Rachael Taylor on balancing tradition with modern retail techniques.

Finding a balance between competitive pricing and providing an in-store experience when selling diamond jewellery has been a problem that has left many retailers searching for a solution.

In April we published an article on the subject titled Clicks vs. Bricks that attracted a lot of feedback from our readers, many of who got in touch to join in the debate.


One of the people to contact me after reading the article was Peter Lunn, who many of you will know as a founding director of Houlden Group and owner of leading Belfast jeweller Lunns. The article struck a particular cord with Peter because it so perfectly captured the essence of his, until now, relatively low-key project Portfolio of Fine Diamonds.

You can find out in depth about the business in our in-depth feature on the company originally published in the June issue within our Jewellery Week special, but the gist is that it is harnessing the power of the web and competitive pricing while managing to keep hold of the element that bricks-and-mortar jewellers hold dear – welcoming customers into the shop.

It does this by providing a wealth of information online but asking shoppers to click and reserve. As for the lower prices, a large element of that is the requirement that retailers cut their margins, which will no doubt divide retailers.

The reason that I made the trip over to Belfast to find out more about the Portfolio of Fine Diamonds business model is because it appears to offer a solution to many of the issues that we debate here at Professional Jeweller – competing with online retailers, reinvigorating diamond jewellery sales and moving traditional retail businesses forward.

This theme of how to evolve a traditional business is one that pops up a few times in the June issue, most notably in our feature on WB Creative Jewellery Group that documents our recent trip to Birmingham to witness just how that heritage business is moving with the times and blossoming.

Jewellery retailing is a very old, very traditional trade and while we might all look to cutting-edge retail practices for inspiration, the truth is that it often has little direct relevance to, say, a county jeweller. But with people in the industry like Peter, or even Pursuit with its new iPad sales equipment, offering a helping hand even the most classic of companies can stay fresh but stay true.


This article was taken from the June 2012 issue of Professional Jeweller magazine. To read a digital version of this issue click here.