Net Profits: Moving Your Jewelry on Instagram

By Cathleen McCarthy

Many jewelers have used Instagram to build a massive fan base at lightning speed. Often – but not always – they are of the generation who grew up with the Internet, can sniff out the next social media racehorse and gallop away before the rest of make it into the saddle.

Jewelers who’ve used Instagram to jumpstart their business include Digby & Iona (32,000 followers) and Dannijo (138,000 followers). Brooklyn jeweler Aaron Ruff of Digby & Iona posts unfiltered shots once a day, of loose stones and new designs, usually on his own bench-roughened hand. As I write this, he has scored 1,000 likes and 52 comments on a photo of a ring posted a few hours ago, designed around with an uncut octahedral diamond. If it hasn’t sold by now, I’m shocked.

Ruff does not negotiate sales directly in the comments, but plenty of people ask – and are answered quickly. “How much for one of these?” someone asked about another piece last week, a signet ring from a production line. Pricing and details are on the site, they are told. “Are there any more?” someone else asks. So far, that signet ring, shot without filter on Ruff’s hand, complete with tattoo and hangnails, has 815 likes and 50+ comments.

How did Ruff amass this kind of reaction? He is creative with his jewelry, consistent and responsive with his posts, and doesn’t try too hard. He lets the jewelry speak for itself, and it’s found its following.

His studio also happens to be in a hip neighborhood in Brooklyn, above a gallery, and easy to access. Part of his following is clearly local. “Gonna do my best to come visit that ring today,” someone posts.

Lest you decide you must be a Brooklyn hipster and social media maven to master Instagram, let me introduce you to Lenore Dailey. When Lenore stumbled onto Instagram a year ago, she’d been selling estate jewelry for a couple decades and never used social media – no Facebook, no Twitter, no Pinterest.

Now she has nearly 22,000 followers on Instagram, many of whom buy from her. She includes prices in her descriptions, something you don’t see often on Instagram, and encourages interested commenters to direct message (DM) her.

Lenore still shows at antique jewelry shows, but these days, she posts live from those shows – images and descriptions of the jewels in her booth – and probably sells as much that way as she does at the show.

She also started holding sales parties she under the hashtag #lenoreparty. Jewelry bloggers and other Instagram queens get into the spirit and, by the time Lenore’s parties start, she has a huge buzz going.

Guests are encouraged to “dress up” and post Instagram photos of the jewelry they’re wearing. Click on the hashtag and you’ll find these as well as the jewels Lenore offered for sale that night –some of which sold for a couple thousand or more, some of which she practically gave away – in exchange for contact info. Among other things, Lenore has built her email list substantially with these parties.

Why not create your own hashtag and hold a jewelry sales party? Or find some other creative way to take advantage of this amazing marketing tool.


CATHLEEN MCCARTHY is a freelance writer whose stories about jewelry, art, and business appear in dozens of magazines and newspapers, and on her own site, The Jewelry Loupe. Follow her on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and Pinterest.

NET PROFITS is a regular feature about using the Internet for jewelry selling of special interest to those with a home-based jewelry business that appears in Lapidary Journal Jewelry Artist. Learn more in “Give ‘Em Credit.”


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