HOW TO SELL COLORED GEMSTONE JEWELRY

colorsSome of the most beautiful and permanent examples of nature’s breathtaking colors are found in gemstones. One of the most important roles of the jewelry sales associate is as jewelry educator and advisor. When selling colored gemstones to your customers, you should make an effort to explain the value factors that make each gemstone unique.

DIFFERENT THAN DIAMONDS
The first mistake many people make when shopping for a colored stone is trying to apply what they understand about diamond quality and value to other gemstones. It is your job as their jewelry sales associate to explain that, even though industry terminology somewhat similar for gemstones and diamonds, the inherent uniqueness of each and every gemstone demands that each gem variety be evaluated individually and not according to the same standards applied to diamonds.

You can help customers understand these differences as you walk them through the general value factors of colored gemstone jewelry. Use the four Cs (color, clarity, cut, and carat weight) but highlight the unique value and beauty of colored gemstones when explaining each factor.

EXPLAINING COLOR
In almost every gemstone variety, color is the value factor that has the strongest impact on price. Here are some general guidelines to follow when discussing color with jewelry customers:

Darker doesn’t usually mean better.
Many people are under the impression that the darker the color, the more valuable the gem. This is not necessarily true. If a gem is too dark its value actually decreases, because the true color is hidden. For example, there are lots of blue sapphires on the market that look more black than blue.

The most valuable gemstone colors are pure and vivid with a medium to medium-dark tone. The value of a gemstone will usually begin to decrease as the color moves toward a very light or very dark shade. Value will also drop in many gem varieties as the color moves from pure hue (red, blue, green, etc.) to something in between (such as orangey-red or yellowish-green).

Lighting makes a difference in the way a gemstone looks.
The real test of a gem’s beauty is to see if it looks attractive under many types of light, incandescent and fluorescent light and even natural sunlight. Explain to customers that gemstones photographed for print ads, catalogs and websites are very carefully lit with specially designed lights to ensure they look fabulous. Tell the customer that, because of this, there’s really no other way to buy a colored gemstone except by seeing it in person.

  • Use the science of lighting to display your gemstones, so that they look their most beautiful in your cases and to your customers. Incandescent lights, such as a normal light bulb, give off warm shades of the spectrum: red, orange, and yellow. Using incandescent light to illuminate a gemstone in this “warm” color range will make the gem much more attractive.
  • Fluorescent lights usually contain more of the cooler shades of the spectrum: blue, green and violet. Gems in this “cool” color range will always look more attractive under fluorescent light.

A gemstone expert can tell you which colors are the most valued, but only your customer can decide which colors are the most attractive.
When talking about something as subjective as color it is impossible to equate cost and rarity with beauty. Quite simply, beauty is in the eye of the beholder. Don’t allow your own personal feelings or gemological knowledge to get in the way of helping your customer choose what they like best. You should help your customers select colors that appeal to them, their style and their fashion sense. If they prefer paler shades of a gemstone, then it’s your job help them find the perfect color at the best value. They’ll be happier with their purchase and with their experience shopping from your store.

EXPLAINING CLARITY
Colored gemstones form in unique environments, and these environments have a lot to do with the clarity of the gem. For example, the formation process of aquamarine usually results in a highly transparent and inclusion-free gemstone when viewed with the unaided eye. On the other hand, emerald forms in an environment that almost always produces some inclusions visible to the unaided eye. This means that finding an emerald with no visible inclusions would be extremely unlikely, while inclusion-free aquamarines are relatively common.

Knowing what to expect in regard to the clarity of each gemstone variety will help you better understand and sell a gemstone’s value. As a general rule, a gemstone with no visible characteristics will command a higher price than a similar gem with visible inclusions. But this is not always the case. In fact, a gemstone’s inclusions add individuality and help make the gemstone one-of-a- kind. Explain to your customers that inclusions are like birthmarks, not flaws. If they understand that inclusions don’t negatively impact the gem’s overall beauty, it will be easier to show them a variety of gemstones.

EXPLAINING CUT

The way a gemstone is cut can have a tremendous impact on the gem’s beauty. Gemstone cutters strive to do two things. First, they try to create an attractive finished gem, and second, they struggle to save as much weight as possible from the rough gem crystal with which they’re working.

