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Jewelry That Makes A Difference
Buyer's Choice

These jewelry pieces represent the passion of jewelry designers and retailers to make a difference in their communities. Each beautiful piece helps to fund good works. For the retailers who do best with them, these beautiful symbolic pieces are only the first step. To really make a difference, you need to start conversations, build bonds with local organizations, create events to bring everyone together in support, and market the cause as effectively as you market your businesses. This month, leading retailers share their secrets of selling jewelry that supports a cause. They have raised thousands of dollars to make their communities and the world a better place.

18k gold pendant with white and fancy yellow diamonds

Simon G.’s limited edition, numbered “Lili’s Dream” 18k gold pendant with white and fancy yellow diamonds benefits the Lili Claire Foundation, a non-profit organization that cares for children with neurogenetic conditions, suggested retail $1,870, (800) 627-2661.

14k gold pendant with diamonds on 18-inch chain

Risa Becker, Becker’s Jewelers, Hartford, Connecticut

My charity choice: “We’ve been selling the breast cancer awareness pin from Jane Basch’s ‘Tribute’ collection for six months. It comes in 14k gold with a pink crystal and retails for $225 to $250, of which we donate $100 to the Connecticut Breast Health Initiative. Basch contributes 5 percent of her profits and gives it to the Susan G. Komen for the Cure Foundation and we match that amount.”

How I sell it: “Be passionate about the cause. Have a connection to it and tell your own story if you have one. Extend your store and use it as a platform for the cause, not sales. Create a big event, capped with a cocktail party, and tell invitees that proceeds will go to designated organizations. We have an in-store publicist who makes sure the local newspaper covers it.”

Jane Basch’s 14k gold pendant with diamonds on 18-inch chain from the “Tribute” collection, suggested retail $880, (800) 558-1144,

Ribbon bangle in 14k pink gold and sterling silver with diamonds

Mike Firth, Firth Jewelers, Niagara Falls, New York

My charity choice: “We’ve been selling breast cancer ribbon jewelry from Gabriel & Co. for two or three years. We knew we wanted to sell it right away because a lot of employees here have had somebody in their lives with breast cancer, so this was something close to our hearts. Gabriel donates a percentage of its sale to us, and we donate to breast cancer awareness based on the number of pieces we sell. We give to other charities, in the form of gift certificates or product for raffles, but this is our only in-store charity.”

How I sell it: “We sell bracelets, earrings, and rings, which start at $140 and run up to $595, from a small case-top display near the center of the floor where it’s easy for people to see. We sell many pieces simply from customers walking by, looking at the display and making a quick decision to help the cause.”

Ribbon bangle in 14k pink gold and sterling silver with diamonds from the “Care” collection by Gabriel & Co., suggested retail $837, (800) 886-5422.

14k gold pendant with pink sapphires

Micki Jo Poole, Poole’s Jewelers, Yuba City, California

My charity choice: “We’ve worked with Parlé to supply a 14k white gold ribbon pendant with pink sapphires that we give to breast cancer survivors who model at an annual fashion show we co-sponsor. In October we gave away 18 of them. Parlé provides them to us at a 50 percent discount and we supply the chains.”

How I sell it: “We do not sell them, we give them away. We’ve also worked with Hearts On Fire. Once a year they’ll offer us 50 percent off the price of one of their five or six best-selling pieces and we’ll offer it as a door prize. Again, we do not sell it, it’s a gift to help breast cancer awareness. Both my husband and I feel strongly about this. We both lost our mothers to breast cancer.”

Parlé Jewelry Designs’ 14k gold pendant with pink sapphires, (800) 635-9800,

necklace in 14k gold vermeil with blue topaz

Karen Reiss Staub, Max R. Reiss Jewelers, York, Pennsylvania

My charity choice: “I saw the ‘Ignite’ line from Wendy Culpepper in Modern Jeweler and really thought it was attractive. I’d been looking into different lines that give to charities and I liked how the line contributes to three different charities, including Susan G. Komen for breast cancer, which I feel strongly about. Fifteen percent of the line’s profits go to charity. Culpepper also has a beautiful line separate from her charity line.”

How I sell it: “When you sell charity jewelry you have to contact local organizations that are affiliated with the same goals and host events that make people aware. We had a breast cancer education event in October that we contacted the local media about. I heard women saying how great it was that we were doing our part to help and that they appreciated it. I think people like how it’s not a pink ribbon, so you don’t have to be a breast cancer survivor to wear it.”

Wendy Culpepper’s “Surge” necklace in 14k gold vermeil with blue topaz, suggested retail $117, and 14k gold vermeil and rhodolite rings, suggested retail $67, (212) 629-8161, Fifteen percent is donated to charity.

globe ring with naturally occurring rock crystal formations within rock crystal, diamonds, and Paraiba tourmaline

Ellen Hertz, Max’s Jewelry, St. Louis Park, Minnesota

My charity choice: “We opened in May of 2006 and Vicente Agor’s jewelry was the first purchase we ever made for the store. I felt a real attraction to his jewelry. It’s very pretty without being overly so, and it isn’t frilly. Early in 2008 we began featuring his ‘Antarctica’ collection, which benefits the Antarctica Project. Both of us are passionate about giving back, in this case, 5 percent. One of our biggest sales was an 18k gold snow globe ring of his, with rock crystal, diamonds, and Paraiba tourmaline, that retailed for almost $13,000.”

