Las Vegas–In 50 Jewelers/50 States, National Jeweler interviews one retailer in each of the 50 U.S. states to find out how they are meeting the challenges of the changing retail environment.
Nabil “Bill” Sakkab has spent his entire adulthood in the jewelry industry. In 2012, he opened Desert Diamond Jewelers in Las Vegas.
Sakkab calls his business a “one-man show.” He personally conducts all custom and repair work at the bench, and his wife works at the store a couple of hours a day. This autonomy has helped Sakkab craft exactly the business he wants, with control over every aspect of it.
His strategy is working. As of press time, Desert Diamond Jewelers had 61 five-star Yelp reviews, for an average rating of five stars.
Sakkab explained to National Jeweler how, despite not even having a website, with the help of Yelp reviews he’s been able to triple his business in the last year.
Nabil Sakkab, who goes by Bill, founded Desert Diamond Jewelers in 2012. Sakkab and his wife are the sole employees of the store, which is 1,400 square feet.
National Jeweler: What’s the biggest challenge your store is facing?
Nabil Sakkab: Tapping into the millennial market.
They’re heavily online-based shoppers, and I was brought up in this business the old-school way. My demographic has always been an older crowd. But the millennials are now in their wedding years. They’re getting married, and the biggest challenge is convincing these young millennials to shop and buy from local, mom-and-pop brick-and-mortar stores.
NJ: What’s the top-selling category and brand at your store?
NS: Diamond engagement rings. We sell under our own brand, and I would say that 50 percent of our engagement ring would sales would be custom bridal orders.
NJ: Describe your regional customer.
NS: I’ve been in Vegas now for 12 years. I’ve owned several businesses here in town prior to Desert Diamond Jewelers.
My demographic has traditionally always been women age 55-plus. That has changed dramatically in the last two years. I was able to start paying Yelp for my ads and I’ve seen a huge turnout with them. I don’t do any advertising whatsoever right now, other than Yelp.
I used to be really big on TV advertising and do a lot of print, but now I rely 100 percent on Yelp. I actually have a five-star rating, which is really difficult to do. It’s me and maybe one or two other jewelers in the entire Las Vegas alley that have a five-star rating, and because of that, a lot of the millennials–25- to 35-year-old men and women–are finding me and are confident coming in.
My reviews are fantastic, and this has helped me tremendously. My business has increased two- or even three-fold in the last year. I used to have very, very slow summers and now my summers are busier than my holiday season.
In the last three weeks I’ve sold probably 10 engagement rings.
NJ: Do you have a strategy for getting customers to leave Yelp reviews?
NS: Speaking to Yelp and the experts over there, you’re technically not supposed to tell people to leave you a review and I really don’t.
The people who do come in here, maybe they say on their way out, “By the way, I found you on Yelp,” and I say, “Oh that’s great, thank you so much.” They actually (leave reviews) on their own–they’re very organic reviews.
Yelp is smart enough to know that your friends can leave you reviews because of the algorithm they have in place. They know your friends on Facebook, they know your friends on Instagram, so that review will stick and then disappear after 24 hours.
If Yelpers have never left a review for any business and they leave their first review–say for my store–it will stay there for 24 to 48 hours and then it will be gone. It will get put back on this link where you can look at previous reviews but the actual five-star review will not stick.
I think I have 40 or 50 five-star reviews right now, but there is actually triple that amount, but it’s hidden on the Yelp page.
I know there are a lot of stores out there that will stamp their receipt with a message that says, “Review us on Yelp if you can.” They’ll offer free things. I do give a free jewelry cleaning if someone “checks in” to my store on Yelp and I happen to see that–then they get their free jewelry cleaning–but I don’t give discounts. It’s completely organic.
Nabil “Bill” Sakkab
NJ: What’s the most popular style of engagement ring with your clientele now?
NS: Right now it’s definitely the halo. The number one top-selling diamond shape would be round and then princess cuts, and I’ve been seeing an increase in pears and marquises.
Fourteen-karat white gold is the most popular metal.
NJ: Which social media accounts are important to your business?
NS: Just Instagram. I do have a Facebook page, but I don’t do much on it. I think I tried to boost my ad one time on Facebook and I didn’t get anything–no comments, not too many likes. I only did the $5 boost–I just wanted to see what it did–and it reached 300 people but I wasn’t feeling the Facebook thing.
But with Instagram I’m getting a lot of new folks who are following us and people who are inquiring about things, asking for pricing and calling us.
NJ: Do you have e-commerce?
NS: I don’t have a website.
I’ve been so busy these last four years (since opening). I’ve had several people wanting to do it for me. I have a friend in Utah who’s been building it for me. It’s totally my fault. I can’t seem to get the wording and the links I want on there to him because I’m a one-man show.
My wife helps out a few hours a day. She does all the back office work that I hate to do. She organizes the store, does the merchandising and the displays. I literally sit on the bench all day and actually make the jewelry, repair the jewelry, do all the buying and selling and everything else that goes along with running a store.
I’m literally a one-man show, and I think that’s why I have such good reviews. I don’t have any employees to mess things up for me. I’m considering hiring a jeweler right now because my work on the bench is taking so much of my time. But this has been working for me; people seem to love the business.
NJ: What’s the best piece of advice you’d offer to other independent jewelry stores?
NS: I think, overall, you have to show your passion in this business, and you have to be 100 percent nice to everybody.
NJ: What’s a fun fact about you we can share with our readers?
NS: I wasn’t raised in this business. I’m the first-generation jeweler in my family.
I fell into it the year I graduated high school. A friend of ours from church who was a jeweler wanted to apprentice someone. He was in a jewelry-type setting similar to 47th Street in New York where there are several jewelers in one big open room and everyone has their own booth with two or three showcases. That’s kind of where it started–in a similar jewelry building in Michigan, the state where I was born.
From there, it transitioned into this gentleman from my church wanting to open a mall store. He was looking for an investor and my uncle happened to invest in the store with him and told me that he’d like me to be his eyes and ears at the store while I worked in the trade. So that’s what happened at the ripe old age of 17.
From there, my uncle paid for my GIA schooling and the rest is history.