There are a few reasons a jewelry store might seek to put up a website. Off the reasons we've heard in my office here are the popular ones:
1. Need an online presence because their customers ask.
2. Want a website to sell online.
3. Want a website to describe their products and services.
4. Want a website to sell diamonds online and compete with BlueNile.com.
Many jewelry stores have told us stories of people walking in with printouts from BlueNile. Actually BlueNile provides an easy printout ability just for that reason. But this is a poor reason, and a bad reason to want to create a jewelry website for your business.
Other than BlueNile a jewelry store also needs to compete with Tiffany & Co., Zales Corp (Zales and Gordon's) and Signet Jewelers (Sterling, Kay and Jarad). These are all giants in the online retail jewelry industry and there's no real way to compete with companies that have $302 Million or more in online sales.
The point is you shouldn't even try to compete with these large online jewelry retailers. Instead you have to go around them somehow.
BlueNile, Tiffany, Zales and Signet all have their own styles of jewelry. But obviously they are not the only suppliers of jewelry in the world. There are plenty of other jewelry suppliers that are also looking to compete against these "Big 4," and that's who you should be working with.
The selection of jewelry on your website should be something different than what the Big 4 sell. Your jewelry should represent what sets you apart from the Big 4 so you are not competing directly with them. This way you can realistically charge competitive prices for your jewelry since now you are only competing with other online retailers.
One caveat is that you should not include jewelry styles on your website unless they are reorderable. There is a considerable amount of time that should go into the product description for each item. If you spend a lot of time on a unique item you need to make sure the profit margin is worth it.
If you do advertise unique items on your website then make sure to mark them as "Sold - Please come into our store to view similar items." This strategy will make the search engines happy with continual content and will give your customers examples of what you could get for them. This approach is especially profitable with custom design jewelry items.
The next time you are at a jewelry buying show look for a verity of new styles from your vendors that could become your competitive staple against the Big 4 online. Ask your vendors if they are hot sellers and if they are intentional knock-offs of a popular style carried by BlueNile, Tiffany, Zales or Signet.
Over time your website will stand out as a portal that provides something different rather than the most popular engagement rings.