written by Paul Holewa
Diamonds may be a girl’s best friend, but Aleah Arundale takes her relationship with the precious gemstone to another level entirely. As the founder of social media-based industry group Jewelers Helping Jewelers (JHJ), it’s not just the adoration of diamonds that fulfills Aleah. Her ubiquitous postings on social media focus on marketing messages about her work, her passions and, of course, diamonds.
Whether you’re spreading the word about a great lunch at a local restaurant or diamonds, there is a little self-marketing in sharing information on social media these days. And, Aleah is simply being a woman of her word regarding the importance of advancing a message.
A lesson that was mainlined to Aleah’s inner marketer came from Bill Warren, owner of North Carolina-based Gold Mine Fine Jewelry & Gifts and an industry speaker. “I was a jeweler for years but it was not until I became a marketer that I really started to make money,” Aleah remembers Bill saying at an industry event years ago. That message, as most marketing communications are intended, had an impact on Aleah.
“I have a knack for marketing and sales,” says Aleah. “I share it daily with all my JHJ members. You are not just a jewelry store owner or a diamond dealer. Today everyone must also be a marketing company. That’s where my passion lies.”
Aleah’s passion is as apparent as the eyeball-grabbing dresses and outfits she’s known to wear at trade shows. From diamond print yoga pants to a crinoline like skirt made of lights, everyone knows when Aleah is in the house.
And it’s not just her fashion choices. Her ever-present cell phone is the main vehicle for getting her marketing messages out. She can be seen capturing mainly videos and some stills of new products at a trade show, offering sales advice from her office at Olympian Diamonds, or doing what she does best – talking to her JHJ peeps giving them the latest and greatest from her broadcasting position, wherever that may be.
Being a marketer is more than a “knack” for Aleah. It’s part of her innate qualities that come with being a fifth-generation jeweler. She likes to joke that when she was born her parents said: “It’s a Jeweler!”
Her great-great-grandfather Joseph Siegel emigrated from Russia in the 1800s. He came to Midwest and settled in Grand Rapids, Michigan as a watchmaker. Similar to other immigrant jewelers of the time Joseph expanded his store offerings to include eye glasses, giftware and ultimately jewelry.
Siegel Jewelers became a prominent jewelry store in Grand Rapids. The traditions, passions and work ethics were passed down from one generation to the next. “It is an honor to have been born into a prestigious family business where integrity and service is paramount,” says Aleah. “There was never a doubt that I would not join my fathers before me in selling timeless treasures that last for generations.”
Each generation makes its imprint. For her family’s fifth generation of jewelers Aleah is definitely carrying on the tradition of excellence and customer service with diamond sales. But marketing is her other passion, along with sharing information – especially the kind that increases sales and helps jewelers make more money. “That’s where a lot of my passion lies,” says Aleah.
As a generational jeweler, much of Aleah’s present day knowledge is self-taught. She did, however, go through the arduous task of earning her Graduate Gemologist (GG) certificate from the Gemological Institute of America (GIA).
“Growing up in retail is why I am such a champion for the independent retailer,” says Aleah.
The JHJ Facebook community got its start four years ago. The group quickly got traction in the industry as an online destination to get quick and free advice, post helpful messages, glean retailer-specific content for many levels of store operations, gemstone and jewelry sales, as well as just plain fun and silliness. JHJ members even enjoy blowing off a little steam, especially on days when the fifth watch battery replacement customer of the day just hopped on the last nerve.
Over time the invite-only, industry-dedicated social media group has expanded exponentially with 21,500 members and growing. But members aren’t just retailers. Wholesalers and manufacturers are part of the group as well. Their membership has its share of critical importance.
“JHJ was started for the purpose of helping the retail jewelers,” says Aleah. “But most dealers have no idea how hard it is to run a retail jewelry store with so many business decisions to make each day let alone certain retail customers. We [JHJ] make it easier.”
JHJ has an impressive number of members, but in an industry where tangible, tacit connections matter, Aleah wanted to bring her Facebook group to life in a magazine. For Aleah the magazine is an extension of social media community – the “best of” moments in print. In the January-February 2021 issue, JHJ Magazine will celebrate the start of its third year of publication.
As 2021 gets underway, Aleah will be at trade shows donning her attention-getting outfits, many of which are gifted to her from JHJ members. It’s more than just marketing. It’s her BYOB (Bring Your Own Booth) approach to working trade shows. “Why spend so much money on a booth when I can attract more sales and more attention with fun outfits?” says Aleah.
Aleah is also a thrifty shopper of clothes that have a diamond theme or pattern to them. “It takes so little to get noticed,” says Aleah. “Show what you love and you’ll always have customers.”