Design and Technology Drive Growth for Hart's Jewelers
Retailer uses CAD/CAM to dramatically boost business
BY MARK B.MANN AND LAINIE MANN
FEATURING HART JEWELERS, GRANTS PASS, OR
Hart Jewelers in Grants Pass, OR, has been family-owned for more than 50 years. "Our customer is the most important person in our store," says owner Tom Hart, and that's apparent in the way the staff interacts with clients, and sells and services jewelry throughout the day. Long-time customers Linda and Dave Noggle wanted a bracelet designed for a pair of opals cut by Dave's father. The couple wanted a piece that would showcase these cherished family heirlooms. "I wanted to be able to wear it and enjoy it," says Linda, who asked that Tom design some way to protect the back of the bracelet, which is most susceptible to wear. Tom incorporated a grooved surface into the design to minimize the effects of daily wear.
Tom Hart delivers a custom-made bracelet to Linda and Dave Noggle, who have been customers for 12 years. He designed the bracelet for their opals using Gemvision's Matrix Jewelry Design software.
After the Noggles approved the design, Hart passed it on to Kevin Fertenbaugh, who milled the bracelet in four components with the Gemvision Revo 540 wax milling machine. The components were then cast and Fertenbaugh began assembing, setting and finishing the bracelet.
Linda specifically requested a safety latch that would be easy to use, yet comfortable and secure. She was concerned that a "Figure-8" style lock would catch and pop open during wear. To ease this concern, Fertenbaugh, a master bench jeweler, designed and handcrafted this double locking box clasp for the bracelet.
Tom Hart began with CAD using Gemvision's two-dimensional Digital Goldsmith software about eight years ago. When Matrix, Gemvison's 3-D design software was produced, Hart was among the first to use it. "Our store's sales in custom jewelry have significantly increased since using CAD software. Our customers can easily envision the products we are proposing.We are also pleased with the increased margins made possible by using this technology."
Hart and Fertenbaugh are the store's designers. They work from independent workstations producing customers' design requests. Clients view their designs via laptop computers at the showcases of the elegantly appointed store. The CAD design function has become such an important part of the overall business growth that it will soon be housed in a private but visible room, sharing space that had been used exclusively for diamond consultations and sales.
Award & Corporate Jewelry
The Pear Blossom Run is a 10k race in Medford, OR, celebrating its 30th anniversary. For years, Hart's donated the medallions awarded to the race winners. For the anniversary, Hart made 4,000 commemorative medallions to be presented to each participant and the award medallions. MATRIX RENDERING BY TOM HART.
Hart also designs corporate jewelry for Hellgate Excursions, which runs the popular Rogue River boat trips. Yearly, more than 250,000 tourists take the challenge and clamor for gift shop souvenirs such as charms and medallions to commemorate the experience. Hart is thrilled with the new applications of the latest version of the Matrix software. "It's fast, easy to use and I can achieve amazing detail and accuracy," he says. TOP: PHOTO BY KEVIN FERTENBAUGH BOTTOM:MATRIX RENDERING BY TOM HART
Private Label Products
Hart and Fertenbaugh are working toward another goal being realized through CAD/CAM. This design from a bridal line (featuring their signature ring shank) will be made exclusively for their store. Hart's Jewelers has a strong diamond business. "We should be offering our customers exclusive designs from which to select their engagement and wedding rings for the diamonds we provide," Fertenbaugh says. MATRIX RENDERING BY HART
Service work has been a staple at Hartï¿½s for decades. Ron Hix, Hart's Jewelers shop manager, is setting stones in one of the store's custom designs for a customer. His bench is located in the second level shop and is visible from the showroom. This allows customers to watch jewelry being made and enables the manufacturing staff to monitor the store's activity and to assist in sales as needed.
Hart's also has a laser welding unit to assist in repair and custom manufacturing. Goldsmith Jerad Hix is completing a repair detail. Hart states,"Since investing in and incorporating this new technology, jewelers from the surrounding area have been referring customers for repair and custom order. We are very proud to be getting these referrals from our peers in the industry."
Kevin Fertenbaugh began working at Hart's in August, 2005. Along with his master-level skills for design and manufacturing, he brought a Gemvision Revo 540 to Hart's. He's given new life to the casting and model making operation at Hart's. He also interviews customers and designs using Matrix. In addition, Fertenbaugh has introduced new bench technology to the Hart shop staff which has brought the service department to higher levels of efficiency and service. Fertenbaugh is preparing the mill to carve a custom engagement ring.
Hart, Fertenbaugh and other staff members routinely take classes, attend seminars and monitor industry forums to stay up with technology. Hart says, "This effort has allowed us to keep up with emerging technology in our industry and we have significantly grown as a result."