry. I know how much jewelry means to people in India. If they can explore different designs, it can become an essential part of daily life; that would be great for women to feel beautiful and for brands to make more sales and the jewelry industry in general. I believe that the jewelry and gems industry is heading to be more tailored and curated with more appreciation of the quality of gemstones & the craftsmanship of ideas.The most unique gemstone that you've ever come across.
What’s your one top tip for budding jewelry writers and one tip for jewelry photographers?
For the writers, to study jewelry in more detail & come up with new inspirations for the articles, and for the photographers to see jewelry in a new light and forget about conventional photos & be playful with jewelry.What are the three elements of custom jewelry that designers should be most careful of?
Understand the client's idea & translate it into jewelry, stick to their budget and aim to exceed the expectations of the clients.
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