A well-cut gemstone should show large areas of brilliance and color when viewed in a face-up position. Light and color should be reflected evenly from inside the entire gemstone as you slowly rock the gem back and forth. Large dark areas and areas that look washed out or transparent indicate a gemstone that was not cut with maximum beauty in mind. As a general rule, at least 60% of the overall face-up area of a well-cut gem should reflect strong brilliance and sparkling color.

EXPLAINING CARAT WEIGHT

The majority of gemstones are sold based on weight using the “carat” as the standard unit of measurement. The per-carat price of a gem will usually increase as the size of the gem increases. The amount of the increase depends upon the factor of rarity. A good comparison that illustrates the effect of rarity on per-carat price is blue topaz versus ruby.

Because it is common to find blue topaz in large sizes there is very little increase in the per-carat price between a one-carat and a four-carat specimen of similar quality. On the other hand, it is extremely rare to find a ruby in sizes over a carat. A one-carat ruby might sell for $2,000 per carat while a similar quality four-carat gem could reach as high as $5,000 per-carat, all because of its rarity.

PERSONAL PREFERENCE

Specific varieties of gemstones can come in a wide color range. For example, blue sapphire can vary from extremely light (pale blue) to very dark (black-blue). The hues can also range anywhere from a strong greenish-blue to an almost pure violet. Which one is the best? That’s easy: it’s the one your customer likes the most!

Don’t confuse price with beauty. Encourage your customers to trust their eyes and their hearts to pick out the colored gemstone that’s right for them. Because each and every gemstone variety is unique, it’s important that you do a little research to better understand the gemstones that your store sells. You may discover that a fine quality one-carat ruby is out of many of your customers’ price range, while a fabulous red spinel is both affordable and the exact color they are looking for.

Perhaps your customer thought they wanted a blue sapphire only to later discover (after you showed them an alternative gem) that they really prefer the violet-blue hues of tanzanite. Investigating colored stone possibilities is both fun and exciting. The more you learn, the more confidence you’ll have in helping your customers select a beautiful gemstone that fits their preferences and personal styles.

JEWELRY APPRAISAL: FINDING AN APPRAISER

appraisalOffering a professional jewelry appraisal service helps meet consumers’ needs and enhance a store’s prestige. Make sure that you work with professional and ethical jewelry appraisers — their performance will reflect on you.

CHARACTERISTICS TO LOOK FOR WHEN RECOMMENDING AN APPRAISER

There are certain characteristics to look for in an appraiser. Here are some important points to cover should your customer request your help in finding a qualified appraiser:

  • Appraisal Credentials: A professional jewelry appraiser should be certified or titled by a respected national appraisal organization. Different types of appraisals require varying levels of training.
  • Gemological Credentials: With no federal or state requirements for appraisers, it is crucial to ask for credentials. A Graduate Gemologist diploma from the GIA or its equivalent should be considered minimum gemological training.
  • Knowledge of Jewelry Manufacture: A qualified jewelry appraiser must understand manufacturing techniques and recognize their contributions to the value of an item.
  • Continuing Education: Continuing education certificates and credentials help ensure that the appraiser is knowledgeable about the latest gemological and appraisal issues.
  • Jewelry and Appraisal Experience: A broad range of jewelry experience over many years often leads to a more knowledgeable appraiser. Likewise, solid experience in the appraisal industry is equally important.
  • High Ethical Standards and Awareness of Legal Obligations: Appraisers should adhere to the highest levels of professional behavior. Consider the appraiser’s professional affiliations, as well as the appraiser’s reputation within the industry.

GEMSTONE JEWELRY TERMINOLOGY: EXPLAINING TRADE NAMES

gemsJewelry sales professionals should use this article to help to inform jewelry customers about the history and tradition of gemstone trade names. It will help build credibility and also help the customer avoid being misled by an unethical or poorly informed salesperson in another store.

Trade names are terms, which often relate to specific locations or sources for gemstones, used to describe a gemstone’s quality (particularly its color).

ORIGIN OF TRADE NAMES
Traditionally, trade names were used to describe only the finest quality gemstones, and they were based upon the gemstone’s most famous source. When a jeweler described a ruby as a “Burmese Ruby,” he or she was saying that a particular ruby possessed the qualities of the finest examples of rubies from Burma (modern-day Myanmar). It really didn’t matter if the ruby was actually sourced from Burma or not, as long as it had the quality factors of a very fine Burmese ruby.

