Julia Hackman Chafé, aka JewelsWithJules, has developed a 60,000-plus reach on TikTok since starting her account a little over a year ago. (Image by Diana Lin)
Kim Kardashian bought her youngest child, Psalm West, a $200,000 emerald necklace strung with a letter “P” pendant—featuring more than 40 total carats—for his third birthday. The monochrome green pendant and chain were on theme for the toddler’s Hulk-themed birthday.
On the subject of outrageous jewelry, another fun fact: In 2019, Cardi B wore $500,000 ruby nipple covers to complement her crimson-colored Thom Browne gown.
How do I know this? Because I follow JewelswithJules on TikTok. The account currently boasting more than 60,000 followers delivers my kind of celebrity news: no scandals, just a breakdown of their over-the-top jewelry looks.
It’s frothy, it’s fun, and it’s quick, with her videos typically clocking in at around 20 seconds. It’s “Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous” jewelry edition for today’s social media consumer.
The Jules in JewelsWithJules is Julia Hackman Chafé. She isn’t just a jewelry lover with a fascination for pop culture’s most fabulous baubles; she’s also the daughter of a gemstone dealer, working for her family’s business, Intercolor USA, in New York City.
A product of the Diamond District’s “I know a guy” esoteric traditions, her jewelry pedigree is decidedly old-school. But culturally, she’s one of the oldest members of Gen Z, current on social media trends and celebrity.
On her account, jewelry is a featured player but she is the star, her cadence and timing reminiscent of the influencer dubbed “Tik Tok’s Big Sister,” Christina “Tinx” Najjar, and her content output enviably prolific.
Not everyone can or should follow JewelsWithJules’ specific formula, but everyone can learn from her.
I met up with the Intercolor USA social media manager and administrative assistant by day and rising social media star by night to pick her brain.
We talked about her path to influencer-dom, the relationship between brands and influencers, and some tips and tricks for creating a presence on the fastest-growing social media platform.
Ashley Davis: Tell me about your day job. Were you born into the jewelry industry?
Julia Hackman Chafé: My dad and his three brothers started the business 41 years ago. It will be 42 years this Tucson.
They moved from Iran and fell into this business because their uncle in London was in gems. When they came to New York it was during the Iranian hostage crisis so no one really wanted to work with Persians. That’s why my last name is Hackman—they changed it from Hakimian so they wouldn’t seem Persian.
Their uncle in London was such a trusted person in the wholesale industry that people in New York would allow my dad and his brothers to take stones on memo. A bunch of people did them favors. That’s how they started.
I never thought I would work for my dad. I think every girl dreams of moving to New York City and working in fashion. Then in college I was like, ‘what am I doing? This is a silver-platter job. I get to work with some of the most beautiful stones in the world. I get to work with my dad who is the only mentor who is going to truly love me to death and won’t let me fail.’
AD: What’s your role at Intercolor?
JHC: Social media manager and administrative assistant, meaning I do whatever no one else wants to do. That’s how you learn.
AD: Tell me about the TikTok. How did it begin?
JHC: I was looking for influencers for my dad’s company and I couldn’t find anyone on TikTok. I was obsessed with TikTok. I’m convinced that TikTok is the future. There’s going to be no more Instagram [one day].
My husband Bruno was like, ‘Why can’t you be the influencer?’ And then he came up with JewelsWithJules. I was very embarrassed to start until he finally pushed me.
AD: Your specialty is the celebrity jewelry scoop. Is that how you started?
JHC: That’s how I started and I think that’s where I am now. I like celebrity gossip and I like jewelry. I like ridiculous jewelry, too. I don’t want to talk about a $500 ring. I want to talk about a $5 million ring, it’s more fun.
I can’t play those games by myself because I’m not wearing a $5 million ring.
AD: Where do you get your information? I’m very impressed with your research.
JHC: Google. Some of it I have to actually do myself, like the series I do figuring which pieces Kris Jenner owns. It takes a long time.
“I was obsessed with TikTok. I’m convinced that TikTok is the future.” – Julia Hackman Chafé
Most of it is Google. I search “most expensive red-carpet jewelry,” or I search by the celebrity or the brand. Somehow, something always comes up that I want to write about.
AD: My personal favorite is the kids’ jewelry.
There was a jewel you did a TikTok about that’s part of Kulture’s collection (Cardi B and Offset’s 4-year-old daughter, Kulture Cephus) that was also featured in the book “Ice Cold. A Hip-Hop Jewelry History,” my favorite jewelry book in recent memory.
JHC: The Patek?
AD: Kulture has a Patek?
AD: This was a piece that had enamel and teddy bears.
JHC: Yes, that was Kulture! It was her Christmas gift.
AD: That’s my personal favorite celebrity jewelry angle because it’s so wild. What about you, who are your favorites to cover?
