Three Takes on Make
Diamond cut works its magic in three jewelers' stores
While every jeweler approaches diamond cut differently
based on market, store size and individual philosophy, the following jewelers
represent three schools of thought on selling well-cut diamonds. Here are
their insights into their approaches.
Brands at Hands
Lazare Kaplan Ideal Cuts make up 95% of the store's loose diamond sales.
"We work very hard to promote Lazare as a brand, which is contrary
to our store philosophy," says Bill Nusser Jr. of Hands Jewelers, Iowa
Explaining cut: "I like to discuss the concept of Ideal
Cut, so as not to confuse people with the facts. The specific numbers are
meaningless without understanding how they work together. We discuss the
path of light, which all consumers can grasp. Once we present the diamond
at the end of the explanation, customers are blown away. Probably 80% or
90% of them have never seen an Ideal Cut. And for at least 50%, this will
not be their last Ideal Cut purchase."
Ideal Cuts: "There's a huge reluctance among some jewelers
to sell Ideal Cuts, because of how much more expensive they are (on average
20% more than a non-Ideal of the same grade). You have to think in terms
of better value instead of more expensive. Before I sell a non-Ideal, I
encourage the customer to come down on color and clarity, because with Ideal
Cuts, you can't tell the difference."
Branding: "The Lazare Kaplan brand name offers a certain
amount of credibility, as does the laser inscription on each of the company's
diamonds. Consumers can't possibly judge if what the jeweler is telling
them about the proportions of a diamond is true. So we say 'You should call
Kaplan yourself and get proof.' We urge the customer not to believe us!
It's a tough situation for the customer, but the brand name makes it easier."
As a graduate gemologist and appraiser, Charles Ellias of Astrein's Jewelers
is a natural educator. In his Birmingham, MI, store, he uses a counter chart
explaining Ideal Cut variation and is writing a consumer guide about quality.
Explaining cut: "I spend an average of one hour teaching
each customer about diamonds. I talk about proportions, faceting arrangement,
and average girdle diameter. I show how light bends through the stone and
talk about refraction, dispersion and scintillation. We use a proportion
scope, a Sarin Dia-mension and a photomicrograph to plot the diamond for
"We don't tend to lose them. Stones have gotten really expensive, and
the consumer is more interested than 15 years ago."
Negotiating proportions: "Most customers, when shown a well-cut,
well-balanced stone and an Ideal Cut stone, can't tell the difference and
can't rationalize paying the extra money for the Ideal."
Educating the consumer: "Consumers tell me the guy down the
street offered them a diamond of the same color, clarity and carat weight
as mine for 20% to 30% less. There's no magic to this. Explanation of cut
is a major factor in making this clear."
See It To Believe It
Beauty is basic for Connie Sullivan of Connie's Fine Jewelry in Great
Falls, MT. In sales presentations, her staff lays stones on the counter
so customers see the difference cut makes.
Explaining cut: "We [compare a well-cut stone to] a sample
solitaire with an average or slightly below-average cut. The customer can
readily see the difference in beauty.
"We always try first to sell beauty and romance, but if a customer
requires more details, we have a visual aid that shows the light path and
counter cards with all the proportions and angles shown. Most often, however,
a vague explanation suffices."
Talking price: "You can always suggest a small compromise
in clarity or color if price becomes a factor. We must serve our customers'
needs and not force our feelings on cut, but nine out of 10 customers will
ultimately go for beauty."
Ideal vs. non-Ideal: "I don't carry branded cuts because
we can get beautiful makes at better prices. We carry near-Ideals with 58%
to 60% tables. I have sold branded cuts and would be happy to provide them.
But most of the time, I can provide a gorgeous stone at a more competitive
by Stacey King
Copyright © 1998 by Bond Communications.