Award-winning blogger, jewellery influencer and IJL 2017 speaker, Liza Urla, has created a thriving media business infused with her eye for style and photography.
Here, the GEMOLOGUE founder explains how she got started and shares her top tips for social media and blogging…
Q. How did you get started in the jewellery industry and why do you think it has held your passion for so long?
GEMOLOGUE stemmed from my obsession with jewellery and it stands for a dialogue about gems . Discovering stunning jewels is GEMOLOGUE’s raison d’etre ! I started the site following my gemmology degree at the GIA in New York back in 2009, and I am now known as the first jewellery influencer in the world.
When I started GEMOLOGUE eight years ago, I could not photograph jewellery because designers were terrified of the internet as it would allow others to copy their designs. So instead, I focused on jewellery street style around me. As more and more fashion designers embraced the internet and blogging to spread awareness about their brand, the jewellery world slowly followed suit.
I became the face of a few American fine jewellery brands and that’s how my career as a blogger began. Last year I was lucky to discover jewellery designers and give jewellery talks across continents, from Europe, Asia, the Middle East, and South, Central and North America. This year, I plan to visit diamond and gemstone mines as well as to publish my first jewellery book!
Q. How would you describe the aim and ambition behind GEMOLOGUE?
I have a very sharp eye for jewellery and I curate it within fashion and travelling context. My aim is to educate and inspire women and men about jewellery in an entertaining and engaging way. I am also known to have a fresh young approach to it.
I love costume, fine and antique jewellery – it doesn’t matter if it costs £5 or £50 million. I am a bit of a jewellery nomad; I see and find jewellery absolutely everywhere – in a boutique, flea market, art museum, a contemporary art gallery or at a friend’s house. To make a blog popular, you have to be truly passionate about what you are writing about. I breathe jewellery, and I am sure you can tell that from GEMOLOGUE
Q. How do you work with brands and what makes your relationship with brands so unique?
From my experience jewellery brands in the UK employ PR on a monthly basis and expect free coverage from journalists/freelancers (who are paid by magazines) and bloggers (who on the other hand are not paid by any organisation). As a consequence, jewellery brands rarely allocate budget for bloggers. That’s why I work via an agent and my assistant on various collaborations with jewellery brands such as event hosting, talks, takeovers, campaign face, trips, sponsored blog posts and advisory services.
Q. What do you think are the most important things to consider when developing a jewellery blog and what do you think sets yours apart?
I would love to see more quality jewellery bloggers out there with knowledge and expertise. The jewellery blogosphere is a small circle of women and men passionate about jewellery and I love and respect all of them dearly as I know how much work and effort it takes to create a jewellery blog.
The jewellery industry is not transparent and my reputation is key because of the high value of jewellery items. Having an authentic voice and being an opinion maker is very important and fortunately I don’t lack opinions!
I art direct all my shoots so ongoing creativity is an important skill to consider when developing a jewellery blog. I have been taking photos from a young age and I enjoy the process. I am very lucky to work and collaborate with talented professional jewellery photographers. Photo equipment is key for creating a beautiful jewellery blog. I always carry around a professional camera, a smaller digital camera for vlogging, a mini tripod, a macro lens, and an external flash. You would never notice but my hand bag is over 10kg!
Q. What are you personal tastes when it comes to jewellery?
For me jewellery and blogging is an art and I self-express myself in creative ways. I am an absolute pearl lover. You might have seen my viral pearl face at London Fashion Week or 30m of pearls in my hair. I thrive in creativity and I have even been called a performance artist! My inspiration is Marina Abramović.
Q. When it comes to promoting GEMOLOGUE on social media, what is your strategy and what would be your advice to others?
It is important to consider social media strategies for different social media channels – Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, Youtube, Pinterest, Snapchat – and to know how each one of them works. Of course, your website is an extension of your business card, and I drive traffic to mine from my social media channels. I have worked on GEMOLOGUE.com for more than six months developing wireframe, graphic design and functionality. I am a perfectionist and detail oriented.
The other important element is the newsletter that I love creating for jewellery lovers and it is an art in itself. As you can see the blogging is not as easy as you might have thought!
Q. Lots of brands are beginning to see the value of working with influencers – why do you think brands should consider this approach?
The hard truth is that many jewellery brands in the UK prefer more traditional method s of advertising! And even though the situation is gradually changing and more of them are working with influencers, the approach to media is still somewhat old-fashioned.
Jewellery brands wake up only when their clients start passing away and the younger generation is not enticed via traditional methods of advertising. Then they are lost and frustrated with the digital world they live and work in. People relate to people, the same way consumers relate to influencers who share their interests.
I create quality touch points for brands, inspire consumers, support their choices and influence their purchasing behaviour. GEMOLOGUE is a much deeper personal experience than regular press releases or magazine articles about jewellery, therefore making the content more relatable to GEMOLOGUE followers.
Q. Photography is a big part of your website – do you think brands put enough emphasis on original photography and what would be your top tips?
A picture is worth a thousand words. I seek to create editorial - quality artistic content for jewellery brands I work with in a fashion and travelling context, complemented by creative styling. I don’t publish any third-party content. All jewellery featured on GEMOLOGUE and its social media channels has to be pre-selected and seen by me. I never use product shots.
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