Silver and Enamel Ring - Daniel Vior
Ogham Jewellery is a jewellery business based in Ayr, Scotland. Run by Michael Freedman, Ogham Jewellery sells a selection of finely handcrafted jewellery for men and women chosen from designers around the world. I was really interested to find out more about the business and any advice Michael might have on selling jewellery online.
Silver and Rose Gold Ring by Aviv
What is your background? Have you always had an interest in jewellery?
Ogham Jewellery is a family business, which was started by my parents, Norman and Hazel Freedman. My father Norman was originally an accountant and a business consultant and mostly handled the financial side of the business, while my mother is a more creative person who had qualifications in art and pottery.
My parents also ran a number of retail businesses over the years, including clothing shops, a restaurant and a sweet shop. However my mother made the decision to open a jewellery shop as she had a passion for beautiful jewellery designs and because she felt it was so difficult to find the type of jewellery she loved in most jewellers stores, unique handmade designs, rather than mass produced pieces.
I became involved in the jewellery business seven years ago. Before that I ran a business consultancy with my father, helping companies to save money on their overhead expenses. I studied an HNC in gemmology and then the Professional Jeweller’s Diploma with the National Association of Goldsmiths, both of which I thoroughly enjoyed. Learning about the properties of gemstones, diamonds and precious metals, was the start of my own love of jewellery and I have come to share my mother’s love of handcrafted jewellery designs.
When did you open your shop in Ayr and how long was it before you started the website?
Our shop in Ayr opened 12 years ago. When I joined the business seven years ago I felt that the internet would become more and more important to our business so I started our website then. The original design would look very primitive now, most websites had terrible designs at that time. Over the years, I have spent a great deal of time developing our website store, improving the design and working on the content.
Sterling Silver Stingray Pendant by Chris Hawkins
How do sales compare between the two?
The majority of sales still come from our shop, the website accounts for around 30% of our sales at the moment, but I believe over time the internet will account for a higher percentage of our sales and eventually overtake the shop as online shopping is becoming more and more popular.
Perhaps the biggest reason for the growth of online shopping is the lower prices that online stores can offer due to their lower costs compared to traditional jewellery shops. This is of increasing importance because of the economic problems in recent years and the rising prices of precious metals.
Nevertheless, I think there will always be a place for the traditional high street jeweller as people enjoy browsing around shops and like the personal touch that a shop can offer, as well as the opportunity to try on jewellery before buying it. For instance, with the purchase of an engagement ring or wedding rings, I think most couples would find the experience of visiting shops and trying on rings together far more romantic than buying online.
Gold and Diamonds Pendant by Leon
How do you choose your designers?
We are always keen to find new designers and new ideas in jewellery and regularly visit the UK trade shows, such as the IJL (International Jewellery London) and Birmingham Spring Fair Jewellery Show.
As we love to sell more unusual pieces from around the world, we also visit trade shows in other countries and cities such as Vicenza, Tel Aviv, Munich and Las Vegas.
When we visit these shows we are always looking for the unusual, something different from what the chain stores sell but also beautiful and wearable jewellery and ideally also hand crafted.
We also often receive mail or email from many designers, advertising their collections and we are always on the look out for exciting new designs.
Silver Heart Pendant by Ortak
What is your most popular style/metal sales-wise online and shop based?
We are not sure of the reasons, but the profile of our shop sales and website sales are quite different.
By far, the most popular jewellery in our shop is the hand crafted designs from Israel which are mostly made in sterling silver, often set with opaline, garnet or amethyst gemstones. However, online our gold jewellery and rings are very popular.
Our Scottish and Celtic jewellery sell very well both online and in our shop, with the traditional Scottish designs being particularly popular in our shop with tourists and ex-pats and the more contemporary designs appealing to a wider range of customers, particularly the Sheila Fleet and Ortak jewellery which is hand made in the Orkney Islands. Online, we regularly receive orders for Scottish designs from all over the world, especially from America.
With engagement, eternity and wedding rings, gold and white gold are still the most popular metals, however palladium is becoming more popular all the time, as it is a naturally white metal which is lower priced than 18ct white gold. For men’s jewellery and rings, industrial metals such as titanium, zirconium and tungsten carbide are very much in demand.
Sterling Silver Ring by Banyan
What do you find the hardest thing about selling online?
The most difficult thing about selling online is that it is always changing. Websites have to update all the time to remain current, both in their design and features. In addition, most website traffic comes from Google searches so we try to ensure our website ranks well on Google so that more potential customers can find us on the web. Of course every online jeweller is in the same position so there is a lot of competition and Google often changes the way it ranks websites.
With regards to jewellery products, engagement and wedding rings are a very difficult product to sell online as people would generally like to try these on before buying and often they must be specially made in the customer’s size which increases delivery times.
Silver and Pearl Ring by Shablool
Do you have any tips for someone just starting to sell their jewellery online?
The first thing I would recommend is using one of the large ecommerce platforms for your website, rather than a small web developer. These platforms include Volusion, Big Commerce, Shopify and a number of others. We moved our website to Volusion in November and have been absolutely delighted with their service. The main reason I chose Volusion over the others, is that they seemed to be set up better for UK businesses whereas the others seemed more US based and did not even have a UK phone number to contact.
We worked for years with a small web designer, who was very technically gifted and did a good job for us, but it was hard to get enough of his time to constantly update and improve our website and it also proved expensive in the long run to constantly add new features. When we moved to Volusion we found that the store started from the beginning with all the features we needed and more, such as product picture magnification, customer reviews section, facebook, twitter and pinterest share buttons and a mobile phone version of the store, etc. These features all made the website more professional and credible and there was technical help available 24/7 for any questions or issues. Rather than paying for individual updates to our website we just pay a small monthly fee and the Volusion platform is regularly updated to include new features so our store remains at the cutting edge of online shops.
SEO and ranking on Google is important to any online business and the methods for achieving this all changed after Google’s recent panda and penguin updates. However, another tip I would give is not to be too focused on Google, but instead to engage with your community and customers on social networks, etc. and to focus on the quality of the content on your website as this in itself will improve Google rankings, increase sales conversion and improve the website experience for your customers.
Nowadays, if you offer a great product and excellent service and make a quality website, your customers will do your advertising for you and spread the word to their friends by word of mouth and also to their followers on the social networks. We believe that these social networks, like facebook and twitter, etc. will become more important over the coming years and so we have started building a following and engaging with our customers on these platforms.
Silver and Enamel Brooch by Sheila Fleet
I think you'll probably agree there's some stunning jewellery to be found at Ogham Jewellery. I love the mixture of the more traditional styles with the contemporary handmade pieces and particularly love the work of Orkney-based Sheila Fleet and the Israeli designers Shablool and Banyan. The website is well set out and very stylish inviting you to browse further.
The tagline in the website's banner really says it all - Ogham Jewellery definitely is the home of "Unique Designer Jewellery."