Larger Stores Selling Branded Jewellery Performing Well In The US: Jonathan Zadok

With a family legacy of 45 years behind it, Zadok Jewelry, today retails over 60 prestigious fine jewellery and watch brands through its newly opened store along with a fully revamped e-commerce website. Seventh-generation jeweller Jonathan Zadok in an exclusive interview with Liza Foreman speaks about the retail landscape in the USA.

Based in downtown Houston, Texas, the big news at Zadok Jewelers, the family-run business now in its seventh generation, is a move this March into new premises that measure 28,000-square-feet.

The company carries over 60 fine jewellery and luxury brands, including Cartier and Omega. Meanwhile, in what Zadok describes as one of the boldest moves for any independent jeweller in the US in the last two decades, the new location, next door to its old shop, includes four in-store boutiques for watch brands Jaeger-LeCoultre, IWC Schaffhausen, Vacheron Constantin and A. Lange & Sohne.

Solitaire spoke with Jonathan Zadok, partner at Zadok Jewelers, about the Indian and US jewellery businesses.

Jonathan Zadok, Courtesy of Zadok

What defines your company?

We are family oriented with long-term employees. My family, along with our staff, are part of the local community and make sincere efforts to support it continuously through community-oriented events in the store and offsite. We make it our business to know our clientele and offer high quality products, service, and a massive selection at fair prices.

What are some recent highlights?

It’s hard to say. We just moved into our new store, which is 28,000 square feet. It took many years to get to this point.  While it was bittersweet to leave the original store next door that we occupied for 45 years, being in the new location now is very rewarding.

What is the current state of the US retail industry for jewellery? 

I think it’s a mix. The larger stores with well-known, in-demand branded jewellery and watch products that have a marketing budget appear to be doing well and getting stronger. Unfortunately, the smaller mom-and-pop stores seem to be suffering. The stock market has been doing well and the government stimulus is causing large amounts of money to flow into the system. Rather than spending on luxury and entertainment, the population is spending their money on luxury goods.

How has the pandemic affected your business? 

It has certainly been a roller coaster ride. The first four months of the pandemic were very tough and stressful.  We had no idea when we would be able to reopen and what the landscape would look like by the time we did.  The last few months of the year were strong and helped us have a better 2020 than 2019. If you would have projected those results in the summer of 2020, I would have thought you were crazy.

Zadok showroom interiors

What is the price range of the pieces you sell? 

We sell items from a few hundred dollars to multi-million-dollar pieces. For us, it’s about quality and being able to offer our clients items within a large range of prices but always of high quality.

How competitive is the US market for jewellery? 

It’s incredibly competitive. The margins on jewellery, especially diamonds, have been eroded for years.  Frankly, with loose diamonds becoming a relative commodity, it’s getting harder and harder to make money on them. When you factor in the high cost of inventory, size of the inventory needed in order to represent the broad selection clients are looking for, volatility, and incredibly low margins, it’s easy to understand why so many branded jewellers have exited the loose diamond business.

Some jewellers have shifted their focus on watch brands, branded jewellery, and large non-engagement stones. You must also factor in the wide range of marketing vehicles that didn’t exist years ago within the online space, so you also need to be very knowledgeable in that regard and willing to spend large sums of money to successfully get your name out there. It’s challenging for a single store, especially smaller stores, to do that. 

Can you talk about Indian jewellery?

We sell some Indian jewellery, and we buy a considerable number of loose diamonds from India. Just like anywhere in the world, including the US, you need to find good, honest, and quality-driven companies to work with. There are many of those companies in India. 

What should the Indian jewellery manufacturing industry do to strengthen its image abroad? 

The biggest issue the Indian jewellery manufacturing industry has is the perception of quality. Yes, there are several low-quality manufacturing companies, but you can find that anywhere. However, there are also many excellent quality manufacturers.

Are international brands hesitant to mention India as the ‘country of origin’ on the label?

I think so. Many Americans have a negative opinion about the quality of jewellery manufacturing in India.

Are there serious drawbacks, real or perceived, in India’s manufacturing quality?  As mentioned above, there is high and low manufacturing quality in any country. Unfortunately, India is not known for good manufacturing quality, although there are some top-level manufacturers producing great products.

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