BAJ Insight: Why are jewellery shops becoming places to eat?

BAJ Insight: Why are jewellery shops becoming places to eat?

Join us for our weekly BAJ:Insight on the latest industry trends by Rachael Taylor, a freelance journalist who writes about jewellery for a number of titles, including The Financial Times, The Jewellery Editor and Retail Jeweller. In her 10 years reporting on the industry, she has travelled the globe to visit key industry fairs, descended a Fairtrade gold mine on top of a Peruvian mountain, toured silver jewellery factories in Thailand, and regularly has access to the most sparkling jewels and people in the business.

The news that Tiffany & Co has opened a restaurant at its New York flagship store might surprise some, but not me. Though coffee and diamonds are product categories with stratospheric differences, their unison is one that is crucial to the future of the jewellery industry.

Over the past decade, it has become popular to install a bar in jewellery shops. Scottish chain Rox was one of the first to do it, with lavish Laurent-Perrier-sponsored bars that served up champagne and nibbles all throughout opening hours for absolutely no cost at all to delighted shoppers. The thinking behind these bars is that if people are spending longer in the store and having a good time (as well as building up some Dutch courage), they are likely to spend more. The stores’ tagline of Diamonds & Thrills perfectly captures this idea.

I have myself spent a jolly afternoon or two sipping champagne in the Rox bar in Glasgow, and on one occasion took a friend along with me. She left with an or derplaced for two wedding bands – something she had no intention of doing when we entered (we were unashamedly there for the free booze).

Now jewellers like Tiffany & Co are taking a step beyond offering a bit of fizz. After all, who doesn’t offer a glass of something nice to a shopper considering spending a significant sum? It’s old hat. The new trend is for restaurants, offering fully blown meals, as well as consultations on jewellery purchases.

I’ve been spending time recently a hybrid jewellery shop and restaurant in Brighton. On the ground floor, you’ll find jewels by the likes of Astley Clarke and Shaun Leane in Pressley’s (a jeweller that also has other stores in Worthing and Chichester), but ascend the stairs and you’ll discover its restaurant 1909, serving up small plates and organic wines.

Unlike the champagne bars of yore, you have to pay up for these experiences, yet people are happy to do it. It works for many reasons. People have two reasons to visit a store – food or jewels – and this can widen the audience. It also ensures a longer stay time, in an environment that doesn’t come with a pressured sales pitch. Plus, it creates the experiences that consumers want now. We are greedy these days. We don’t just want to walk away from a shop with a product, we want to leave with a memory. And perhaps a full belly.