Marianne Fisher, of established dealer Paul Fisher, explains how a small group of vintage jewelry experts launched an online platform, the Jewelers Circle, to make B2B trading more seamless and efficient.
Jewelry Connoisseur Podcast – Episode 5 – Season 2
Welcome to the Jewelry Connoisseur podcast. And now your host, Sonia Esther Soltani.
Welcome to the Jewelry Connoisseur podcast, a podcast for people in the jewelry industry that want to learn more and jewelry lovers, that want to expand their knowledge. Here we talk about everything that has to do with vintage and antique jewelry.
I am your host, Sonia Esther Soltani, the editor in chief of Rapaport. I am editing a monthly magazine that covers everything from mining to retail. I'm also the editor of Jewelry Connoisseur, an online magazine, the same name as this podcast and an Instagram account called Rapaport Jewelry Pro, on which we share information about gemstones, estate jewelry and contemporary design., with five other dealers, in:
Sonia: Hi, Marianne. Today Marianne is with us to talk about The Jewelers Circle, new digital platform for estate and vintage jewelry.
Marianne: Hi, my name is Marianne Fisher. I'm from Paul Fisher Jewelry originally and now a jewelers circle. I'm a co-founder and managing director of this B2B platform for the exquisite, rare and unusual jewelry and gemstones.
Sonia: So how did you start the Jewelers Circle? Because we know the industry is quite slow at embracing digital changes and platforms. So what was the motivation to create this specific group?started it all back in March:
Sonia: And I think that's something that was very important for you, that everyone has to be vetted. So from this group of six dealers that know each other very well, and it's a small world and people have reputations that they've established. You are fifth-generation at Paul Fisher. People know each other very well. How have you expanded the network? How many exhibitors do you have?
Marianne: I think 175 is probably a correct number on the network of dealers. Everyone has been vetted, everyone goes through a process of checking to see their background if they're showing inventory. So it's basically the same concept as a show. Everyone takes a booth, but it's virtual and it's the same idea that when somebody comes to a show, which would be the visitor, the retailer, they go in, they transact and they contact the person directly and they go and visit that booth and they speak directly with the owners. So if you're interested in a piece, the discussion goes direct. We don't get involved. The transaction is between the agreements of payment, agreements of delivery that it's all done between the buyer and the seller. Really we're just a tool for the trade. That's what we decided. We want to help the trade. We don't want to try to take advantage. We want to make it easier to do business, not have to wait to go to a trade show or have to fly all the way to Taipei to sell a stone. Obviously sometimes maybe the person wants to see it. So you make an agreement on the shipping. We have an amazing deal with Ferrari Shipping. They're so kind. Anything shipped with them, they'll use their offices to show and view the piece in their offices for free. So if there is perhaps some beautiful Kashmir sapphire in New York and the retailer in Taipei would like to see it, they'll ship it to the office in Ferrari and the customer, the retailer can come in and view it in their offices, on the premises and that's all worldwide for free.latform since you launched in:
Marianne: This is our newest and one we're most excited about. So it's called Shared Galleries. Basically, it is virtual memo. So say I'm a retailer in Arkansas and I have a customer who really loves Art Deco bracelets. You can go on to the platform and pick Art Deco bracelets from several different exhibitors. And of course, you have to have the permission if the person has to offer the piece to be allowed for Shared Galleries, which is a virtual memo. But you can go in and pull several different Deco bracelets into your watch list. Then you can change the price and send the link to your private client. And what's great about this is the private client will never know who the source is and the source will never know your private client, but you'll get all the information that everyone else sees on the inventory page. You'll get the videos, you'll get the front view, back view, the certificates if they're available. You can just make a virtual memo to anywhere you want to any of your clients. So you're basically offering your sourcing special pieces for your clients at a fingertip. Instead of having to do this waste of money and insurance and shipping, you can actually just do it virtually. So basically it's a great advantage for a retailer because all the pieces that they're taking from The Jewelers Circle to show their clients are not accessible on the Internet. If you have a piece that they buy for 5,000 and you're selling it for 7,500 to your private, they can't go and Google it and say, oh, find it on Jewelers Circle. No, those prices are private. It's a secure private network, which is a great advantage for the trade. It gives an opportunity. Whereas today everything is all over the Internet. If you buy something from an auction house, the price is there and it doesn't go away. So nobody wants to feel. I paid more than 10% for something, so it's a great advantage the privacy.
Sonia: And is very interesting because I think what you try to do is to really have a big connection between the exhibitors and you have different devices to keep the conversation going between the exhibitors, the retailers and the exhibitors between themselves. Can you tell us a bit more about all the different services you offer your members?
