New York—National Jeweler Network (NJN) held its first-ever America’s Best Jewelers Retail Benchmarking Symposium and Awards Presentation at the Westin New York at Times Square on Saturday.

During the event, about 60 retail jewelers from around the country discussed best practices in areas such as marketing, operations and training. In addition, 31 couture-level retailers were recognized as the first class of America’s Best Jewelers.

America’s Best Jewelers is a program launched by NJN this past spring. The program includes an online survey that asks retailers about their best practices in customer service, financial management, marketing, operations and staffing/human resources.

Shaker Heights, Ohio-based MPI Group conducts and analyzes the survey to determine whose business practices are the best and, thereby, a winner of the America’s Best Jewelers designation.

A total of 264 jewelers completed the survey, 93 percent of which are independent retailers.

In addition to the survey and America’s Best Jewelers designation, the program also contains a conference component, which brings these jewelers together with their peers to share best-practice tips.

Areas covered during Saturday’s conference included customer service, financial metrics, marketing, operations and staffing/human resources.

Some of the tips shared included:

—Write a weekly column or appear on a regularly broadcast radio show to get your store’s name out in the community.

—Use a mobile billboard or strategically place your billboard near a business where people are more likely to spend longer amounts of time, such as a car wash.

—Hire a firm to conduct “video mystery shopping” in your store to see how your salespeople stack up.

—Conduct some form of employee training on a daily basis.

—Add a handwriting-analysis segment to your hiring process.

For a complete list of the couture-level retailers chosen as America’s Best Jewelers, and for more information about the program, visit its Web site,