Many jewellery shop owners treat lighting in their shop as a cost instead of using it to boost sales, even though it is one of the most important aspects in the jewellery shop design is the lighting.
“People cannot look at lighting as an expense, but rather as a way to increase sales and profitability,” says Mickey Minagorri, the director of business development for Artco Group, a Miami-based planning and design company which also manufactures store fixtures. “You can have the most beautiful store and the best jewellery, but in the end you want to be able to present your jewellery in the best possible light.”
Jewellers are better informed about the importance of display lighting now, says Keith Kovar, a principal of a New York City interior design firm called GRID/3. “Jewellers as a whole are more aware of lighting than they have been in the past, and what it can do for them,” Kovar says. “It is one more way to get an edge in order to make your store more attractive than the guy down the street.”
Today, designers and lighting manufacturers recommend that lighting for showcases come from inside and above the case, emphasis from the lighting above. Minagorri agrees with this, saying: “You don’t want anything that’s going to block the view of your product; the light in the showcase is basically a shadow light. True light needs to come from above. But you still want some light inside the case.”
“The majority of the people we’re working with are doing fluorescent lighting in the case off the back, then metal halide or tungsten halogen or both in the ceiling above,” Kovar says. “That way, when you bring a piece of merchandise out, it’s also lit. What happens with some people is that they put good lighting in the case, but the lighting outside the case isn’t sufficient. So we’re trying to make the overhead lighting do two jobs.
There are three priorities that Smolens has for lighting showcases:
- Proper lighting shouldn’t cast shadows and, instead allow the product to sparkle.
- When the customer is in front of or leans toward the showcase there shouldn’t be a shadow cast over it.
- The heat and colour of the light source should be calculated and controlled.
“The best lighting is a combination of types of lighting at various locations,” he says.
Smolens also says that he prefers to place the light source at the top and back of the showcase, so the view of the jewellery isn’t obstructed. He also states that he prefers using fluorescent lights with front cover reflectors. Though her prefers using T-8 tubes, the new trend is using T-5 tube.
“The fluorescent should cover the entire back length of the counter,” he explains. “There are some designers who prefer the fluorescent light at the front of the showcase, but we at DSD groupe design feel that a glass-to-glass butt joint at the front of the showcase gives complete visibility of the product. Because we deal with very small merchandise we want to maximize its visibility at all times.”
As the temperature changes, so does the colour of light. This light warmth is measured in degrees Kelvin (K). The appearance of a light source defines Kelvin temperature and is measured in degrees. Temperatures of less than 3000K produce warm colours that have a reddish appearance, neutral or white light is at the light warmth from 3400K to 4500K and lights that are a bluish colour have temperatures greater than 4600K. As a general rule, Smolens says that the fluorescent light temperature inside a display case should be around 3000K to 3500K.
For above the case, there are two choices of lighting that can be used. Smolens says the MR-16 halogen bulb or the PAR-38 halogen bulb.
“The choice as to which one to utilize depends upon the designed environment,” he says. “If a higher ceiling is above the showcase, then the PAR-38 bulb is best because it gives a better and stronger light beam. The ceiling should not be higher than nine feet above the finished floor level to keep the effectiveness of the lighting. The spacing between the PAR-38 lights should not exceed three feet [centre to centre] and the utilization of a flood light is recommended.”
The 60-watt IR-3500K bulb is what Smolens would generally recommend, but, if the ceiling is higher,, the spacing between the light fixtures must be decreased to give constant overlapping light on top of the showcase. A light fixture utilising an MR-16 halogen bulb (50-watt or 37-watt, 3500K) is another alternative for lighting the showcase from above.
“The trick here is to offer the same lighting level at the showcase top. Since this type of bulb has less strength capacity, we recommend that the bottom of the lighting fixture be no higher than seven feet above the floor level and that the spacing is closer—less than two feet apart, and 18 inches is recommended.”
Light fixtures come in a huge range of designs, types, colours and types of diffuser shades. For this reason, Smolens says that the choice between the MR-16 bulb and the PAR-38 bulb usually depends on aesthetics. MR-16 bulbs are particularly light and offer a slightly better sparkle to the colour rendition and are flexible enough to accommodate various designs. “However, if the store design calls for higher ceilings and a more minimalist design expression, the PAR-38 is the route to go,” Smolens says.
Smolens also says that measuring the light at the showcase level is also important, saying: “We always want to ensure that the above lighting offers at least 70 foot-candles [a foot-candle is equal to one lumen per square foot], in addition to the fluorescent’s lighting level inside the showcase. Overall, at least 100 foot-candles are desired.”