Jewelers hope to add ‘sparkle’ to sales

A citywide promotion aims to put the shine back on jewelers’ profits despite the recession.

Called Sparkle Week, the promotion sponsored by the National Jewelry Institute will run April 20-26 with events at about 15 jewelry stores around the city, including William Barthman and Greenwich Jewelers in Lower Manhattan.

“It would be nice if businesses down here can weather the economic storm together,” said Renee Kopel, director of sales and marketing at William Barthman on Broadway.

She will offer discounts — including 50 percent off some diamond jewelry — and special events such as a sparkling wine tasting at the store April 22 co-sponsored with California Wine Merchants. Kopel is also planning a raffle for Yankees tickets and a crystal paperweight.

Kopel hopes the events draw traffic to her store, which has been too quiet lately. The financial sector layoffs mean fewer high-earning workers Downtown to buy jewelry, and tourist business has fallen off since the euro dropped relative to the dollar.

“It just all hit at the same time,” said Kopel, who estimates she’s down 25 percent.

William Barthman laid off six workers and extended their days and hours, and Kopel is focusing on buying lower-priced items to sell. The Tiffany store that opened nearby a year and a half ago and sells many similar items isn’t helping either, Kopel said. Tiffany has not yet announced any plans to participate in the event.

Jennifer Gandia, an owner of Greenwich Jewelers on Trinity Pl., said she’s noticed a bit of a slowdown but nothing devastating. Her gift, bridal and children’s sales are all steady, though fewer people are buying treats for themselves, she said.

Since the store is doing alright, Gandia decided to focus on philanthropy for Sparkle Week and run a weeklong silent auction in her store. Seven jewelry designers each donated a piece, and the proceeds will go to charities the designers choose. The pieces are all worth at least $500, but the starting bids will be only $20.09, Gandia said.

Gandia also plans to launch two new fashion jewelry lines and expand the store’s bridal area for Sparkle Week.

“We want to make people feel good,” said Lucia Suljic, vice president of the National Jewelry Institute, of the week’s purpose. “And what better way than to make them sparkle?”

— Julie Shapiro