Our patented tulip ring system drives Indiana Jewelers’ business

Our patented tulip ring system drives Indiana Jewelers’ business

ITodd Murray, 72, says he retired when he “should have” retired, and would never have invented the collectible Tulip collection, which now accounts for about a third of retail sales at Murray Jewelers in Muncie, Indiana.

The ring system, named after Indiana’s state tree, features a patented diamond shape that allows the rings to fit together like puzzle pieces. None of the rings slip and slide on the finger; They do not need to be soldered together to work as a single unit. He applied for a patent for his ring system in 2014 and received it in 2016.

“There are no moving parts,” he says. “Very simple. Your finger is what holds it in place. As long as your finger is in it, it won’t rotate or come loose.”

Murray’s inspiration came in 2014 when he was commissioned to make another ring jacket for a client. “I’ve been in this business for 52 years, and I thought, ‘I don’t want to make another ordinary jacket.’

The innovation quickly paid off. The customer for whom the first ring was created has purchased 70 tulips since then. His average Tulip customer bought at least three rings.

When a customer buys a center ring or a center ring and a jacket, they receive a collection box. By the time they collect six jackets and six center rings, they have 36 ring combinations. It is a versatile choice for both engagement and fashion rings. The center ring can also be worn solo. “Since I have 100 different jackets on offer, when I introduce a new center stone, I introduce 100 new ring possibilities,” says Murray.

The high demand for the product “kind of crept up” on him. “In 2016, I had five rings, maybe six, and a guy came and bought them all, and I stopped working,” he says. Now, the store is making enough to have 300 items in stock.

“The great thing is that when they buy a ring or a jacket in the middle, when they walk out of the store, they’ve already put five or six other rings on their wish list,” Murray says. “Then the husband can come and buy from the wish list.”

It instills confidence in men who shop for their significant other. “Men love it because now they can buy something for their wife and they are ready to go to lots of birthdays and anniversaries.”

For the 2023 Christmas season alone, Murray and his team have sold $140,000 worth of items. The annual average is $500,000. A 5-foot-tall, 10-square-foot display represents $50,000 in sales per square foot. When it comes to contracts, eight out of 10 of its customers choose to buy from the Tulip Group.

“People look at it and their jaw kind of drops,” Murray says. “They were amazed because they had never seen it before. It could be a simple solitaire that could be put in different jackets, or it could be a ring with 21 little diamond beads, so you can have a more casual kind of ring. They can switch colors and add gold Yellow to white range for two-color options.

Seventy percent of what Murray Jewelers sells in the showroom is made in-store, including the Tulip collection, of which they sell two or three pieces a day. In addition to Tulip, the store specializes in one-of-a-kind jewelry and repairs.

It’s becoming increasingly easy to turn repair customers into big spenders.

“Every time a new customer comes in, a $15 battery replacement can turn into an $11,000 sale,” he says.

Advertising is primarily word of mouth, although Murray also buys time on television.

Despite the tulip’s huge popularity locally, Murray does not sell it online. Those looking for tulips need to visit the store, which is only open on Wednesdays, Thursdays and Fridays, as a result of a decision made by the family to improve their quality of life. Murray works with his wife, Janie, and their two sons, Ryan and James, who represent the fifth generation. Total staff size is eight.

Founded in 1885, Murray’s is the last of eight remaining independent jewelers in downtown Muncie. Murray, a skilled watchmaker, trained with his grandfather and continues to restore pocket watches and antique wristwatches. It is the only store in central Indiana with an in-house watchmaker.

“Our customers are thrilled that we are still open because so many other stores have closed,” he says. “Staying open for three days is not a sign of failure, it is a reflection of doing well and having a better quality of life.”

Although he is not interested in becoming a wholesaler, Murray might consider licensing the tulip patent, which is valid until 2036, to another jewelry company with greater manufacturing capacity.

You may also like...

Leave a Reply