How I sell it: “Everybody in the store is high on his work, and customers really like him—he’s had three trunk shows already. We sell more of his earrings than anything else. We’ve found that people who like him are almost like collectors. They’ll buy his earrings, then come back soon after to buy a necklace, and so on.”

Vicente Agor’s 18k gold “Antarctica” snow globe ring with naturally occurring rock crystal formations within rock crystal, diamonds, and Paraiba tourmaline, suggested retail $12,380, (415) 863-1770,

charms in Argentium sterling silver

Jennifer Keppel, JK Jewelry, Shelburne, Vermont

My charity choice: “We started carrying Kerin Rose’s jewelry two years ago and her ‘Save Our Strays’ tags six months ago. We’re both advocates of adopting dogs, not shopping for them. We give 100 percent of the proceeds to the local humane society. The tags are sterling silver charms made from reclaimed metal. The charms are heart-shaped, with a smaller heart with wings on the front and the words ‘best friend’ engraved on the back. Some people wear them and others attach them to their dogs’ collars. We display them next to a little description card on an easel in the store window.”

How I sell it: “We’ve found with charity jewelry that if a customer happens to be on the fence about something else, buying one of these charms helps to sell them on the other thing. There’s also an element of everybody being more conscious about doing the right thing in their purchases.”

Kerin Rose’s charms in Argentium sterling silver with all profits to Save Our Strays, suggested retail $50 and $35, (802) 658-8778,

ribbon pendant in sterling silver with pink cubic zirconia on satin cord

Michael Doland, Doland Jewelers, Dubuque, Iowa

My charity choice: “This is our first year with Breuning. We called them right away and contacted local breast cancer charities, such as Breast of Friends in Dubuque, which helps women who can’t afford mammograms. My mother had breast cancer and my sister currently has it. It’s something close to me, and so many of our customers are also affected by it. Some people well up when they see the jewelry. I know there’s a lot of local awareness about breast cancer because I see so many people wearing pink ribbons.”

How I sell it: “We’ve done newspaper ads and also radio spots, as well as a display in the store by the sales counter. We use specially designed cube displays to show the necklaces along with breast cancer awareness pamphlets. We’ve added a chain in the back so that people can vary the necklace lengths. The price point is $150, of which we donate $50 to charity.”

“Breuning Cares” ribbon pendant in sterling silver with pink cubic zirconia on satin cord supports breast cancer research, suggested retail $99, (866) 872-2842,

butterfly ballet pendant in 14k gold

Julie Lorimer, Siebke Hoyt, Cedar Rapids, Iowa

My charity choice: “We sell Stuller’s ‘Butterfly Ballet’ pendants on behalf of ovarian cancer. A great client of ours is a cousin of the pendant’s designer, whose wife is the pendant’s inspiration. Closer to home, we lost a great friend and colleague to breast cancer, so any cause devoted to prevention and awareness is important to us. We’ve also heard many touching stories from our customers.”

How I sell it: “When we do publicized events, we give a minimum of 10 percent to the selected charity. We use newspaper ads, but we’ve also done live remotes or tied events to customer appreciation parties. If possible, we time the event around an awareness month. If there’s a collection, we display different items together so it can tell a story. When staff members wear the merchandise, clients notice and ask about it. We also do a newspaper ad or a postcard flier announcing that we are now carrying the merchandise.”

Stuller’s butterfly ballet pendant designed by Michael Maixner in 14k gold, suggested retail $188, (800) 877-7777,

ribbon necklace in sterling silver with resin heart

Nancy Anderson, Caravan of Dreams, Arcata, California

My charity choice: “We started selling Baroni, including their breast cancer awareness jewelry collection, which is mostly bracelets and necklaces with words on them like hope or courage. The prices run $50 to $55, which helps us track popularity by style rather than price point.”

How I sell it: “This year we combined a charity event on behalf of the Humboldt county Breast Health Project with a children’s charity event that brought a lot of people to the plaza our store fronts. We were twice as busy as last year and were able to give the BHP a larger check than the year before, 10 percent of our sales that day. We don’t ask their reasons when people buy the jewelry, but we can tell when somebody is buying for a personal reason and when somebody is shopping to help the BHP.”

Baroni Designs’ ribbon necklace in sterling silver with resin heart benefits the Humboldt county Breast Health Project, suggested retail $58, (800) 550-8942,

ribbon charm bracelet in oxidized sterling silver

Patty Turner, Grayson Allen Fine Jewelers, Southlake, Texas

My charity choice: “The ribbon charm bracelet is a handmade sterling silver chain Liz Donahue designed in honor of a cousin who was diagnosed with breast cancer. We launched it in October and it’s a gorgeous bracelet. Donahue donates part of the sale she makes to retailers. We retail it at $225 and donate 10 percent to our county’s Susan G. Komen affiliate. We recently gave Komen a $5,000 check. We’ve carried the Starhaven line for more than two years.”

How I sell it: “We hold a lot of charity-related events that are not public, but are designed to give buyers a nice evening out—Texas hold ’em poker nights for the guys; girls’ nights out; couples’ nights; martini parties. We always tie it to a charity and give 10 percent of the proceeds. We advertised in a monthly lifestyle magazine, with the ribbon charm and the slogan, ‘Together, We Can Make a Difference.’ It gets personal, too: A woman who recently came to us looking for a 15th anniversary piece came back later to look at the breast cancer bracelet. She revealed that she’d been diagnosed with breast cancer and was due to undergo a double mastectomy.”

Starhaven’s ribbon charm bracelet in oxidized sterling silver, suggested retail $225, (972) 819-2030,