The fine jewelry category is saturated with large retailers such as Zales, David Yurman and Tiffany’s, not to mention the millions of online retailers and designers competing for top rank in search. Standing out alongside this caliber of competition is an immense undertaking which requires strong branding, a seamless user-experience and strong search presence.

What’s more, smaller independent designers struggle to compete in a market where retailers have an unlimited budget for ads. Designers not only have to compete for top rank in search by way of strategic SEO, but also bid and outrank the competition with costly Google Shopping ads.

And if it doesn’t get any more challenging, larger corporations are beginning to mass produce the “handcrafted look” at a significantly lower price point and quality. This means independent jewelry designers are faced with competing for customers who don’t mind spending less on a “similar” product at the expense of handcrafted quality.

The main questions we had at the start of this project were:

  • How do we define the brand to be as relevant as possible in a saturated market?
  • How do we demonstrate handcrafted and ethically-sourced quality and value to consumers?
  • How do we compete against larger competitors who have a larger budget?


We needed to improve brand messaging and refine the brand identity to help Vale Jewelry stand apart from the competition. So we began by crafting a new brand messaging platform adhering to specific attributes of luxury (e.g. allure of rarity, delivers the unexpected, creates lust and desire, etc). We also designed a classic brand identity inspired by high-fashion. This identity combines concepts of fashion minimalism to achieve a timeless look and feel.

To compete against larger competitors with significantly larger budgets, we attracted visitors through strategic SEO and user-experience design. We made it a priority to ensure the site was running optimally for visitors and communicating effectively with major search crawlers. This meant creating an online shopping experience that is both enjoyable, accessible and seamless on a phone or tablet as it is on a desktop computer.

Lastly, we opted to implement a custom content management system and design the new e-commerce experience in a user-friendly system to give store managers more flexibility in managing content, orders, reports and automated transactions.

Major Features Implemented:

  • Social login with Facebook and Google
  • Payment processing with Authorize.net
  • Email marketing integration / automation (cart abandonment)
  • Search engine optimization from the beginning
  • Instagram shopping (see below)
  • Integration and integration with Facebook
  • Schema.org snippets
  • Google Shopping feeds for advertising
  • Address validation to resolve improper address inputs
  • Integration with FedEx for dynamic shipping rate and tracking
  • Custom transnational emails and welcome series emails
  • Gift card setup and automation
  • Google Analytics, including custom dashboards for e-commerce

To wrap up the project, we set up automated email re-marketing to re-engage shoppers who abandoned their carts or added an item to their wish list. We also put a budget aside for Google Shopping Ads to attract customers searching for fine jewelry and other such keywords. The last step was implementing an Instagram shopping feed to display shoppable products and increase traffic to the website…and ultimately sales.


Vale Jewelry has noticed a significant boost in website traffic, seeing about 10,000 visitors per month, who on average view 4.5 pages. This is compared to 4,500 visitors per month seeing an average of 2 pages a year prior. The bounce rate floats at 20% with social traffic making up 42% of all traffic and a site visit duration of 2m30s.


Step 1: Brand Strategy

The first phase of our work together was updating the brand messaging platform. This included re-crafting the brand messaging platform to highlight Vale Jewelry’s key point of difference, which includes the following positioning statements:

  • Using conflict-free, ethically-sourced stones and diamonds in all of their jewelry
  • Handcrafting rare, one-of-a-kind pieces that are truly unique
  • Fine jewelry that can be layered and stacked for greater personalization
  • The jewelry is meant for everyday wearability and will not tarnish after prolonged wear

The brand platform was also built as a luxury brand, defined by the following attributes:

  • Has the allure of rarity
  • Experiments and takes risk
  • Delivers the unexpected
  • Unique and out of the ordinary
  • Conveys freshness and impact
  • Communicates artistry and magic
  • Creates lust and desire

This new messaging had to follow all of the classic attributes of luxury, while also being distinct enough to stand on it’s own.

Step 2: Brand Identity

In re-conceptualizing and designing the brand identity, we wanted to improve the existing word mark while staying within a minimalism framework. This meant creating an identity that would adhere to white space rules, and is only be as  functional as it needs to be, while also looking unique when presented alongside other competitors.

After evaluating 100+ type familes, Vanitas was chosen as the core type family. This typeface is a high contrast contemporary sans, rooted in the classic style of didone. Stylistically, Vanitas is alluring, sophisticated and directly inspired by high fashion.

Step 3: E-Commerce Design & Development

With a brand messaging platform and identity created, and a vision for minimalism, we set out to improve the e-commerce shopping experience by completely re-designing the platform.

At the time of development, the existing site was running on Ubercart, which hadn’t been updated in over 5 years. The previous developer disappeared, and the team at Vale Jewelry didn’t have the technical capabilities to make basic updates and changes. So rather than stay with Ubercart, we decided to build the new platform using WooCommerce, which is great for non- power users who need to make updates to the site on their own without hiring a developer.

The e-commerce design and development process included improving the user-interface, platform and technologies, as well as usability and accessibility standards. We also set out to improve search engine performance from the beginning, which meant coding the site with clean code.

Lastly, we integrated the site with a major email marketing platform to send automated cart abandonment email series to shoppers who closed a browser at checkout. As it currently stands, the email abandonment series has an open rate of 42%.

Step 4: Instagram Shopping

In retail, it’s critical to engage shoppers through social media. Successful social shopping experiences are the result of stunning social content and seamless functionality. And with the ability tag products in Instagram, we decided to set up a store feed on both the website and Instagram, which increased site traffic and engagement – more than other pages on the site.