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Deciphering gemstones: Equipping retailers to optimize sales

By Hemdeep Patel

Photo © www.bigstockphoto.com

“I don’t know what’s the matter with people: they don’t learn by understanding, they learn by some other way — by rote or something. Their knowledge is so fragile!”

~Richard Feynman

I was first introduced to Feynman’s Nobel Prize-winning work during my time as an undergraduate astrophysics student. Though the quote appears to be brut and unforgiving, it does carry an element of truth that’s hard to deny. Simply put, a deeper understanding of any given topic allows you to build a stronger foundation on the subject, thereby giving you a greater ability to convey those ideas to others. When faced with outside challenges, this foundation serves as an excellent resource to meet ever-changing situations. This is a common thread running through industries and businesses that have had to stand strong in the face of challenges. Success is the reward for the one who understands how individual parts relate to a whole.

The jewellery industry is no different. Many jewellers have faced a variety of challenges throughout the last two decades. In my articles, I have tried to illustrate a better and complete understanding of some of the ways the trade can help provide opportunities for success and satisfaction for both jewellers and customers. Whether it is the differences in diamond grading reports or how to incorporate computer-assisted design (CAD) into a business, self-learning and empowering oneself with knowledge can only increase success.

Gemstones are underrated

Perhaps the one part of the industry that has been very close to me is the one I was born into: the coloured gemstone sector.

There is a general sentiment amongst retailers to not give gemstone jewellery much importance. And in fact, the global numbers seem to prove this to be true. Forbes estimates 2017 retail global jewellery sales would reach an estimated US$257 billion, with finished gemstone pieces only comprising anywhere between US$18 and $21 billion, according to Russell Shor of the Gemological Institute of America (GIA). At this level, gemstone jewellery would make up only seven to nine per cent of total sales.

Perhaps what the numbers fail to convey is that on average, coloured gemstone
jewellery has the highest profit margin of all sectors within the jewellery industry. The only thing standing in the way for many jewellers to seize this opportunity is the know-how of developing a strong understanding concerning how to accurately describe gemstones, so a customer can recognize nuances and see how they are equated to value.

Gemstone grading

Unlike diamonds, where the stone’s value is directly connected to its grade, but in most instances cannot be seen by the unaided eye, the nuances of coloured gemstones are connected to a value a customer can see and evaluate for themselves. Perhaps the best part of this evaluation process is, in most cases, it can be done without the aid of a loupe, microscope, or other piece of equipment.

Once a customer sees and recognizes these minor nuances, they are able to distinguish how specific characteristics impact the quality and value of a particular gemstone. Further, I would argue the most difficult part of any purchase cycle is to have your client agree to your value proposition. This can be made easier when your customer can agree and acknowledge the nuances you have pointed out and how these details can impact the stone’s value.

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