5 Things to Know About Selling Jewelry to the LGBTQ+ Community

IndependentsMay 05, 2022

5 Things to Know About Selling Jewelry to the LGBTQ+ Community

Color Source Gems’ Jeremy Chalchinsky covered authentic advertising, anti-discrimination policies, and more during an AGS Conclave session.

Jeremy Chalchinsky, vice president of sales at Color Source Gems, led a presentation and discussion on selling jewelry to the LGBTQ+ Community at American Gem Society Conclave, which took place last week in Oklahoma City.
Oklahoma City—On the last day of AGS Conclave, in the last time slot, attendees filed into a final education session, this time to learn more about selling jewelry to the LGBTQ+ community.

Jeremy Chalchinsky, vice president of sales at Color Source Gems, was at the helm, PowerPoint clicker in hand as his mother and coworker, Rachel, observed from a few rows back.

He clicked to the first slide, starting his presentation with an unexpected opening line.

“I’m not gay,” said Chalchinksy, swiftly ushering out the elephant in the room.

So, what was he doing up at the podium?

“For a long time, I have heard people say that it’s up to the allies to stand up and say something. I decided to finally be that person within our industry,” he said in a statement to National Jeweler.

While he had reservations about being the right person for the topic, and concerns about potential backlash, he took inspiration from a framed quote in his office: “Feel the fear and do it anyway.”

The industry has begun having the uncomfortable but necessary conversations about race, but the diversity discussions have rarely included the LGBTQ+ community, he said.

“So many of my peers and friends are members of the LGBTQ community. They have lives, they love, and they buy jewelry. They’re also members within our industry community. We all deserve to feel safe and represented.”

“I was grateful to AGS for giving me the opportunity and for being so inclusive and open to diversity,” Chalchinsky concluded.

Here are five key takeaways from his presentation.

Know your customer.

Chalchinsky started his presentation with the basics, going over each letter in the LGBTQ+ with a brief explanation.

He delved into hot topics and issues specific to each community, like the difference between bisexual and pansexual and what it means to be genderqueer or genderfluid.

He took special care to explain what it means to be trans, noting that this group faces the most discrimination.

While jewelers, and people at large, should take the time to educate themselves on each community, Chalchinsky made it clear that these questions should not be posed to the customer.

It is never appropriate, for example, to ask a customer if they’ve undergone surgery or hormone therapy, or to comment on whether or not they “pass” as a man or a woman.

A retailer wouldn’t ask a non-trans customer about their genitals, he noted, so the same rule applies here.

As for knowing which pronouns to use, there’s no clear answer, but the most important part is to show that you are trying to be inclusive, he said.

When in doubt, use “they” or the person’s name.

If a mistake is made, apologize and be mindful of how to address this customer going forward.

 Related stories will be right here … 

The LGBTQ+ community has a lot of spending power.

Chalchinsky pulled out some interesting statistics to accompany his presentation.

A 2021 U.S. Census Bureau survey gathered info on the sexual orientation of adults aged 18 and over.

More than 3 percent of respondents identified as gay or lesbian, 4 percent as bisexual, 2 percent as “something else” and 2 percent responded, “I don’t know.”

That’s about 11 percent of the U.S. population a jeweler could miss out on by not welcoming members of the LGBTQ+ community.

A Gallup poll from February 2022 found that about 21 percent of Gen Z adults, those born between 1997 and 2003, identify as LGBT.

“That is nearly double the proportion of millennials who do so, while the gap widens even further when compared with older generations,” Gallup noted.

Chalchinsky cited a Nielsen study that found LGBTQ+ consumers make about 10 percent more trips to the store per year than their non-LGBTQ+ counterparts and spend about 7 percent more during those trips.

Though they may spend more, they don’t necessarily earn more, he said, due to discrimination in housing, the workforce, healthcare, and other areas.

He noted, however, that many LGBTQ+ couples have no children or fewer children than their non- LGBTQ+ counterparts, which means that, though they might earn less, they have more discretionary income.

Jeremy Chalchinsky is the vice president of sales at Color Source Gems.
Jeremy Chalchinsky is the vice president of sales at Color Source Gems.

