Mention the words ‘Diamond’ & ‘Jewellery’ and most people’s heads will pop up like a Meerkat. Now try to imagine what it would be like to be a Diamond and Jewellery Buyer and Merchandiser.
Sounds pretty exciting doesn’t it? Well you need not imagine anymore, as we have spoken to Lorna Burhouse from Beaverbrooks the Jewellers which happen to have 67 high street stores throughout the UK to find out what it’s like being a Diamond and Jewellery Buyer and Merchandiser.
Name: Lorna Burhouse
Job title: Diamond and Jewellery Buyer and Merchandiser
Company: Beaverbrooks the Jewellers
What does your job role entail?
They say that diamonds are a girl’s best friend and that’s certainly the case with me, because I am responsible for buying all of Beaverbrooks’ diamonds and jewellery…it’s literally my dream job!
I hand-select every diamond and piece of jewellery to make sure that it meets with Beaverbrooks’ exceptional quality and exacting standards, while ensuring that it’s the right fit for our customers.
For me, nothing can match the excitement of finding your perfect diamond or piece of jewellery and I love knowing that I’ve played a big part in our customer’s special story, whatever that may be.
Describe your working day or week?
Of course there are certain elements of my job that are very glamorous and sometimes I feel like pinching myself to check I’m not dreaming, but despite what you might think, I don’t get to handle diamonds and gems each and every day!
As well as sourcing new and exciting products, listening to our customers’ feedback is really important, as their comments help us select and create gorgeous product ranges that we know our customers’ will love and cherish.
My job is to also review existing items and check that we have the right amount of product in stock. As a merchandiser I decide how much money should be spent, how many lines should be bought and in what quantities.
In terms of an average working week, it’s all about sales and number crunching on a Monday and Tuesdays tend to be when I place new orders to replenish stock; keeping up to date with market trends and reacting to changes in demand are key elements of the role.
The rest of my week quickly gets filled with supplier or strategy meetings and I spend a lot of my time liaising with key departments including marketing, display and e-commerce to ensure that our gorgeous products look fabulous both in-store and online.
What key skills to you need to do your job?
You definitely need to be business savvy and as you are regularly reviewing performance indicators, such as sales and discount levels, you’ll need to be good with numbers.
On the product side, you need to constantly be analysing consumer buying patterns and predicting future trends and so it’s important to stay abreast of market trends and knowing what’s hot and not.
As a buyer you need to understand the customer you are buying for…the golden rule is not to buy for yourself! With new lines I always think of our customer, what’s sold well in the past and consider new trends. I think your gut instinct is also really important too; if a piece of jewellery doesn’t feel right, I won’t buy it.
I regularly meet suppliers to negotiate terms of contract and so maintaining excellent relationships is also paramount. I’d say that it’s also very important to be a people-person, a key communicator and a good negotiator.
What made you decide to go for this job role?
I’m a bit of a number cruncher and love fashion, so I knew that I wanted to get into a buying and merchandising role in retail. When I left university I got a job working in a high-street jewellers and that’s when I developed a passion for jewellery and I knew that my future was in the jewellery industry.
Best part of your job?
I get really excited when a product that I have hand-selected is one of our best sellers. I also love it when customers share their engagement stories and photos with us on social media – it’s a wonderful feeling knowing that I have played a part in their love story.
As a buyer I’m very fortunate in that I get to travel the globe, making regular trips to places like Vicenza in Italy, Munich and Las Vegas, to work with designers and spot emerging trends. Not many people can say that they’re going on a business trip to Vegas to look at diamonds!
Worst part of your job?
Although my job involves travelling to some amazing places, it’s not all glitz and glamour when you get there. We have a very strict itinerary to stick to which often involves very long and action-packed days.
Buyers have a considerable amount of responsibility in what is often a pressured environment and a buying and merchandising role is certainly not for the faint-hearted, but the joy and excitement of dealing in diamonds and gems provides is definitely worth it.
Most memorable moment at work?
Last year Beaverbrooks celebrated its 95th anniversary and so to commemorate this significant milestone we introduced a new diamond collection, ‘Era’ to our range which is reminiscent of the brand and was created by reviving some our best-sellers over the past 10 decades.
I worked very closely with the design team and key departments on this range to create and develop the collection. Era has been the biggest collaborative project of my career to date and seeing the product in-store was one of my proudest moments.
If I’m choosing a course to study, what type of course suits this best?
A degree in retail, business or fashion will definitely put you in good stead for a career in buying and merchandising.
It’s also imperative that you are passionate and have a basic understanding of the industry and have sound product knowledge. As well as a degree and just under 10 years in the trade, I also have qualifications including the Professional Jewellers Diploma and Diamond Grading, to further support my role.
Does work experience really help you to get the dream job?
Absolutely! Buying and merchandising isn’t easy to break in to and so you need to be persistent, tenacious and willing to gain as much experience as you can.
Give us a tip on how to steal your job.
Immerse yourself in the industry you want to get in to and show that you have drive, motivation and lots of enthusiasm. As buying and merchandising is so competitive, do something that will make you stand out from the crowd, whether that’s launching your own blog, jewellery range or doing something wonderful for charity.