Del Francis Jewelry
Dallas Style & Design Interview Questions (In Blue)
by Joanne XU
Answered by Stacy Streat-Francis, GIA AJP
First and foremost, what is your focal point of this interview?
I want the focus to be on the jewelry itself, what we offer & why, but I want the the tone to be the romantic interlude that comes from the client being connected with the piece and the moment in time they are creating. Maybe it’s special day, a gift of achievement to themselves, whatever the reason, I want them to look at the jewelry they picked and remember that specific moment in time. And with the quality, the jewelry will last being passed down generation to generation.
We can handle pretty much any request.
All of “Del’s” designs can be crafted in 18K White, Yellow or Rose Gold or .950 Platinum. We also take special request for Dels designs to be crafted in white, yellow or rose 10K and 14K or sterling silver. We can change the types of stones used in the settings. You can choose all diamonds for the design or have a variety of colors or specific type of stone. You can choose the shape of the main stone or use yours. We can change the quality of the stone if you like. We will even design something to fit your specific budget. If we don’t have a stone readily available, we will do our best to find it. We will also work with a client if they would like to modify one of Dels’ designs to their specific specifications. We can add different colors of gold for a two-tone look if you like or we can replace the head or add a design element. Send us a sketch on a napkin and we will make it happen. A simple phone call or email can get the process started.
(We can only make changes to the items that are listed online as 18K or Platinum.
The 14K jewelry are not our designs and will soon be phased out.)
How did the concept of Del Francis come about? (see last question also.)
I’m obviously a romantic. Everywhere I looked, I saw the same style of jewelry and none of it loved me. I wanted to wear a piece of jewelry that evoked feelings in my soul when I first saw it. I wanted it to love me. This is truly how I view everything. Even the art on my living room wall had to love me. I went with bare walls for a while, because I would rather wait and invest more resources to have the absolute perfect piece that I loved so much, it loved me back. If I could walk past something, and never think of it again, it wasn’t for me. I had to hear the choir sing and fortunately for me, my husband Del was the exact same way, which makes sense, doesn’t it?
I also think that certain styles look better in certain colors. I bought an orange handbag once, not because I like the color orange, but because the color and style were an awesome combination. And the compliments on the bag confirmed it.
I’m the same way with jewelry. I figure that I’m not the only person, so I want to offer practically endless options. Which is why my pieces are offered in white, yellow or rose gold and of course platinum because the coolness of platinum feels good against my skin.
We didn’t start the business to have the focus on us as designers. We want the focus to be on the client. My enjoyment comes from serving people. Making sure they are satisfied and that their experience, starting with our design, all the way through the “gifted” experiencing the moment. I am not just focused on providing a special gift for someone to give, but also the experience for the self-purchasing woman. I want her to feel her heart sing when she opens one of our boxes.
We will only continue to get better providing our clients with experiences of opening a simple box that makes them feel like royalty.
All of our jewelry is made upon order, both our designs and the 14K collection, because I want our client to have a connection with the piece. They are personally thought of, and every person involved in the process refers to them by name, not by an order number. That’s very important to me. I want the client to feel valued, to feel like they are being treated extra special, to feel like they are being treated with priority above all else, because they are.
Every step of the process is overseen by myself. I follow each piece through. We check and double check to make sure it’s perfect, that every aspect is perfect. We want the customer to feel the love that went into making this piece especially for them.
When designing a piece for Del’s designs, I start out with a feeling. I let the piece create itself. I know exactly when it’s perfect, it’s when it loves me. I know that might sound quirky, but it’s truly how I am in life. And if I like something or find a design that loves me, then I know it will love someone else also.
I like styles and color combinations that are different, but, elegant. My style is usually a combination of Modern & Vintage. I want to provide jewelry that can be worn in any life setting. For example, I have a friend who has an Equestrian farm. I saw her tucking her pendant into her collar as she was walking towards the barn…so I like to think that every woman has their special, good-luck charm or sentimental pendant passed down from their grandmother, beneath their collar.
Personally, I put on a piece that loves me and I wear it till the next piece that comes along loves me. I display them lovingly because they are a part of me, there is a connection, not because I designed it, but because it draws me near to it. It loves me back; it ignites a spark in my soul.
I want our clients to be truly happy with their purchase. Every box comes with a prepaid return label, just in case they decide to send it back, because maybe that’s not their love story after all. And I completely understand that, which is why we make returns as easy as possible. No hassle, just send it back. Let us know if you want a different love story or if you have decided that this isn’t the time for you and we will provide a full refund, no questions asked.
In the future I would like to open my studio to our clients. But I do not want a traditional store front. I would still want the experience, the relationship that comes with each client visiting my studio.
I want to stay away from ever being a big box retailer. I feel that as soon as that happens, the relationship is lost. When you work in corporate retail, it’s all about the numbers and that is not our focus. Our clients are not a number, it’s not about the number of items an employee can load onto our website in a certain amount of time. Our expectations on our employees, are focus, trust, honesty, integrity and value. Value, as in, we value them as a person. We ask their opinions and then listen. We appreciate diversity. We are not cookie cutters, just like I don’t want our jewelry to be.
I love quality above anything else. I admire it. It doesn’t matter what it is. I can lay my eyes on a man’s shirt and know immediately that it was hand-stitched. I can look at a piece of jewelry and instantly know that is was custom created. If you set a group of items before me, I will automatically choose the item with the best quality. If the quality doesn’t match the Birkin that I carry around in my head, then I just move on.
I want to offer that choice to our clients.
A huge selling point of Del Francis Jewelry is that it is an online-exclusive boutique. Tell me more about how that works and why you’ve chosen to stay that way over the years.
