Jewelry Store Lighting Design

Written by Josh Wimmer for

When it comes to lighting your store, don’t go it alone. If you look for cheap deals or just assume the brightest lights are best, you’re likely to end up spending more in the long run or making your merchandise look poor, said Econo-Lite‘s Howard Gurock at The SMART Show on Sunday. You’re better off working with a lighting expert who knows the jewelry industry.

In a Q&A with Larry Johnson of display maker Pacific Northern, Gurock shared some tips on how to make your lighting really shine:

  • A rule of thumb: If you light for your diamonds, everything else will survive. If you light for everything else, your diamonds will die. So light for your diamonds.
  • Brighter isn’t better. You don’t want your lighting to be so overpowering that the jewelry looks different when you take it out of the case. Your in-case lighting should make your diamonds sparkle, and the overhead lights should be consistent with that look.
  • LEDs create the most scintillation in diamonds and are also the most energy-efficient form of lighting. And they’re now powerful enough to be used as overhead lighting, although metal halides may still be your best bet for overhead.
  • A quality overhead light should cost you $80-$100. Quality in-case lighting should cost you $80-$120 per foot, or a bit more than $40 per foot for LED tape lighting.
  • Avoid online discount lighting merchants, who often sell poor-quality products that won’t last as long as promised or will provide inconsistent color or brightness. Also avoid home-improvement stores. “You can go to Home Depot and talk to the lighting expert there, but the day before, he was the plumbing expert,” Gurock said. Moreover, those stores are selling residential lights, meant to be used for maybe three hours at a time. They’re not built to meet retailers’ needs.
  • Check your warranties. If your warranty on an overhead light isn’t for at least five years, be careful.
  • When you contact a lighting company, there are certain questions they should ask if they’re any good: What is your ceiling height? What type of merchandise are you selling? What kind of cases do you have? What kind of look are you going for?
  • If you’re building or remodeling your store and you provide your lighting company with a good floor plan, a knowledgeable expert should be able to use it to lay out a lighting plan, so you can see where your lights will go and how much your lighting setup will cost. If you can’t get your lighting company a floor plan, send them photos of your showroom.

Good lighting is expensive, sure, but trying to do it on the cheap is just money down the drain. “The best way to save money,” Gurock said, “is to talk to someone who has expertise in lighting and ask them where you could cut back.”


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