JHC: I think Zendaya is my favorite because I really like Bulgari and she’s an ambassador. She’s also so stunning and her Bulgari pieces are ridiculous. I like color.
As much as I want to say Kim Kardashian, she doesn’t really wear that much color and Zendaya does.
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AD: Could you share some of your strategy and tips and tricks? There’s such a lack of a jewelry presence on TikTok. I feel like the traditional jewelry world hasn’t embraced it because it’s such a personal platform. It’s more off-the cuff and not as serious as Instagram.
What’s your personal approach?
JHC: I wholeheartedly believe the only reason any of my TikToks go anywhere is because of the celebrity [aspect]. When I do videos of myself without a celebrity angle sometimes they do well but all in all they don’t. When I post a Kardashian I know it’s 10,000 views minimum, no matter what I say.
“I don’t want to talk about a $500 ring. I want to talk about a $5 million ring, it’s more fun.” – Julia Hackman Chafé
From what I’ve heard about TikTok and speaking with other TikTokers who are much bigger than me, they say the first three seconds of your TikTok are the most important and you shouldn’t start your TikTok with something that isn’t going to grab someone’s attention immediately.
You have three seconds to convince that person to watch.
AD: It’s harder with [promoting] products it seems.
JHC: When you’re a brand, it’s a lot harder to [gain a following] because it’s not genuine. There’s a goal that’s clear, you know? You’re clearly just trying to sell your products.
When it’s just me on TikTok, talking the way I would talk with my friends, [it’s more natural]. It’s the way I would say to my friends: “Kim Kardashian wore $3 million earrings, oh my God.”
AD: What about the number of posts?
JHC: I post three times a day or else you don’t grow.
AD: Wow, so it’s really that constant flow. Do you use any type of scheduler?
AD: You just save the videos in drafts?
JHC: Not even. I try and write at least three a day—if there’s a certain TikTok trend [that I want to tailor to jewelry] I count that as one of my three. Then, every morning when I wake up, I do one hour of recording. Sometimes I can hit three videos. The max I’ve hit was seven in one hour but that was a lot of trend videos, meaning using a viral audio, not my original content.
I try and post three a day. I’ve seen on TikTok that people say posting more than that doesn’t really help. Posting less I can tell from my views—like posting two videos a day—they do OK but not as well.
“If you ask any Gen-Z person how much time they spend on Instagram it’s like zero.” – Julia Hackman Chafé
AD: What times are good to post?
JHC: My audience is most active at 4 and 5 p.m. everyday so I post at 2:30, 3:30, and 4:30 p.m.
AD: It’s so different from the algorithm on Instagram because you would never post hour to hour, you would always try to space out your posts a bit.
JHC: No, never.
AD: Why do you think jewelry brands should put effort into TikTok?
JHC: TikTok is the future. Instagram is so boring. If you ask any Gen-Z person how much time they spend on Instagram it’s like zero. If you’re a smaller brand selling fairly affordable fine jewelry pieces these are going to be your customers soon. And if you’re a high-end brand like Cartier these are going to be your customers in 20 to 30 years and you better stick your name in their heads now.
AD: Gen Z is also really coming into prime engagement time.
JHC: When I talk to my 16-year-old cousins they have never posted on Instagram before. They check Instagram once a week, scrolling through. It’s just not engaging enough.
AD: Once you’re on TikTok I feel like it’s a more fulfilling experience than Instagram. I laugh a lot and I don’t laugh looking at Instagram as much.
JHC: Instagram makes me sad.
AD: Honestly, same. It makes me a little sad.
JHC: How many 6 feet tall, gorgeous girls can I see go on vacation to Italy? I want to sit down and laugh; I don’t want to be sad about my life.
AD: At least when I see those girls on TikTok I don’t feel bad because they’re being funny and self-deprecating. It’s just not serious.
JHC: It’s Instagram versus reality. TikTok is more of that reality.
AD: I like that.
JHC: There’s also a mass subconscious movement among Gen Z that is kind of canceling this picture- perfect social media identity.
AD: We need that bounce back to counter how far it’s gone one way in social media, I think.
Tell me about brand partnerships. How can brands work with you?
JHC: I reach out to a lot of brands via email and some email me, that’s mostly how I’ve done it.
AD: Is your email in your TikTok bio?
AD: So you’re able to create videos pertaining to certain merchandise from a brand?
JHC: Yeah. I have a few different formulas that I use for my collaboration videos.
A lot of brands have been pictured on celebrities so I’ll talk about that celebrity wearing them and the details of that piece, a lot of which I wouldn’t have known otherwise, like the carat weight of a stone.
I have another formula if they’re not celebrity focused. I’ll talk about why this ring from their website would be perfect for Hailey Bieber, for example.
I’ve done unboxings but it doesn’t do well. My audience doesn’t care.