Wake Up and Smell the Metal (and Other Marketing Lessons I Learned from Jewelry)

I recently had the pleasure of attending a conference in New York on antique and estate jewelry, a passion of mine outside of marketing. The conference was supposed to be an extracurricular activity but, ever the marketing professional, I couldn’t get Berbay and our clients off my mind. I kept seeing unexpected connections between jewelry and marketing professional services.


The first time this happened was during a conference session about determining jewelry’s material and age.Jewelry both new and old was passed around for participants to touch and look at through a loupe (a jeweler’s device, similar to a magnifying glass). I and my fellow participants thought we were being observant enough by just handling and examining the jewelry—but in fact, we soon learned, we weren’t being nearly as perceptive as true jewelry experts. After we had looked over the pieces, we were given a list of ways to tell what jewelry is made of and how old it is. Many of the methods were entirely new to me—for example, smelling the jewelry (because sterling smells different than base metal).

The experience made me wonder: If being more observant with respect to jewelry could unearth this whole trove of information, what could being more observant do with respect to Berbay’s clients? What might I be overlooking in my client interactions? I resolved to listen to and watch our clients more closely—to use all their cues to ensure that we’re communicating the way they want to communicate.


At another conference session, experts from museums spoke to attendees about the inextricability of antique and estate jewelry and its historical context. What a piece is made from, for instance, has to do with what metals were available when it was created, and that, in turn, is related to what was happening in the economic sphere then. So to really know jewelry, you have to know the context.

The same could be said of marketing. If Berbay were still marketing professional services the way it did 10 years ago, ignorant of the virtual revolution in the technological context of marketing that has since taken place—well, you wouldn’t be reading this blog post. Professionalservices marketing used to mean simply getting an article published. Now it means getting the article published, republishing it on your blog, posting the link on your Facebook page, and so on. Just as contextual factors such as the economy, technology and culture determined what tools were available to jewelers a hundred years ago, so too do they determine what tools are available to marketers today. And just as jewelers had to be aware not only of what was going on in the world around them, but also of what was likely to happen in the future, marketing professionals like us at Berbay have to always be looking forward to best serve our clients.

…And here I thought I was taking a vacation!

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