Set anti-discrimination policies in the workplace.

Retailers should have anti-discrimination policies in place that extend to all types of discrimination and protect both customers and employees.

A supportive and professional environment is important for all employees, said Chalchinsky.

Just because an employee hasn’t publicly identified themselves as LGBTQ+ doesn’t mean that they aren’t in need of protection against discrimination, he added.

It’s also crucial that everyone is on board.

Because many independent jewelry stores are still family-owned operations, Chalchinsky gave the example of a strong-willed aunt with even stronger opinions who has worked behind the counter for decades.

There should be no passes given to employees who are discriminating or making other employees uncomfortable, regardless of how difficult the conversation may be.

A negative interaction with an LGBTQ+ customer, particularly one caught on camera, could cost a jeweler its reputation. And remember, basically everyone has a camera now, said Chalchinsky.

Reach out to the LGBTQ+ community.

As with any customer demographic, jewelers should meet LGBTQ+ customers where they are.

Consider partnering with a local business that caters to the LGBTQ+ community, or sponsoring a drag night at a local bar, Chalchinsky said.

During the Q&A portion of the session, an attendee lamented that her store wanted to welcome LGBTQ+ customers, but she was wary of alienating the bread-and-butter customers in her conservative area by showing outward displays of support, like a Pride flag.

For business owners, it may be easier said than done not to take their money when bills and employees need to be paid.

Chalchinsky noted that many trendsetters on social media, whether on Instagram, TikTok, or another platform, are members of the LGBTQ+ community. One of his suggestions was to partner with these influencers, who will reach the intended audience and avoid the “conservative” consumers.

Hanging a rainbow flag is an outward display of welcoming, but a sticker in the window from the Human Rights Campaign can also convey support but in a more subtle way, an attendee suggested.

Stay away from “rainbow capitalism.”

On the topic of advertising, Chalchinsky introduced the term “rainbow capitalism” to the audience. It’s a term that describes the commercialization of the LGBTQ+ movement, particularly Pride Month.

Every June, retailers large and small roll out the rainbow merchandise, slapping the Pride flag on as many items as possible.

By July, the outpouring of “love” for the community dries up, while the flow of donations to anti-LGBTQ+ politicians continues.

Consumers can smell pandering a mile away, Chalchinsky said. Authenticity and consistency is key to advertising to this community.

Make a concerted effort to include LGBTQ+ consumers in advertising year-round and don’t rely on old stereotypes.

Some customers may want rainbow jewelry, he said, but LGBTQ+ customers enjoy all kinds of jewelry, just like everyone else.

He added that consulting people within the community about an ad campaign can be the difference between a rousing success and an embarrassing flop.

Lenore Fedowis the associate editor, news at National Jeweler, covering the retail beat and the business side of jewelry.

The Latest

CrimeOct 03, 2022
Delaware Jeweler Viciously Attacked During Robbery

The jeweler was left in critical condition after a suspect pistol-whipped and beat him before stealing jewelry out of the display cases.

CollectionsOct 03, 2022
Vrai, Brides Magazine Partner on Lab-Grown Diamond Collection

Readers are taking a “strong interest” in lab-grown jewelry, said Brides’ editorial director.

WatchesOct 03, 2022
‘Unicorn’ Cartier Cheich Watch Sells for $1.1M

One of only four in existence, it more than doubled its pre-sale estimate at the Sotheby’s Paris auction.

Brought to you by
Sarine’s Second Generation AI-Based Diamond Grading

The diamond industry is dramatically evolving from manual to AI-based 4Cs grading. Stay up-to-date and discover the new AI-powered advances.

AuctionsSep 30, 2022
Red Diamond Earns $1.8M at Auction

The final hammer price blew the pre-sale estimate out of the water.

Weekly QuizSep 29, 2022
This Week’s Quiz
Test your knowledge of the latest jewelry news with this quick test.
Take the Quiz
EditorsSep 30, 2022
The Best of Betty White’s Jewelry Sold at Auction

Michelle Graff recaps the cats, fortune cookies, and charm bracelets that caught her eye while covering the late actress’ estate sale.

