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Gem collectors anonymous: Have gems, will sell

What to do

Short of outfitting all your relatives with gemstone jewellery, here are a few creative ways to help reduce inventory:

  • Host a roundtable event for your clients and use your own inventory rather than inviting an independent dealer. Your inventory may be ‘old-hat’ to you, but it will be new to your clients. The dynamic of a roundtable can go a long way to helping sell a lot of stones. Of course, you also have the bonus of custom designing jewellery from the stones purchased.
  • Liberate your gemstones from the prison of your safe! You can’t sell them if your clients can’t see them. Displaying complementary gems along with your finished jewellery will enhance both the jewellery and the stones. Of course, it may be difficult to find a method to display gemstones that is both visually appealing and offers a measure of security. There is also a genuine risk a stone could be dropped and damaged either when being shown to a client or when the stock is being set out for display or returned to the safe at the end of day. Plastic or glass boxes work, but tend to clutter the showcase. There are some devices to hold a stone in a clip and a variety of commercially available displays that can show stones to advantage. In any case, you and your staff should be very careful when handling loose stones to avoid damage.
  • Take advantage of your regular suppliers who have large inventories by ordering gems on memo. Some suppliers have programs allowing you to hold a portion of their stock and rotate it over a period of time. Be careful not to abuse the privilege—your suppliers are your lifeline.
  • “¨It can be very useful to pull your entire inventory out of the safe every so often and become re-acquainted with it. Laying everything out not only reminds you of what you have, but you may find combinations of gems that will inspire a new design for the showcase.
  • Discount inventory you are no longer inspired by or just doesn’t fit your design style anymore. Sometimes a wholesale dealer will buy gems or take them on consignment for re-sale.
  • Donate gemstones to a charity of your choice. While it doesn’t offer a tax advantage in Canada, the promotional value of a donation can pay for the stone’s cost.
  • “¨If your local college offers a jewellery program, invite students and faculty to visit and purchase gems for their work. Offer attractive prices and help inspire the next generation of jewellery designers.
  • “¨If you have the ability, client traffic, and funds, go ahead and mount as much of your collection as possible. Yes, you will tie up more cash in metal and labour, but your gem inventory can sell more quickly as a finished piece. At the same time, scale back your purchasing.
  • A rather more extreme gambit was described by David Geller in the February 2015 issue of INSTORE magazine. He writes about a jeweller who literally gives away gemstones if he cannot sell them within a year. His thinking is a stone that has been sitting around for that long is practically ‘dead’ inventory. A weekend promotion invites clients to visit his shop and choose a grab bag containing a loose gem worth up to $1000. He imposes no conditions on the promotion, and some people literally grab a bag and leave. Others, however, chose to mount their ‘free’ gems in a selection of semi-mounts on display or commission new settings. The overall promotion generates a healthy income and moves a lot of dead stock!
  • Featuring photos of loose gemstones on your social media platforms or website can provide a low-cost method of exposing the plethora of stones in your safe to a much wider audience. Perhaps include sketches of options for setting them.
  • When clients are unsure of what to purchase for their loved one, suggest a loose gemstone, along with a gift certificate for the recipient to use for the design of their choice. Again, you can include images to kick-start the process.
  • Ingrid Kaddatz, a goldsmith with Costen Catbalue Goldsmiths & Design in Vancouver, offers a creative suggestion. On learning of the death of the man who invented the Pet Rock, she suggested jewellers start a new fad—encouraging their clients to have their own collection of pet rocks of the precious variety!

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