Three Takes on Make


July 1998


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 City, IA.

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."

Textbook Approach

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 the customer.
"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 price."

– by Stacey King

Copyright © 1998 by Bond Communications.


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