I’m more of an artist with a studio. Most of our jewelry online has been designed by myself or in collaboration with Del. We are not looking to fit the status quo, quite opposite actually. We are not trend followers, we do what we love, we design what we love and we know that if it loves us, it will love someone else too… and that has been our experience.
Even though we are online-exclusively, we are all about customer experience. The piece that we craft for you belongs to you and no one else. From the very first moment, each stone is handpicked just with you in mind. The crafting process is being made for “Stacy” not for customer 13213. It’s personal. It loves you, there is a connection and we are going to take care of it and craft it personally for you.
Being online allows endless options of customization.
Do you foresee a brick and mortar storefront anytime in the future?
Yes, but when I do open my doors, it will not be a traditional storefront. I will set-up my studio so that clients can drop in when they like, but the location will be chosen carefully for our cliental. Right now, we are by appointment only. But most of our clients are comfortable with email, or even text messages. It just fits their busy lifestyle.
I understand that each piece is handmade specific to custom order. How does the entire process, from consultation to delivery, work?
(I design our Design by Del items.)
For bespoke pieces.
Our clients usually give us an initial call. We dialogue back and forth on the design, usually by email or text message. If needed, we can make an appointment to meet local clients. I then consult with our manufacture who sources the materials and our Master Jeweler who will craft each piece. We are fortunate enough to have them in close proximity to us. There are a lot of meetings, phone calls and emails, as I like to stay on top of every aspect. I inspect each stone parcel. I personally oversee packing & shipping each order from the manufactures studio. If the piece is over 30,000.00, I will hand deliver it to you within 50 miles of Downtown Dallas, TX.
As “fast fashion” becomes more and more of an evolving trend, why have you chosen to stick to your handmade, no premade/extra stock strategy?
Handmade is personal. It’s like writing a letter to your lover. You wouldn’t want to type and print it, would you? Well, you could, but I would appreciate more than just the words my husband wrote. I would appreciate the poetic gestures of his handwriting or a dried teardrop of passion. You cannot find that interlude on a computer, nor the romantic notion in a pre-fabricated ring.
In the fine jewelry industry, what gives Del Francis that cutting-edge factor?
Our crafting methods are handmade by our Master jeweler. Our cutting-edge comes from our knowledge and combined years of experience. Our education and our commitments to all involved. AGTA, GIA, Ethics Professionalism, integrity.
I sketch out the 18K designs. (Some of them say Design by Del, some do not, but the distinguishing difference is between 18K & the 14K offered.) Then Del and I discuss and review the design to see if it will work and if we can source the stones that we want. There have been some designs that we have scrapped because the perfect materials were not available at the time. We put them in the back and revisit at a later date. If we can attain the material, then it’s a go and we have a prototype made and continue from there.
After the sketch, I use a 3D design software to ensure best practices for production specifications. I consult with the Master jeweler in every step of the process: design, prototyping, setting and finishing.
Tell me about the philosophy behind your company. What inspires each piece? What do you stand by?
For me, my inspiration is connected to my soul. When I’m creating, it feels like a dance with my husband or a kiss on the neck when he comes into the studio to say “hi”. It’s a journey, a relationship developing.
We stand by our word. Our commitment. Integrity, even when no one is looking we do the right thing. Honesty. Legally we are required to reveal every little detail, to be truly transparent. You don’t see transparency a lot, but I do not want to surprise anyone in a negative way when they have the jewelry in their hand and see it for the first time.
In what ways do you ensure quality in both service and craftsmanship beyond what can be accessed through your website?
Everyone involved, our manufacture, Master jeweler and even myself continue our education every year to stay abreast on the jewelry trade. As GIA Alumni, we participate in events hosted by our chapters, including social meet-ups and networking opportunities at industry trade shows and education opportunities.
I also participate in GIA’s yearly Gems & Gemology Challenge. Participants who score above 75% are rewarded with a letter of Completion as such an accomplishment is evident of commitment to acquiring the necessary knowledge to maintain a high level of expertise in the industry. I have been presented with the Letter of Completion for the 2017 Gems & Gemology Challenge from Susan M. Jacques, President and CEO, GIA.
What is the one thing you want our readers to know about you?
I have been involved in the jewelry trade for about 10 years now, but My passion for jewelry started at a very young age. My grandmother passed when my mother was just 18. My mothers’ memories of her are my own. I spent many quiet times in my younger years, sitting alone, going through my grandmothers’ jewelry box, admiring the quality and craftsmanship and the styles she chose. It was my way of getting to know her. My mother now wears her wedding ring. The ring is custom made in white gold with mixed-shaped diamonds. (as a child, I thought it was a butterfly). Not traditional at all, and I like to think my grandmother is where I get my creativity & drive from.
The inspiration to share my creativity comes from the business’ name sake, my husband Del Francis. He is my doppelganger. Our mothers’ were best friends, so we share most of the same childhood memories, likes & dislikes. Del is amazing. He has always been one of the nicest, funniest and genuine guys you could ever meet. He exemplifies trust, honesty & integrity. He loves with a passion, as such poems are written. We are as much the same, as we are different and he has been the perfect business partner; encouraging, while being the driving force. Del served 16 years in the Texas Army National Guard and I do my best on a daily basis to show him my respect for his servitude.
We have five children, two grandchildren and two more on the way. Stephanye & Ralf; Leon, Toby & Baby-to-be Nicolette, Rebecca; & Baby-to-be Sawyer, Brianna, Billy & Brendan. Countless family & friends that support us and keep us lifted up. Eph. 3:19