Policies & IssuesSep 30, 2022
Voting Is Open for the Fairmined 100 Challenge’s Best Collection

The winners, picked by a group of judges and voted as the public’s favorite, will be announced in a webinar on Oct. 11.

Brought to you by
6 Steps to Start a Dynamic Company Culture

Learn how to better serve your employees, customers and community by having a dynamic and supportive company culture.

CollectionsSep 30, 2022
Piece of the Week: Fewer Finer’s ‘Family Bracelet’

The engravable piece is a perfect family heirloom.

GradingSep 30, 2022
GSI India Names Ramit Kapur Managing Director

Kapur has spent nearly two decades working in the gemological labs sector of the jewelry industry.

Supplier BulletinSep 29, 2022
How to Create an Engaging Experience and a Sparkling Reputation

Sponsored by Synchrony

SourcingSep 29, 2022
Q&A: Constantin Wild Celebrates 175 Years in the Colored Stone Business

The family business’ fourth-generation eponymous owner reflects on the milestone and the market today.

AuctionsSep 29, 2022
See the Top Lots in Christie’s Upcoming Rare Watch Sale

According to Christie’s, the auction is its most important single-owner watch collection ever.

CollectionsSep 29, 2022
Trove Has a New Proposal: Ring Boxes

The jewelry box brand is expanding with both single and double ring boxes in red, mint green, and white.

SourcingSep 29, 2022
AGTA Names Jennifer Heebner Editor-in-Chief of its Publications

The association has also hired a new marketing manager and announced two staff transitions.

Policies & IssuesSep 29, 2022
JA Members Return to Capitol Hill to Voice Jewelers’ Concerns

The topics up for discussion with lawmakers included inflation, rising interest rates, hiring challenges, and crime.

AuctionsSep 28, 2022
The 18-Carat ‘Fortune Pink’ Diamond Could Sell for $35M

The pear-shaped fancy vivid pink diamond will lead the Christie’s Geneva Magnificent Jewels auction on Nov. 8.

SurveysSep 28, 2022
Consumer Confidence Rises in September

U.S. consumer confidence rose for the second consecutive month as gas prices fell.

MajorsSep 28, 2022
Artistry’s 2023 Catalog Is Out Now

The jewelry catalog features an updated layout and 160 pages of product.

MajorsSep 28, 2022
JFC’s 2022 ‘Hope for the Holidays’ Program Is an Adorable Menagerie

There are three designs to choose from this year, all featuring animals drawn by kids who have had wishes granted through Make-A-Wish.

AuctionsSep 27, 2022
In Betty White’s Blockbuster Estate Sale, Jewelry Held Its Own

Fine jewelry comprised three of the auction’s top 10 lots, though it could not top her director’s chair or scripts from “The Golden Girls.”

CrimeSep 27, 2022
3 Suspects in Beverly Hills Smash-and-Grab Robbery Arrested

A total of four suspects are now in custody with police still on the lookout for the remaining two.

ColumnistsSep 27, 2022
Creative Connecting: Fun Ideas for Holiday 2022 In-Store Events

From a “whodunnit” murder mystery to a permanent jewelry party, Duvall O’Steen and Jen Cullen Williams share a wealth of suggestions.

MajorsSep 27, 2022
Stuller Releases 2 Updated Catalogs Ahead of the Holiday Season

“Mountings 2023-2024” and “Diamonds & Gemstones 2023-2024” offer a vast selection of options to create custom pieces.

Events & AwardsSep 27, 2022
ICA’s 2023 Congress Will Be Held in Dubai

The event will be hosted by the Dubai Multi Commodities Centre from Feb. 15-17.

CollectionsSep 26, 2022
Go ‘Inside the Dream’ of Bulgari Via a New Documentary on Amazon Prime

It follows Creative Director Lucia Silvestri as she crafts the brand’s high jewelry collections.

Recorded WebinarsSep 26, 2022
Watch: What Jewelers Should Know About Insurance

From safeguarding showcases to appraisal liability, insurance experts Mark Devereaux and Andrew Chipman share insurance tips for jewelers.


This site uses cookies to give you the best online experience. By continuing to use & browse this site, we assume you agree to our Privacy Policy