A successful jewelry business revolves more around emotions than it does around transactions. After all, it isn’t the particular piece that matters as much as the occasion it represents. Whether it is a birthday, anniversary, engagement, graduation, or any other meaningful moment, the treasure chosen to celebrate it becomes an icon of sentimentality.
Peter Ball, owner of Peter Franklin, explains this dynamic. “It doesn’t matter how much something costs,” he says. “Every piece makes a difference to someone.”
Accordingly, Ball believes that the customer experience is the foundation of any successful jewelry business. That means, he says, going above and beyond in all areas, starting with the store environment itself. Each of his three Peter Franklin locations, for example, offers soft lighting, a comfortable seating area, and a stocked bar.
“When someone comes in,” says Ball, “we like to speak to their senses. It’s important for customers to know that they’re special.”
In Ball’s opinion, there is no such thing as an ideal customer. Jewelry should speak to an occasion or an emotion rather than a particular demographic. In order to serve people of all ages and from all walks of life, a jeweler must offer a broad range of quality merchandise. From widely popular and inexpensive Pandora jewelry to custom pieces that can cost as much as tens of thousands of dollars, Peter Franklin stores can serve any style and price range.
“We’re very focused on what people need, and we’re flexible,” says Ball. “We have a big selection of pretty much anything.”
Having a qualified staff is another key element of Ball’s above-and-beyond service model. Peter Franklin, for example, boasts five goldsmiths whose collective experience approaches one hundred years. Joining them is also a certified gemologist, three CAD custom designers, a watchmaker and many team members certified in diamond grading.
“The difference between us and others is the amount of training and knowledge we have,” says Ball. “Not every jeweler has that.”
That kind of expertise also allows a jeweler to repair and restore jewelry that customers bring into the store. It doesn’t matter what a piece is worth monetarily; Ball will repair it if it is possible.
“If we can repair it, we’re going to fix it if it’s worth it to the customer,” says Ball. “It’s the sentimental value that makes it special. We treat every piece as being priceless.”
Ensuring the quality of its merchandise is also key to a jeweler’s success. Ball and his team have visited suppliers in South Africa and Antwerp, Belgium, as well as diamond cutters in India, China, and Israel. Once, Ball even went overseas to personally pick out a diamond for a customer’s ring.
“It’s not easy to grasp a diamond and what makes it valuable,” explains Ball. “There are so many kinds of quality variations that a one carat diamond could be worth $1,900 or $19,000. We work hard to make sure our jewelry is properly valued for our customers.”
Building lasting relationships with customers demands much more than selection, expertise, and quality, however. Most importantly, it requires creating meaningful experiences that ultimately keeps customers coming back. Ball and his team have spent the last thirty years creating those kinds of stories.
Senior Designer Dave Konkle recalls a time when a customer wanted to upgrade his wife’s wedding ring to celebrate a special anniversary. To make it memorable, Konkle arranged a private viewing after hours at a Peter Franklin Jewelers location. After the store had closed, Konkle shut down the entire showroom except the bridal area, where he had set up a tray of chocolate covered strawberries and a bottle of wine. The couple enjoyed a romantic moment while selecting the ring that would symbolize their renewed commitment to one another.
Another time, Ball remembers a young girl who had been diagnosed with terminal cancer. She had expressed an interest in goldsmithing, so her mother asked Ball if the girl could watch him work. Instead, he invited her to spend a day with him in his New Haven location. Ball helped the girl work with gold scrap, melting it into bracelets to realize her dream.
On yet another occasion, Konkle worked with a woman who was shopping for a special watch to commemorate her husband’s thirtieth birthday. She was a return customer with whom Konkle had already developed a relationship, so when she shared that she wanted to find a special way to present the watch, Konkle made an unusual suggestion. Because he has a pilot’s license, he offered to fly the
couple to a restaurant in Michigan. During the flight, the woman surprised her husband with the watch.
“It was a great experience for all of us,” says Konkle.
With three decades of experience, stories like these have become the norm for Peter Franklin Jewelers, born from Ball’s simple formula for success.
“I just love what I do and want to be good at it,” says Ball. “And for anyone who comes through our doors, I want whatever happens to be a good experience. That’s what I’ve always tried to do — take care of people.”
That kind of care and concern builds relationships and keeps people coming back. It’s also what draws in their children and grandchildren over time.
“Customers become friends over the years,” says Ball. “Whatever they buy, they know they don’t have anything to worry about. We’re going to take care of them.” FWL
Owner(s): Pete Ball & James Ball
Address: 1111 E. Dupont Road Fort Wayne, Indiana 46825
Phone: (260) 489-8984
Years in Business: 31
Number of Employees: 30
Products & Services: Jewelry sales and service, including custom design, repair, and appraisals.