Marianne: One thing I want to point out is we are the trade. So we built this for the trade. Everything we did, we built for thinking in mind of the best interest of our exhibitors and visitors because it facilitates and helps us as an industry. So we have several ways we can communicate, obviously with email, we can communicate with a chat on the platform, communicate by text, and we can communicate by WhatsApp. We also have made it to facilitate videos. We can post several photos of images. One of the greatest features that we did create is also posting calls. Retailer and exhibitor can post calls and answer calls. So if somebody in Taipei, for example, is looking for an eight-carat Burma ruby, pigeon blood, they can post it onto the platform on the home page and everyone can see it. Maybe you don't want everybody to know your call so you can post it either to the entire platform or to what we call your circle. And your circle would be your trusted dealers that you like to work with. You can go and answer the call, perhaps you say, Oh, I have an eight carat. It gets directed right to the person who sent the call and you can upload photos when you're looking for a call. So in other words, if someone says, I have this Deco bracelet, we sold it, somebody else wants one like it. You can upload the photo and say, does anyone else have something like this? We also have what's called the 24-hour best offer. So say you have something you bought really inexpensive and you pay like $1,000, but maybe it's worth $2,500. So you put it on the platform at $1,000 and other dealers can bid on it for 24 hours. So say maybe all of a sudden says, oh, wow, I'll give 1,100, then someone else's, I'll get 12. So it's kind of like a mini auction on the platform that's good for 24 hours and at the end of the expiration, you sell it to the highest bidder. Then we also have a WhatsApp group chat group for very quick immediate sales. So that group, whoever likes to participate only for exhibitors, they can quickly take a picture with their phone, post it and it's for immediate sale. Same idea of doing a quick deal like you would at a trade show fast. Bought it sold it, bought it sold it. And the new listings being posted constantly on the home page. So people maybe get ideas for maybe for customers and end to sell and to network. And that's the best part. The platform is international and being international from all over the world. It makes a very big difference for those living in Asia that where there is a huge demand for vintage. It can access the platform while we're all sleeping and try to buy something. So it's a nice way to network worldwide.
Sonia: I think you have also big expansion plans in terms of the whole world and people who can't travel yet.
Marianne: We're very excited because we just made a deal with a Chinese government organization that deals in jewelry and gemstones. They will be building a website in Chinese, will take from The Jewelers Circle the merchandise and translate it and show it in China. So it's government backed so that we don't have any worries of any problems because we're doing everything correct and they will import the merchandise. But what's great is all the pieces on Jewelers Circle, if you choose to have it on their website, will be posted in Chinese on their network. And we believe it's going to create a lot of sales. And that we're really looking for our exhibitors because I think a lot of old friends will be someone's new treasure in China. And I think what's great is they'll pay for it up front. Nothing will be shipped out unless pays is paid for in full and then everything gets shipped out. But I believe is going to bring a whole new avenue for selling for the Jewelers Circle.
Sonia: Especially as this Chinese market has a big hunger for luxury exclusive goods. Even more during the lockdown and not being able to go anywhere and I think, you know, it's a bit of a boost as well to buy beautiful jewelry.
Marianne: Yeah, they've always loved jewelry as a whole, invest in jewelry. But the truth is they have a real appreciation for vintage and they really love and there's so many people there. So it's an emerging market which we want to be there, we want to be there to be able to sell. And it's also they want to have a network they can trust, because what's scary is selling merchandise that's not correctly described or that's accurate or is what they say it is. Reproductions, for example. And I think knowing where it comes from, being the Jewelers Circle, which is a group of reputable dealers, they are very happy to work with us because they know they're buying from a source that they can trust. And even if there is an issue, they know it will be backed and be guaranteed that they'll never be a problem that always can return if there's something wrong. You're buying from somewhere where you can trust the authenticity. And I think that's a huge factor today. I think people want to be able to trust when they don't understand something, they want to be able to trust and have faith that there's going to be correct. I didn't mention before, but one of our partners, Olivier Bachet from Palais Royal, he's from the Société des Expertises in Paris, and he makes certificates for authenticating the jewelry. And so most of the pieces will go through either a full report or a small authenticity document to prove that the piece is correct, that they can count it when they buy it. I'm in business now 33 years. My father was 72 years. And as he said, you're still learning something new every day because when it comes to vintage, you're talking about hundreds of years of craftsmanship. It's a lot to learn and a lot to understand about what's old, what's not, what's Deco, what's correct. And it takes experts who've spent years looking at this kind of merchandise, to be able to trust where they're buying.
The Jewelry Connoisseur Podcast will be back after this break.
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Sonia: The market seems very optimistic, as we're recording this podcast GemGenève is about to happen and people are very excited. The last edition in November was already a success. So where do you see the market right now in terms of the demand and the desire for these more exclusive, unique pieces?a ruby diamond bracelet from:
Sonia: Absolutely. And tell me, Marianne, another show hasn't started yet, but what would be in your ideal jewelry box.
Marianne: To me to buy or what I have already.
Sonia: To buy. I'm sure you have a beautiful collection already. So in this 30 years, are there any pieces that got away or anything that you feel? I still want to know a bit more about this one and I would like to have it.ve it because what it was was:
Sonia: Absolutely. And I think for people who haven't joined The Jewelers Circle yet, I would encourage first to have a look, to check your social media, to attend some of the webinars, the educational webinars that are not closed to the members, but that open to everyone. And you can learn a lot from them. You know, you have key dealers sharing their knowledge the same way as you've done with us today, Marianne. So I would encourage everyone to come and follow and learn with you the expertise and the knowledge of estate jewelry.
Marianne: And I wanted to add one last thing, because we are for the trade. Everyone who has joined us this first year, they came along with us and gave trusted in us and took a chance with us, we've created the revenue share of founders. So basically anyone who joins this first year will become a founding shareholder of Jewelers Circle and we'll share every year in the revenue 10% of the revenue. So because we want to make people feel they're part of the platform, if we grow, they grow with us. And it's a thank you to all our founding shareholders.
Sonia: Thanks for your time, Marianne. That was really interesting and I hope the people from the trade will appreciate if they don't know The Jewelers Circle, they've learned and they want to be part of this adventure, whether they're exhibitors or retailers.
Marianne: Okay, great. Thank you so much for having us.
Thanks for having joined us on this latest episode of the Jewelry Connoisseur podcast, you can find us on Spotify, Apple Podcasts, Google and YouTube. If you like this podcast, give us your feedback and make sure that you subscribe so you won’t miss any single episode. You also can find information on estate and antique jewelry on jewelryconnoisseur.net