UNETHICAL USAGE OF TRADE NAMES
Over the last decade or so, trade names have been misused at all levels of the jewelry industry in an attempt to infer a better-than-actual quality. For example, stores, home shopping companies and Internet merchants are buying poor-quality sapphires from Sri Lanka and then calling them “Ceylon sapphires” with the hopes of cashing in on the traditional use of the trade name and the quality factors it implies. This practice is misleading to the customer and considered unethical by professional jewelers.

EDUCATING JEWELRY CUSTOMERS

It is best to limit the use of trade names with a customer. If you do choose to use a trade name in your sales presentation, be sure to fully explain what the term means from a traditional perspective.

JEWELRY REPAIR SERVICES: CHAINS

jewelry-repairBeing able to recognize the characteristics of both properly and improperly executed chain repairs is an important part of being a jewelry sales professional. You’ll be better prepared to identify needed repairs on your customers’ jewelry and you’ll have the knowledge and confidence to discuss repair options with your customers in a way that builds their trust and loyalty.

When delivering a finished piece to a customer, you’ll be able to demonstrate and ensure that all expectations were met. The result? Greater levels of customer satisfaction and higher sales and profits for you and your store!

With the many different types of chains in your store, it’s important to understand how the features of each can impact the repair process and their appearance and characteristics after being repaired. Knowing the repair expectations of each type of chain will help you better communicate a realistic potential result to customers. This, in turn, will avoid any confusion or frustration on the customer’s part, and will lead to higher levels of customer satisfaction.

FLAT LINK CHAINS
Flat link chains like serpentine and cobra links are usually very durable, and when they do break they are generally easy to repair. While most flat chain repairs are nearly undetectable, if the chain is very small, lightweight or badly damaged, there may be some stiffness in surrounding links after the repair is completed. You should advise your customer of this possibility. Twisting and turning is the primary cause of failure for flat link chains, so be sure to caution your customers, especially those who want to use the chain to hang a heavy charm or pendant.

CURB CHAINS
Curb chains are some of the most durable chains and, fortunately, they are also relatively simple to repair by an experienced jeweler. The broken or worn links must first be removed. Then the jeweler will cut through a good link, splice the two sections together to rejoin the chain, and finally solder the cut closed. The repair should be virtually invisible.

BOX CHAINS
Box chains are not only very popular but also usually relatively simple for an experienced jeweler to repair. You can expect the solder joint on a repaired box chain to be nearly invisible. If the broken link is still in good condition, the jeweler will simply solder it closed. If the link is damaged, the jeweler will remove it and then cut open an undamaged link, join the chain together and solder the link closed.

LINK CHAINS
Rope and cable link chains are similar in the way they are made and can be difficult to repair, especially hollow ones. Due to the nature of most damage, often a large section of the chain must be cut away. Some jewelers charge extra to repair rope and cable chains because of the additional time and multiple solder joints required to complete the repair. Usually, a repaired rope or cable chain will have a stiff area on either side of the solder joints. You should explain this to your customer before they leave their broken rope of cable chain with you for repair.

HERRINGBONE CHAINS
One of the most popular chains is also one of the most challenging to repair – the herringbone. The individual links in a herringbone chain overlap each other in an intricate manner, and they are usually very thin. This thinness and overlapping structure contribute to a herringbone’s tendency to twist and kink. You should advise your customers that the nature of a herringbone chain makes it unsuitable to hang a pendant.

COMMUNICATING WITH CUSTOMERS
When discussing a chain repair with a customer, there are a few general considerations you should communicate. When a chain breaks, it breaks for a reason. Generally it was pulled, twisted or snagged with enough force to open or break a link.

While a broken chain can usually be repaired, the force or trauma that caused the original break may have in fact weakened other links. It’s not uncommon for additional links to break in the near future with only minor pulling. Helping your customer understand this at the time of the first repair may prevent their future frustration with both the chain and the repair work you do.

Additionally, a chain after being repaired is never as strong as it was before it was broken. And many breaks occur when customers are not wearing or using the chain in an appropriate manner. There is no better time to explain the proper way to wear and use a chain than when you deliver a repaired chain back to your customer. Let them know that sleeping in most flat chains like herringbones will certainly lead to kinking and breaking. Encourage them to only hang pendants from open flexible link chains. Every chain has a story, and it’s your job to tell the story — to convey important information to your customers.

For more detailed information on the chains you sell, ask your store owner or manager, or the vendor. Vendors in particular should have a wealth of information about their products to share.